Back to Driving Force, Summer 2018



Facing the Strange

By Colby Martin

Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.
—Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future Part III


  Advanced vehicle technologies projected for the near- and long-term revolve around safety, connectivity and navigation—collectively known as advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).

Tomorrow’s possibilities often come with mixed emotions. On one hand is promise, but on the other can be anxiety. Feelings on the unknown can range from curiosity and optimism to worry and fear. Recently, I’ve been hearing much more about emerging technical developments within the automotive space reflecting major concerns over how each advancement will ultimately impact the future of our hobby as it has been enjoyed for generations.

History has proven that progress won’t be stopped. I’ve heard that Henry Ford believed his Model T offered the ultimate in personal transportation. Sure, the iconic vehicle was a landmark machine—in its day. However, competition by other brands very quickly crowded public roads. Thanks to foresight from those around him, such as his son Edsel, Ford’s company evolved beyond the scope of its initial success. Today, fans of the Blue Oval can purchase exciting new offerings while still celebrating a rich heritage of American motoring.

Innovation is in a tinkerer’s nature—for business or just for fun. Whether one desires to restore a long-lost classic to showroom condition, create a ride never conceived by an automaker or some flavor in between, the choice is ours. Bringing four-wheeled dreams to life is more obtainable than ever! Consider the possibilities that replicas and reproduction parts have fulfilled. Today, prewar-era cars and trucks can sport luxuries not available at most dealerships of the day: automatic gearboxes, performance suspension and braking equipment, power steering and controls, air conditioning and a slew of other amenities. And yet, advancements continue to allow us to achieve the unthinkable. For example, quadriplegic champion race driver Sam Schmidt has been granted the first semi-autonomous license. With it, he used his specially equipped Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to tackle Pikes Peak and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How cool is that?

SEMA Vice President of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak said vehicle designs previously “all about a faster horse are quickly morphing into those of a smarter horse!” Advanced vehicle technologies projected for the near- and long-term revolve around safety, connectivity and navigation—collectively known as advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). Included are applications such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assistance, forward-collision warnings, automated lighting, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking and more.

Beyond ADAS, connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) are emerging market segments designed to automate vehicle systems for safer driving, convenience, improved mobility and performance. CAVs integrate automotive and consumer electronics through systems of sensors, hardware and software. The connected-car market is growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 45%, which exceeds the overall car market by 10 times. Many new vehicles and aftermarket systems are already incorporating ADAS, and 80% of vehicles are forecast to have connected car features by 2020.

Knowing that expanding directions in the market will inevitably impact auto enthusiasts, specifically the SEMA Action Network (SAN), SEMA continues to learn how to stay positioned at the front end of a rapidly changing technological landscape. The organization is educating the industry on new opportunities and will provide services and information to address the challenges that come with them.

Successfully integrating with new technologies will also mean monitoring and influencing applicable laws and regulations. That’s when the SAN’s full strength will be invaluable. Like you, I’m a fan of grabbing the steering wheel myself. While change for drivers everywhere is on the way, agree with it or not, we can all be involved in the way it will be governed going forward. When necessary, we must speak with one voice to advocate for the hobby in Washington and statehouses across the county. You can help by continuing to stay informed and spread the word. Encourage others interested in fighting the good fight to enlist at no cost at www.semaSAN.com/join. After all, great strength comes with great numbers. Let’s be best prepared to confront the future of automotive pleasure on our own terms.