A Future Where My Mom Agrees

By Jory Peppelaar, Intern, The Fuels Institute | June 2017

I remember going and buying my first car. The car salesman started by trying to show me a small car and my mom told me, “You don’t want to drive that Jory, look at it!” I looked - it had everything that I wanted out of a car: plenty of space, affordable, and it got great gas mileage. She thought it was too small, not safe enough. She worried that in the winter (which in Utah is most of the year) I would slip and slide to my death on the Utah roads, or that a big truck would come and crush me. Now I get it, she’s a mom, our concerns are going to be different when purchasing a car, but these differences got me thinking; I wondered how the last four years has changed my perspective on what type of things I would look for in a vehicle.

From my interactions with The Fuels Institute, both as a presenter in their 2017 Case Competition, and as their summer intern, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the fuel and vehicle industries than ever before. My recent experiences have made me reflect on my own consumer behavior and realize there is more to car purchases than the three things I considered four years ago. I could hop on the ZEV hype-train, and try an electric vehicle. Apparently charging stations are abundant in Salt Lake and charging stations are becoming even more prevalent, increasing driving range. The price of batteries is expected to become low enough that electric vehicles will be cheaper than gas vehicles. I think that if that’s the case it becomes worth it to me. Cheaper and cleaner? Now that’s something my generation wants.

What about autonomous vehicles? I don’t see myself buying a car anytime soon (I’m poor), but I do see myself using ride-sharing a lot. I live in the city and never have to go far, and when I do, I choose to fly. The Fuels Institute’s 2017 Annual Meeting got me thinking about completely autonomous ride sharing services, and that is something I hope to see in the near future. Autonomous vehicles offer a giant convenience. Eliminating the need for drivers turns a commute into a nice time to relax and be able to do your own thing, something I’ve always enjoyed about public transit. Autonomous ride sharing would provide the benefits of public transit, but the convenience of a private car without actually having to own one.

While I wait for this futuristic service, I’ll prepare myself for maybe having to buy another car. But, thanks to what I have learned so far from The Fuels Institute, I realize that I have many more options and a lot of things to consider as the future of the auto industry changes. So, maybe there will come a time when my mom and I will agree on something, and what we look for in a car will be the same. Safety will no longer be an issue thanks to autonomous vehicle fleets, electric vehicles will be affordable and abundant, and maybe my mom will even like small cars.

Read more from the June Issue of our Fuel for Thought newsletter.