QotW: What will happen to JNCs once autonomous cars take over?

It might take twenty years, it might take a hundred, but the the autonomous car revolution is coming. The question is, where will it leave those of us, presumably everyone who reads JNC, who prefer to manually hurtle ourselves across great distances in little metal boxes. Will we be forced to take our machines to the track like equestrians are today, be allowed to share the road with autonomous cars, or be banned altogether? Every major automaker is working towards this future, so we might as well prepare ourselves.

What will happen to JNCs once autonomous cars take over?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Would you EV your JNC?

The winner this week is returning champion Dimitry, who echoed what a lot of commenters and JNC staffers felt about the Honda Urban EV. It’s the first electric car — as well as the first modern Honda in ages — that we’d consider buying ourselves.

Hmmm…well, a year, heck, a month ago I would’ve said a stern no to any electric monstrosity I saw, but seeing the retro Civic changed my mind. Completely.
I would buy that Civic in a heartbeat. I would buy any TE style EV Corolla in a heartbeat. I would buy any proper retro styled EV this way. Now, that’s marketing! Good job Honda.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.

JNC Decal smash

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26 Responses to QotW: What will happen to JNCs once autonomous cars take over?

  1. Dave said:

    Im all for it. when cars are controlled by computers, gps etc, there will be no accidents. This means the end of lieing, cheating, evil insurance companies. good bye, you won’t be missed.

  2. Jan van Kleef said:

    As a little boy I always sat as close as possible behind the busdriver, to see how he shifted and steered the bus. Then already it seemed to me the utmost pleasure to drive yourself a vehicle. In 48 years I drove myself up to now 1,500,000 kilometers. I can’t imagine me spending thousand on a contraption that does not allow to shift, steer or accelerate as I like myself. Self-driving cars? For idiots yes, not for car-nuts.

    • Randy said:

      Problem is, the technology makes more idiots – and the already-idiots are being made more dumber…

      All this safety stuff has led to more survival of accidents, but is IN SPITE OF the “drivers'” “abilities.”

  3. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    I’m still back there scratching my head as people started to buy new chips for the ECU. Will people still tinker with cars? I already shy away from even opening the hood of my DD*. I sincerely hope that a. manufacturers can leave some things open to modifications as well as b. a maturing aftermarket industry for performance emerges, and, c. a maturing electric conversion industry emerges to give our old favorites a new life (if you want).

    * But yes, I would buy that Honda in a heartbeat.

    P.S. We ‘re figuring our how to build better & better batteries. I have we figured out what were going to do with the old, toxic worn out ones ( the same kind of question posed to the nuclear industry)?

  4. BlitzPig said:

    What will happen, and this is being discussed by my friends in the aerospace industry, who are working on AI driving solutions, is that human operated cars will simply be forced off the roads as they will be too expensive to insure, no matter how they are powered.

    In essence only the VERY wealthy will be able to afford insurance to operate their own cars.

    Oh, motorcycles will be the first to go, as they are utterly incompatible with autonomous operation.

    I’m glad I’m old and won’t see this day.

    • ahja said:

      Hmm. I actually think its the opposite, that the existence of motorcycling and the fact that motorcycling actually has some political lobbying power will allow both bikes and non-autonomous cars to persist. And then there are bicycles to consider. This fantasy of the autonomous cars taking over the road and all that is just that fantasy. Its like the movies about the future that show it as oh-so-clean and shiny. The future that has everybody wearing silver jumpsuits and having minimalist furniture. In fact, people don’t want that. People like wearing their own things, doing their own things, filling up their homes and workspaces with their own clutter.

      Streets in the future aren’t going to be sterile places with only autonomous cars whizzing around. There will be pedestrians, and bicyclists, and skateboarders, and dogs, and work trucks, and bums. And they will all be traffic risks. The logic that dictates that there will be no place for analog cars or bikes implies that none of those things could be there either.

      Cars all wired together and talking to each other and optimizing their movement by planning ahead can’t happen because of all these real world obstacles. All the planning and optimization falls apart when something unexpected inserts itself. Autonomous cars are going to sense their surroundings and respond accordingly. But not plan ahead. So I think real cars and bikes very do much have a future. An enthusiast-only future. But its something.

  5. Banpei said:

    I don’t think we will not be allowed to drive our precious JNC anymore. But it will all be within certain boundaries: higher insurance rates, insane taxation on fossil fuels and expensive tracking devices or beacons to “warn” autonomous cars of potential hazards on the road.

    We already see this trend happening in the Netherlands: you can “voluntarily” have some spy in your OBD port to get discount on insurance. The “safer” you drive, the higher the discount. If you reverse that thought: the less safe you drive (e.g. accelerate rapidly) the more you pay. That sounds fair right? That basically means they rule out cars older than 17 years to benefit from the discount. However I’m probably driving a lot safer in my JNC (I’d like to keep it in one piece!) than the average road user.

    We already get huge tax benefits if you buy a new EV. Also our petrol already has 64% tax on it (VAT and exercise duty), which is used to finance the tax benefits for EV cars. This will probably only increase more in favor of the EV driven cars in the near future. From here it would be a small step to extend these arrangements for autonomous cars, and retroactively deploy beacons and tracking devices in non-autonomous cars.

  6. Nigel said:

    Smart phones/computers, cameras and autonomous cars, equals… know all & see all.
    When an idea like this is policy, we cannot stop it. As always 99 has no say…
    (Keep your favorite race track open by supporting and going to events, enjoy car life).

  7. Bryan Kitsune said:

    When the robots rise up and destroy humanity, JNC’s will largely be dismissed or recycled by the robots, except those hidden and rescued by a small force of rebel cyborgs. Quietly and diligently they will build an elite team lead by Celi Karu, and his 18RG powered Dragon. Through perseverance and cunning they eventually overcome the soulless robots and their autonomous vehicles, leading to a glorious new era of Kyusha…but how long can it survive?

  8. Khoua said:

    I have a feeling that eventually, laws will be written to either have no one drive or have VERY VERY high fees for someone to drive a car. But, hopefully, it’s a few more decades. But, no doubt the electric cars and autonomous cars are coming full force within maybe 20 years?

  9. Mike said:

    To see where owners of manually operated cars will be in 20 or 30 years, look no further than your nearest stable. Horses, once the backbone of transportation in America are now kept for pleasure and sport. While you may not see them on the highways regularly, JNCs and other classic cars will still have a place, figuratively and literally, as long as people continue to enjoy them.

    • Randy said:

      Assuming you’re in the U.S., so you have the reference:

      We’re gonna have to go live with the Amish!
      I’m cool with that; they seem to be a good bunch of people.

  10. SHC said:

    Here’s hoping they put the autonomous cars in the slow lanes(s) so the owners can put on make-up, eat, getting dressed, texting or just daydreaming can enjoy their mindless commute. Let them partake of their mind numb experience, all the while saying this allows for time for those things which are more important … see the above activities listed. Leave the fast lanes for those that truly enjoy driving, the one’s that can still drive a manual geared, petrol burning, noise infused experience.The one’s that don’t look for the shortest way home, but the curviest road no matter the length. That enjoys the very visceral experience that truly driving a car, and equally enjoys maintaining, improving, washing and admiring this thing called a CAR.

  11. Fifty5engineering said:

    What will happen when autonomous cars take over?

    I don’t know. But I promise the car gods that my kids, currently 4 and 5 years old, will be able to heel-toe downshift the family s2000.

  12. cesariojpn said:

    I invoke the anime éX-Driver.


    No technology is perfect. There will always be some sort of catastrophic glitch, or a runaway car, or something that will make an autonomous car go berserk. And there will be a need for a fix. The anime éX-Driver showcased this idea, where RWD cars (or AWD) are needed to disable them.

  13. Randy said:

    A song that will bring a tear to most of us:

    Red Barchetta – Rush

    Shortly after that, assume THX 1138.


    In the 25th century, sexual intercourse and reproduction are prohibited, whereas use of mind-altering drugs is mandatory to enforce compliance among the citizens and to ensure their ability to conduct dangerous and demanding tasks. Emotions, coitus, and the concept of family are taboo. Everyone is clad in identical uniforms and has shaven heads to emphasize equality, except the police androids (who wear black) and robed monks. Instead of names, people have designations with three arbitrary letters (referred to as the “prefix”) and four digits, shown on an identity badge worn at all times.

    THX 1138 – Wikipedia

    What point is there to all this “great technology,” if it takes away your enjoyment of life? Safer? No dangers – you’re in a bubble. Hey, bubble boy! “Look at that beautiful environment!” Just LOOK at it. Don’t touch it; you’ll destroy it! Just LOOK at it. It’s so beautiful… It could only be more beautiful if there were no more humans…


  14. ahja said:

    People who bring up how horses are extinct as transportation seem to forget that there are vaaaast swathes of rural hinterlands where you can ride your horse around on the public roads all night and day to your hearts content and no one will care. Even in the urban cesspools there tend to be cutesy carriage rides around the park and things. So, your JNC might not have a future in New York or San Francisco or even Kansas City. But I bet you could have your JNC and drive it too in large parts of New Mexico, Wyoming, Iowa…Probably more places than not really. We don’t know the future and I’m more pessimistic than most but I actually don’t think our cars will become forbidden and extinct. You also can’t really compare motor vehicles to horses because horses die. They can’t be restored.

  15. RX626 said:

    Let’s read the novel “Tamashii no kudōtai” of Japanese science fiction novel writer “Chōhei Kambayashi”.

    The autonomous driving car (of course, it is an electric car) becomes the ruler of the road and the car equipped with the internal combustion engine is a novel that depicts the future where you can no longer run on the public road.

    “Car” and “automobile” in this novel has been described as a separate existence.
    “Car” is the existence of the former generation that can drive freely (that is, like JNC) and “automotive” is a safe and perfect means of transport, but can not drive freely, it is written as a boring existence It is.

    And in this novel the hero of an old motorhead who loves “car” reminds me of the passion for “car” by seeing the remnants of rusty Honda Prelude and makes again the “car” of the forgotten existence I will make a decision.

    This novel is from 1995, and there are many depictions of fantasy.
    However, the relationship between “car” and “automotive” seems to be anticipating the future ahead 20 years or more, I was surprised.

    And perhaps our future will be like that.
    The cars of the internal combustion engine will be eliminated and the richest man will be able to drive only on the limited grounds.
    It is like a modern horse and a horse riding club.
    And while the “modern” motorhead like us not forgets on the lost past, and still can’t lose we passion for JNC.

    Unfortunately I am not rich, I hope that polyphony digital, Turn 10 Studios, EA, and the best JNC video game brand Genki will continue to exist in such a future.

  16. Mike said:

    Autonomous tech is perhaps soulless but necessary to help reduce traffc congestion and fatalities. However, I think Self-driving cars will always have a Drive-yourself option. “Joy of Driving” is too great a marketing point for automakers to let go of and they’ll likely continue that.

    Old, classic cars will continue to be admired; those who own/drive them, envied.

  17. MIKE said:

    OK!!..Here’s MY take on AUTO-MO-MOUS CARS….As the world heads towards everything Technology..there will never be a replacement for the human brain..yes you can replicate..but in all it’s what the human brain that programs/dictates into the computers that makes everything do what they do and achieve…so to automate…, will take aloong time to achieve and totally convert the world..not in our lifetime anyways…same goes for the stick shift cars..how many of the manufactures are fading away that? and giving into paddle or auto shift cars..how many of today’s new drivers even know how to drive a stick or even bother…to me fossil fuel cars/combustion engines are unique in their own. but how many kids and kids nowadays are growing up with more technology based childhoods..giving away to convenience and doing things easier, which is basically like back in the day with television(people say, everyone who just sits in front of the tv makes you stupid, unlike reading a book and actually gaining knowledge and using your brain muscle.(just like how kids now a days just use their phone to text to communicate with family members..even in the same household…so what happen..the skill of human interaction and social skill are lost..and the ability to socialize as human beings diminishes..this in itself has its own problems and will create unforeseen problems..humans have a problem getting along as is now..so given the lack of proper communication..opens a whole different can of worms for society world wide. So to Autonomous cars..yes the will come, yes they will most likely dominate, but as soon as people realize the problems that comes with it..it in itself will have its problem evolving in its daily uses and benefits…gone will be the roar of the combustion motors..which gives cars their personality and character…in such just like this site..Nostalgic Japanese Cars ..just up until recently..all these cars are just your ordinary day to day cars..now the typical Honda Toyota , Nissan, Datsun..etc..is a classic…just like the American hot rods..they were just everyday cars..with the exception a a few speciality cars. Now everyone thinks they are kool to own…just think how boring it will be for a car that does everything for you and you dont have to do anything to it..like electric motor cars..they are geared for torque and no top end..with the exception of the super car they just tested in Europe surpassing super cars all wheel all four motor drive..how many people are going to afford that price..also in order to break the 200 mile limit on battery technology will take some time ..its not going to happen overnight..so there you have it. Autonomous cars..does everything for you..just like your kids and future generations who will not talk to you directly only thru a device..which will create a socialization / interaction behavior problem upon society…and I don’t even know what issues will arise from automated cars or a automated world…sounds Boring and lazy to me when everything is all done for you..what else is left for the human to do but become stupid.??

  18. Jeremy A. said:

    What will happen to JNC’s? That depends greatly on hwt happens once mass rollouts of self driving cars happen.

    In the best possible future? Nothing. JNC’s will share the roads with self driving cars, we’ll be seen as the eccentrics we are. “Oh, you heard about Jimmy? I hear he drives an old RX7. Yes, drives it himself, even.” Traffic will be better, the drive will be nicer. And all the mountain passes, hilly roads and backwoods routes will remain ours.

    In the worst possible future? Government regulation wither makes driving your own car illegal, or insurance premiums for manually-driven cars will go up so high that nobody will be able to afford it. Driving will become a distant memory. The street driven JNCs will either be exiled to permanently live in the garage, a memory of better times, or sent to die in the scrapyard, no longer legal to drive, worth more in scrap value than it is as a car. The pristine examples will live on trailers, traveling to shows and back, never to be driven on the street again.

    Maybe there would be a nu-bosozoku movement of outlaws driving their own cars. But as for myself, I tend to suspect the reality will be closer to the worst outcome.

  19. Jayrdee said:

    There’s no doubt that cars will eventually be 100% autonomous. But what does that mean to our JNCs? I honestly think they will make a comeback.

    To the general public, cars are just tools, a necessity. But once you take the “necessity” factor away, driving will be strictly for pleasure, and when things are done for pleasure they become hobbies. There’s ALWAYS a market for hobbies. This opens up a whole new door for automakers, sponsors, media, the racing industry, etc. For example, the Dodge Demon. Is there a need for a 840hp V8 10 second production vehicle? Not at all … but people love speed and racing. Very much so that people are willing to spend up to like, 85k to have one. Another example, people stopped riding horses over 100 years ago. So why do people spend thousands of dollars on horses? Or celebrities and how they travel from all over the world to go to the KY Derby? Its just fun!

    It might be a little harder to get gas or drive to the store, but I don’t think it will be impossible.

    Another thing to consider, things that are automated require maintenance. And to change something as big as the entire global automotive industry and make it all automated, that opens a whole new job market and a new generation of mechanics, engineers, and tinker-ers. People who get satisfaction out of doing stuff with their own hands.

    And whats more satisfying than tinkering with some hunk of old rusty metal?

  20. Randy said:

    Thought crossed my mind –

    Autonomous cars, talking to each other around corners and buildings, or sailing along a highway, perfectly inches from each other.


  21. chris Flores said:

    I’m sure that they would need to have a special lane for those computer controlled cars with sensors to keep them in place by then they have human only driver lanes with no speed limits. It’s either that I’d be driving under all the flying cars.

  22. Tim said:

    I think it would be awesome if free and open source software caught up with EV tech! That way, you could convert your old JNC (Likenor my EF Civic, that thing barely has any electronics!) into a proper EV! Imagine how weird doing a silent touge pass would be…

    That being said, sites like OpenGarages are already getting there! They’re making open source conversions of car ECUs that you can install and program yourself for free, and once you’ve got that custom ECU in place so you can control all of the body electronics and whatnot, the conversion to EV probably wouldn’t be too bad!

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