Views #710 | Low-Intermediate 4

Cars of the Future

Phils talks about cars of the future and what they will be able to do.
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Todd: Now, Phil, you mentioned that you actually studied automotive engineering.

Phil: Yeah, that's correct.

Todd: OK, can you explain what automotive engineering is?

Phil: It's basically car design and basically technology involved in cars in all aspects: the engine, the performance, the aerodynamics, so it's basically an overview of all kind of car aspects for the future.

Todd: Cool, so you must know a lot about the cars of the future and stuff. I mean, how do you see cars in let's say twenty years, thirty years, forty years?

Phil: In the near future I think the big developments will be alternative fuels. At the moment petrol and diesel engines are causing a lot of damage to the planet and we're going to eventually run out of natural resources, so I think the developments will be towards electric or hybrid cars.

Todd: Right.

Phil: Maybe even using fuel cells such as hydrogen.

Todd: Well, like how many years away do you think this is?

Phil: Realistically, ten to fifteen years away before we start seeing the first ones in production but before we see everyone using them, it's going to be twenty years, I would have thought, I guess.

Todd: Right.... Now, I once had a student who was an engineer for Chyrsler, Daimal-Chrystler, and he was saying that they already have cars that can drive without people, like you can just say your location and it'll go there. Have you heard about that?

Phil: I've seen the technology from a German company called Volkswagon as well. The problem with this technology - it's brilliant. It's amazing what it can do, but people's attitude is the problem. People like the sense of freedom from having a car.

Todd: Right.

Phil: And if your car is driving you then you lose that. It's like being on a train of something, so you lose that individual sense of freedom.

Todd: Wow, that's right. That's a good point.

Phil : And then, there's the infrastructure.

Todd: Oh, so you think that basically, it'll never take off, that people will always want to drive their own cars?

Phil: Possibly, although maybe they could develop a system where in the inner cities the system is used, basically to help, because traffic flow and congestion is a problem.

Todd: Right.

Phil: So maybe within the cities, the system could be used, but outside the city, people would always want their freedom in the country roads - the thrill of driving, the excitement.

Todd: Right... Now when you watch movies, you often see cars that can fly, or cars that can go underwater like in a James Bond movie. Do you see that maybe in the future?

Phil: Underwater I think would be a bit pointless, and very difficult to achieve the engineering. It's possible now, but the engineering is just ridiculously hi-tech, but I don't know about the flying cars. Maybe in hundreds of years but certainly not in my lifetime and not in anyone's lifetime who's listening to this website, no.

Todd: All right. Thanks a lot Phil.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

the aerodynamics


It's basically car design and basically technology in cars in all aspects: the engine, the performance, the aerodynamics.

The 'aerodynamics' of something are the features that it has which make it more streamlined and therefore go faster. An aerodynamic object is less affected by wind. Notice the following:

  1. They are really good at designing the aerodynamics of cars.
  2. The first planes were not very aerodynamic.

alternative fuels


In the near future I think the big developments will be alternative fuels.

'Alternative fuels' are new types of fuel sources, other than those that are obtained from non-renewable energy sources. Some examples of alternative fuels are water, wind and solar power. Notice the following:

  1. I had to write an essay about alternative fuels, and I did a lot of research into the topic.
  2. The government is investing a lot of money researching the different kinds of alternative fuels.

hybrid cars


I think the developments will be towards electric or hybrid cars.

A 'hybrid car' is a car that can be ran off both petrol and electric power. Some hybrid cars use only electric power when driving at slower speeds. Notice the following:

  1. I recently bought a hybrid car, and now I rarely have to go to the gas station.
  2. Hybrid cars are still quite expensive to buy.

sense of freedom


People like the sense of freedom from having a car.

When you have a 'sense of freedom,' it means that you feel free to be able to move about and go the places you want when you want to go there. Notice the following:

  1. When you are an adult, you have a greater sense of freedom, as you can make your own decisions.
  2. I have my own car now, and it has given me such a sense of freedom.

flow and congestion


Traffic flow and congestion is a problem.

Here, 'flow and congestion' refer to the movement of traffic. When traffic 'flows,' it moves freely and without problems. If traffic is 'congested,' it can't move quickly and is stuck in one place. Notice the following:

  1. They need to deal with the flow and congestion of traffic on the busy roads.
  2. Traffic signals help to regulate the flow and congestion of traffic.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
aerodynamic • alternative • hybrid
sense • congestion
  1. There has been a lot of work done on roads to help with the flow and of traffic.
  2. cars are great if you live in the city.
  3. It takes a while before you have a of freedom when you move to a new country.
  4. Our city is really focusing on how it can use fuels in the future.
  5. One of the biggest reason my car uses less gas is that it is very .