Automakers, like other successful enterprises, set goals for themselves. Looking at two recently stated goals in tandem shows a pretty radical change in what automakers will be offering consumers in just 5 years.
I wrote a bit about how Lexus is planning on offering autonomous driving on vehicles by 2020. This first foray into autonomous driving will be limited to the highway, but one has to expect that it will become viable on city streets in the next few years after the highway version goes on sale. So, beginning in 2020 and then becoming fully implemented in the years after that, cars will be driving themselves and you'll be playing iPhone games while it takes you to work.
Goodbye Gasoline Powertrains
Toyota, Lexus' parent company, has recently announced that it has set a goal of reducing emissions in its vehicles lineup by 90% by the year 2050. Journalists and analysts point out that this would require Toyota to basically eliminate any purely gas-powered vehicle from its lineup. In their place would be vehicles powered by hybrid-electric, or purely electric powertrains. The electricity would be coming from either hydrogen fuel cells or batteries.
And It's Not Just Toyota/Lexus
This trend can be seen in the behaviour of many other automakers as well. BMW is trying to have an electric version of each of its vehicles on the market in the next 10 years. VW has (for no other reason than it is the right thing to do) decided to focus its energies on electric vehicle research and development with the next-generation Phaeton being offered as a fully-electric vehicle.The Phaeton will then compete against the Tesla Model S. There are numerous other examples of this shift in other automakers too.
We all knew that this was what the future holds, but now there are some pretty specific dates being talked about. 2050 may be a while off, but 2020 is in just 5 years. So if you go to trade-in your current NX in 5 years or so, and are looking at the 2020 Lexus NX, assuming Toyota and Lexus reach their goals when they have aimed to, you will be looking at a vehicle that runs on hydrogen fuel cells and can drive itself (on the highway).