Going Down The Road In Car & Truck Design As Seen In 1981
Often in trends especially either in the economy and finances or the automotive industry people like to look forward. Yet how many go and check predictions. In star gazing on the stock market or finance it can be said that the experts can be either “right or they can be wrong”. Yet in the auto & trucks field the experts often make specific forecasts and determinations. Let’s look back at one set of predictions and compare them to the present in 2010 / 2011 to judge accuracy and validity.
Here from a February 1981 financial & business
”Boardroom Reports”, which listed itself as the “Management’s Source of Useful Information” are the predictions in an article in the journal whose title was “What’s Down the Road in Truck Design”
Following are the predictions:
1) More diesel engines: the prediction here is that half of all medium-duty trucks are likely to be powered by diesels in 1985. Guess what the pundits are accurate here. It can be held that in 2010 95 % of all heavy duty trucks are diesel as are the majority of medium duty trucks. Its diesel that powers most of the trucking and movement of goods across America, Canada and the NAFTA US, Canadian, Mexican roads and highways and brings goods and fresh produce to us in a quick , economical and reliable fashion.
2) Smaller Engines – the prediction here was that by 1990 only 18 % of light trucks are expected to use V-8 engines by 1990. Whoa Nellie , someone sure saw fuel price increases – both gas and diesel coming down the pipeline here. Who would have believed then (in 1981) that diesel fuel (which after all is basically waste oil) would be more costly in price and pricing than even gasoline? What may not have been expected in this calculation were the great strides and improvements in engine designs and electronics that would lead to more powerful engines of smaller size with even greater fuel and miles per gallon fuel economies to be had overall.
3) Turbocharging: which uses exhaust gas to increase combustion will be used more often to offset engine size reductions. Bingo dead on again. According to trucking industry experts to begin with almost all diesel powered big rig heavy duty tractor rigs all have turbochargers, few with exception. It’s a hand in hand to the advanced electronics, increases in fuel costs and lower engine sizes overall.
4) Front Wheel Drive- It is often forgotten by many that it was not that long ago that most vehicles not only trucks but also all cars on the road were rear wheel drive. Overall it was easier and cheaper for auto manufacturers to build them that way. What made the changes at least in non-commercial vehicles were the demands by government agencies for fuel economy in measured fleets. Front wheel drive allows for less weight, as there is no drive train running through the middle hump of the car. This allows for weight and space savings. A smaller sized ( and lighter vehicle) then results which has greater interior space in the same exterior volume and weighs less to result in both more passenger space with higher fuel economies and miles per gallon measurements and costs.
What was generally not even anticipated at the time was the front wheel drive format would work its way into light trucks and vans as well.
5) Computerized Controls and Diagnostic Systems: Again we may take this for granted in 2011. Yet in 1980 simple even primitive yet reliable electronic systems were the norm. Cars still had points and a distributor as opposed to electronic ignition. Though fuel injection systems had been around since World War 2 carburetors were still the most widely used and popular forms of fuel and fueling systems for engines. Not many in 1980 would even dream that cars and trucks would become rolling computers and fewer yet could envision working on them as an auto mechanic or diagnostician.
In the end it can be summarized that these predictions in the early 1980’s of future trends in the automotive and trucking industry were for the most part accurate and have held water – or in this case gas and diesel fuel. Bravo.