HOW FAR HAVE WE COME? WE SCORE FIVE CORE TECHNOLOGIES TO ASSESS IF AUTOMOTIVE ADVANCES REALLY ARE CHANGING THE WORLD
At the turn of a new decade, have we hit our automotive targets?
BACK IN March 1976, a story by Tony Curtis – no, not that one – appeared in Wheels. ‘In The Year 2025’ was a bit of a depressing read, to be honest. Inspired by Orwell’s 1984, the author told a tale of all private motor vehicles being banned by the overarching hand of the state by 1985. Swing and a miss there.
Yet glance through the 1976 issue and some things are all too familiar. There are Corollas, Passats, 911s, Civics, LandCruisers and Lancers. A disgruntled reader wrote a letter complaining that modern cars lacked character, while a Fiat came last in a group test.
A couple of months later, however, Wheels ran a report on ADR27A, the first anti-pollution regulations on Australian cars, noting that “it’s become critically important that something must be done to at least minimise any further increase in air pollution”. Cars like the Fiat 130 and Renault’s 15 and 17 coupes faced the chop for being unable to comply with these restrictions on hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides.
That noble aspiration seems a long way distant. In a recent analysis by Transport Energy/Emission Research (TER), written by Professor Robin Smit, it became clear that Australia looked likely to become a dumping ground for the world’s dirtiest engines. “There is no incentive for the car companies to sell lower-emitting vehicles here. At the moment the manufacturers are allowed to sell anything they like with little restrictions,” Smit said. So are we where we thought we’d be at the turn of this new decade? We take a look at some of the major pillars of progress and mark the cards.