It has been a hot minute since my last post on here. To those who do follow this blog, I apologize. However, a question has occurred to me since my last entry: has the obsession with the automobile vanished or has been slowly disappearing?
I am a young person who surrounds himself with other young people. In the previous years, some of my peers usually had something to say about a car, a new automotive trend, etc. Recently, however, this has not been the case. Now, it is entirely possible that I have somehow managed to surround myself with people lately that do not find cars particularly interesting. However, I question whether the car culture or the enthusiasm for the automobile is slowly dying out in my young, millennial generation. Maybe the culture is changing to an unrecognizable state? I cannot tell as of yet.
It seems most people of my generation rather spend hours commenting on phone applications, the latest and greatest smartphone, a new tune that they heard, or some political commentary. While these are great and interesting things to talk about (tech and politics are always interesting), it seems most of my generation and the one being reared at the moment care more about the flash of new tech rather than the automobile. Is the automobile, then, becoming a dinosaur technologically? Are we not fascinated by the marvel of modern transportation? Of course, the car is changing rapidly. EVs, hybrids, and new car technology is exciting (it truly is when looking at it), but it is not garnering the press nor the attention spans, at least in my experiences, that other technologies such as smartphones and smartwatches do with the young crowds of today. My hunch is that whatever is the latest and greatest tech of the day influences and shapes the culture of conversation, desire, and economy of a particular time period. Has the automobile been dethroned as the most innovative and interesting technology today? Is the automobile simply being pushed to the side by the swath of new tech emerging? This new tech is dominating conversation talking points where the automobile once existed more obviously. So, are people just not excited by automobiles anymore, and are automobiles becoming no longer desired as they are no longer seen as the pinnacle of technological wonder?
Except for a few examples, like Tesla and Apple Carplay, I would be hard-pressed to discuss anything car related to anyone my age or younger. Perhaps the automotive culture isn’t disappearing but evolving. However, I am of a certain belief that talking about the tech in cars isn’t actually talking about the car itself or the automobile. In a way, then, talking about Apple Carplay, for example, isn’t really talking about the car at all but rather the applications it can perform. That would be like talking about how interesting and beautiful a country mansion is because of one nice fountain in the gardens – it isn’t really about the house. No one discusses power figures, 0-60 times, or power-to-weight ratios anymore unless you read automotive magazines (which are slowly becoming extinct). What does this change in automotive culture mean to the automotive manufacturers and those industries and individuals, like automotive magazines and this blog? How will they change to this?
Undoubtedly, the means of personal transportation will always be in demand. I do not foresee the car becoming extinct. However, part of the excitement and wonder concerning the automobile seems to be disappearing. The culture is changing if not vanishing, and it is worth asking ourselves about what this means for the automotive industry and for the future of transportation.
What do you think? Please comment below!
-John R. Burrow