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Filed under: February 2003

Science fiction cars?

Reuters Business Wire – Jan 28, 2043

Shares in the world’s two major surviving automakers, Honda and Ford, were little changed today on news that their last remaining competitor, Toyota, would seek to reorganize their operations after filing for bankruptcy late last year. Toyota’s widely expected announcement continues a decades-long implosion of the automobile industry that began with the demise of DaimlerChrysler in 2016, followed by General Motors in 2025, Nissan in 2032 and Hyundai in 2037.

Ford Motors CEO Bill Ford Jr. II was candid in his assessment of the moribund auto industry. “We have only survived this long because of the commitments made back in 1999 by my father, Bill Ford Jr., who dreamed of presiding over the end of the internal combustion engine and producing totally recyclable cars which cleaned the air while they were driven. (See www.ford.com/en/ourVehicles/autoShows/detroit2003/ford/modelU for details on one of these original concept vehicles). His vision was really given impetus by a confluence of global events in the late 20th century.”

“Most importantly, and although you certainly wouldn’t have heard these views espoused by our leaders back then, it was becoming increasingly clear that our dependence on foreign oil sources to fuel our car-based society was seriously undermining our country’s national security. When the world’s nations refused to join the U.S. in our aborted attempt to take over Iraqi oil fields in 2003, it showed us that we could not unilaterally project our forces into far-flung regions of the globe for the purpose of securing our energy interests. What kind of security would this nation have enjoyed with most of the earth’s population aligned against us? Of course much of this was lost on our administration at the time, but when President Hillary Clinton was replaced by President Nader in 2012, the corner was turned, we began to develop alternative energy sources in earnest and provide the kinds of incentives necessary to move our economy away from it’s dependence on oil, SUVs and the internal combustion engine.”

“Perhaps just as important a step in weaning us from our oil habit was the ratification of the Kyoto Accord on global warming by the vast majority of nations early in this century. As you know, the US also thought we could stand alone against that global consensus, claiming either that the actions necessary to reach the Kyoto targets would seriously undermine our economy or even more ostrich-like, that we required further study to determine whether greenhouse gases indeed contributed to global warming. These arguments may appear pretty moronic in hindsight, but such was the rhetoric of the time. Of course the argument was muted in 2011 when great swaths of the Antarctic ice shelves began breaking off and rising sea levels threatened to turn the White House lawn into White House Bay. Our Homeland Dyke Initiative is a testament to those times.”

“You know, if auto executives hadn’t spent so much time in bed with politicians and oil executives back in those days we probably could have saved a good portion of our industry. We were just too slow to react to events swirling around us. Still, there were some real visionaries early in the century who were developing technologies that allowed us to introduce viable alternatives to the automobile. Chief among these was Dean Kaman and his team at Segway (see http://www.segway.com/) who in 2002 introduced the world to their Segway HT personal transporter. This may have looked like just an ingenious novelty item with limited appeal when it was first unveiled, but the bat was really raised when they transferred this technology to a vehicle capable of carrying 8 passengers at a fraction of the cost of then-existing vehicles. The rest is history as they say, Segway’s Initial Public Offering in 2007 was the most successful in history, and clearly it’s not just investors who have benefited, but our personal health and the health of the global environment also.”

“Here at Ford we still believe that the automobile will continue to have a place on our roads despite the fact that half of our highways have been dug up and replaced with greenbelts. We must credit the strategic alliances that we forged early in the century with Ballard Power of Canada, supplier of our 3rd generation hydrogen fuel cells, and companies such as Magna International and Noranda that were in the forefront of developing the super light-weight materials that allowed us to so significantly reduce our vehicle’s power requirements.”

When asked if he was concerned about advances in Molecular Shift Technology made by the consortium headed by China Space Travel Inc. and Startrek Industries, Ford said, “Of course we are watching these developments closely. MST represents a quantum leap in how we approach mobility solutions. But for the last 40 years people have been presented with a continually widening variety of options in how they choose to meet their transportation needs. We expect Ford will always provide a niche for the nostalgist who wants to remember the feel of putting their pedal to the metal and their rubber on the road.”

 

 

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