Japan Mobility Show 2023: The Grim Reality of the Shift Towards Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

In not so distant future, car enthusiasts, fondly known as petrolheads, will find themselves at a crossroads as the automotive industry is mandated to shift toward electric and autonomous vehicles. 

In the face of these changes, the very essence of the word "petrolhead" as well as their very existence risks becoming obsolete 

For those who've long cherished the roar of a V8 engine and the visceral connection to their cars, this transformation has brought about mixed feelings, discontent being a dominant one.

To many petrolheads, a car has always been more than just a machine; what 
many saw as a chunk of metal, for enthusiasts it was a living, breathing entity, a cherished friend, and even a member of the family. The common metaphor among them was that a car was the closest thing to a living organism a tangible mechanical object could be. However, with the rapid digitalization and electrification of automobiles, this deep connection seems to be fading away, leaving behind a whole lot of emotional response that cannot be replaced by anything else. 

The transition to battery-powered self-driving modes of transport offers undeniable advantages in terms of comfort, safety, and reduced noise. But for many enthusiasts, it raises the question of whether this is what they desire.

Is a 1300HP electric motor in Nissan's Hyper Force concept powered by Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel control technology really what they want to replace the fire-breathing R35 GTR with?

Can a boxy electric Subaru resembling an alien spaceship proudly sport an STI badge, a symbol of rally heritage and performance?

Lexus worked hard to carve a place for itself in the competitive enthusiast market with its glorious 2UR-GSE 5.0-liter V8 engine, only to leave it behind for a self-driving EV. 

The prospect of a C63 AMG with a 4-cylinder engine,

an electric G-Wagon,

or an electric M Performance model leaves enthusiasts questioning the future of their beloved cars.

The lack of enthusiasm for the Mobility Show, an event showcasing the latest in electric and autonomous vehicles, is a testament to the diehard enthusiast's reluctance to embrace this new era

The most talked-about part of the event was the display by the Japan Supercar Association, a reminder that cars are cool and, for some,

a work of art.  

The Koenigsegg Regera, a one-of-a-kind hypercar that bridges the gap between art and engineering, was undoubtedly the showstopper.

However, all is not lost for the petrolheads, and it is evident that they are not going down without a fight and their favorite brands are not quite eager to abandon them just yet.

Some companies recognize the importance of the enthusiast market. 

Mazda, for instance, is still considering the revival of the rotary engine, this time as part of a hybrid power delivery system at the heart of the absolutely gorgeous Mazda Iconic SP.

Toyota is looking to utilize the brilliant G16E-GTS 1.6-liter 3-cylinder engine from GR Yaris in the revival of the MR2, 

while Honda enthusiasts eagerly await the release of the Honda Prelude concept with some form of gasoline engine. These efforts demonstrate that there is still hope for those who cherish the sound and feel of a traditional engine.

But for those who just can't handle the transition at any level, there is an alternative solution on the horizon: Half-car, half game console, a concept from the joint venture of Sony and Honda: self-driven car with a built-in PlayStation! If you can't live without car nostalgia, you can at least take it with you. Gran Turismo on the go might be the solution that the future holds for car enthusiasts around the world. It's a nod to the past while embracing the technology of the future.

I for one is not in a hurry to see it happen, so as long as there are fast loud, gasoline smelling mechanical creations such as this GT3, I shall remain a happy man.




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