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Predictions over the last 20 years

How could technology change motoring over the next 20 years?

Car technology is ever evolving. Our perception of what the future holds for cars may be increasingly reasonable but have any of our past predictions been realised? Has technology surpassed our expectations?

An illustration of a possible future car design. Motorists expectations of the future design of cars in 20 years time are realistic. They believe that they will be broadly the same as the cars of today.

Some of the predictions made by motorists back in the late 80s and early 90s were amazingly accurate. Some however were well wide of the mark.

The accurate forecasts:

On-board computers

In 1989, 23% of people predicted that on-board computers would provide directions and would be fitted to all cars.

Telephones, faxes and photocopiers

In 1989, 26% of people predicted telephones, faxes and photocopiers would be standard in all executive cars. If you replace fax and photocopier with e-mail, the prediction was spot on.


In 1992, 29% of people thought technological advances would allow most commuters to work from home and communicate with their office by computer. In 1991, 12% thought businessmen would set up mobile offices to save office space.

Tolls on motorways

In 1989, 42% of people thought there would be tolls on motorways. The M6 toll is the only one currently in operation but a number more have been mooted.


In 1990, 46% of people predicted the Government would raise taxes on fuel ahead of inflation to reduce consumption and 41% forecast the road fund licence would have been raised ahead of inflation as well.

Driving in cities

In 1991, 55% of people believed that you would have to pay extra to drive in major cities and 28% in 1990 thought that electric cars would be commonly used in town.


In 1992, 57% thought that all cars would have airbags fitted as standard.

The not-so-accurate forecasts:

Second M25

In 1992, 39% thought that a second M25 would have been built around London and would have taken at least 20 years to start building after all the planning consultation and road protests.

Company cars

In 1990 37%, in 1991 44% and in 1992 39% thought the advantages of having a company car would be removed. It has been reduced, but 50% of the total market for new cars are still company cars of one description or another.

Speed limits

There was a complete lack of unanimity when it came to speed limits on motorways - 32% in 1990 thought they would be raised to 80mph and 14% thought they would be reduced to 60mph, by 1992 24% thought that all speed limits across Europe would be reduced by 10mph.

Channel tunnel

In 1989 18%, and in 1990 20%, thought that the Channel Tunnel would not be completed.

Driving on the right

In 1990, 18% thought that we would have switched sides of the road and would now drive on the right as our continental cousins.

Over 65s

In 1991, 10% thought that all those over 65 would be banned from driving.

What is interesting about most of these ideas is that they have all received serious consideration by politicians at one stage or other and have been shelved either as electoral liabilities or through the sheer cost of doing them.

Predictions over the next 20 years

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