Discussions about the future of mobility often paint a shiny, happy picture full of e-bikes, infrastructure that can talk to cars and accident-free self-driving cars.
But every once and a while, if you listen closely, you can hear something that can sound quite ominous, if you stop to think about it.
On Tuesday morning at the seminars, we heard one of those comments.
"We run the risk of becoming a tech island," said Michael Robinet, managing director of advisory services for IHS Markit. "If we freeze our standards, we could go backwards. That's a risk."
Robinet was discussing the potential of an anticipated Trump administration proposal: Freezing fuel economy standards. The proposal would maintain fleetwide standards at 35 mpg, the 2020 goal, rather than aiming for 50 mpg by 2025.
That would mean that while the rest of the world is moving ahead on improving fuel efficient technology, American cars will keep chugging along with aging engines and powertrains.
Maybe that won't be a big deal. Maybe it will give automakers the ability to squeeze bigger profit margins out of U.S. sales. But the impact of giving up our technology leadership could have ripple effects we can't yet see. It's not fun to think of ourselves using the car equivalent of flip phones while the rest of the world moves on to holodecks.