Forget the fact that he's the executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. He's the great-grandson of Henry Ford and that alone says he probably knows something about automotive innovation.
USA TODAY recently had a chat with Bill Ford about what the future of automotive technology might have in store for us over the next 30 years...
And he said that our roads may not be congested with George Jetson-like flying cars, but the future of transportation, is an “opportunity to make people's lives better."
Ford says he's excited about ground transportation and what the next 30 years might have in store. He sees a world in which cars will run on electricity, hydrogen or other energy alternatives and will be interconnected with smartphones in ways that make getting from one place to another "more efficient and safer than ever.”
Recognized as an early advocate of environmentalism, Ford says he still sees environmental concerns as top-of-mind as the “long-term challenge for the auto industry” continues to emerge: urban mobility.
'The way we move people is going to have to change dramatically," he told the newspaper, adding that the car will become another "interconnected asset" along with buses, trains, taxicabs, bikes, etc. He also envisions people using smartphones and other devices to help manage commuting and travel — “far beyond just traffic reports or reserving and being directed to an empty parking space in a crowded downtown.”
As for the types of fuels cars will run on, gasoline isn’t going away but it may not be as prevalent. According to Ford, the future of fuel could be a mix of technologies: electrification, hydrogen fuel cells, biofuels and nuclear power.
"Electrification is where a lot of us are placing big bets," Ford told the newspaper, noting that he believes that batteries will get better and cheaper.
In the 1950s, Ford engineers built a model of a nuclear-powered concept car. While the idea never took off, Ford himself says that if American were to embark on a new round of nuclear-power plant construction, then electric cars could indirectly be atomic-powered.
While the industry moves closer to self-driving vehicles, Ford says that the emerging technology also enables cars to assist drivers with health issues. “Ford Motor engineers have been tinkering with systems that monitor pollen counts for asthma sufferers and heartbeats for heart patients." (And... they monitor blood glucose levels for people with diabetes too!)
Autonomous driving will be possible," he says, adding, "But there is a lot that has to happen between now and then in terms of standards. But will it be possible? Certainly."