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What Will The Next Decade Bring?

A Look Ahead At A Decade In The Dirt

In the constant rush that is life, a lot of things can get lost in the mix. Add in the holidays and things get even worse. Keeping your focus on the future can be hard when you are trying to figure out gifts for social-media dependent teenagers and trying to avoid certain relatives. The almost daily crunch of feeding content to this website only expands upon the chaos. Before you know it, the holidays are over and you are left wondering what the hell just happened. And, before you know it, another year has come and gone.

This is precisely where I find myself now. This year has flown by and is now coming to a rapid close. Not only is the year coming to a close, but so is the decade. In the past, I would spend the end of the year focusing on what I didn’t accomplish during the previous 365 days. On New Year’s Eve, I would quietly cry myself to sleep while reflecting on my many failings.

Since beating yourself up isn’t healthy, I tend to look more towards the future now. And, that is exactly what I am going to do here. Many sites will hash out their most significant moments of the last decade lists or something similar. But, I am going to fire up the crystal ball and try to look into the future. What is going to happen in the next decade in the dirt? Let’s take a look.

The future is here and it doesn’t look good. 

The Death Of The Internal Combustion Engine?

Will this new decade be the last for the internal combustion engine? If I were a betting man, I would say yes. Hybrid technology has come in many forms during the previous ten years. But, in the past few years, electric vehicles have come to the forefront. More companies than ever are betting on the future for vehicles being an electric one. The technology isn’t quite there yet as electric vehicles still don’t have the range and are too expensive. I won’t get into the possible geopolitical ramifications or the grip that the oil industry has. But, it is safe to say that oil will play less of a role in the future. The death of the internal combustion engine might not happen on a global scale by 2030, but probably at least in most developed nations.

Anyone with a pulse will miss the sound of a V8 engine. But there are some benefits to an electric future for us. The first is the gobs of low-end torque that electric motors offer. There is no waiting for torque to build like with a gas engine. Lots of low-end torque is precisely what you want in the dirt. And, imagine how easy it will be to hear your spotter as you silently make your way over an obstacle. Of course, finding an electric outlet in the middle of nowhere doesn’t sound too appealing.

We Will Reach Peak Tire Size

If 37s are the new 35s, then 40s are the new 37s. Will we be saying that 54s are the new 52s by the end of this decade? I sure hope not as my wallet won’t support tires that cost $1,000 each and the heaps of broken parts they cause. Eventually, I think we will reach “peak tire” as the negatives of giant tires will ultimately outweigh the benefits. Let’s hope it is sooner than later for us regular folk that can only afford “mere” 35s.

There is a precedent for this already happening. Desert racers went through the same madness with steadily increasing tire diameters. Some eventually ran 42-inch tires, but things quickly went south. The bigger tires ate expensive transmissions and rear axles. The massive jump in unsprung weight melted shocks and required better brakes. Eventually, desert racers realized that the benefits of the bigger tires weren’t worth the headaches they caused.

There might be less new vehicles that we actually want to take in the dirt, but they are better than ever. 

There Will Be Less Off-Road Worthy Vehicles, But They Will Be Better

There are fewer new vehicles now than ever before that I want to take in the dirt. As vehicles have become more sophisticated, they have also become more fragile and less desirable to me. Manufacturers continue to cram complex driver aids, upscale luxuries, and other crap I don’t want down my throat. Sure, today’s trucks might be more capable and comfortable than ever. But there are very few I would want to take down a trail. And, the rugged SUVs of the past are gone in favor of what are essentially glorified cars. I can count the number of off-road worthy new vehicles on one hand.

The strange thing is that, while there are less off-road capable vehicles, they are better than ever. Manufacturers have really begun to pay attention to the off-road capabilities of certain vehicles. The Ram Power Wagon, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Ford Raptor, and Toyota TRD Pro are the best they have ever been. Rumor is that the new Ford Bronco will be capable as well. And, if none of these are capable enough in stock form, a healthy aftermarket exists to make them even more capable. It will be interesting to see what the next decade brings.

The Death Of Car Culture?

Some might think of “car culture” as only about cars. Sure, hot-rodders, tuners, low riders, and euro car lovers are all part of it. But there is more to it than just that. Car culture includes anyone that likes to build, modify, chop, customize, or fabricate and use anything automotive. While our focus might be off of the pavement, we are part of car culture too.

Spending time around my teenage nephew and niece for the holidays was an eye-opener. One thing is for sure; they really could care less about cars. Their world entirely revolves around their cell phones and social media. Some high-end cars might appeal to them as status symbols. But beyond that, the appeal of cars is fairly limited. Does this mean that car culture will die a slow death as this group comes to age? Or will they eventually realize that social media really isn’t that interesting and start interacting with reality? It is hard to say.

Honey, are we overlanding or camping? 

Overlanders Will Finally Realize They Are Just Camping

Without a doubt, overlanding is one of the biggest trends to hit off-road in recent times. With their strange love of patches, messenger bags, overpriced beer, and specialized pants, overlanders can be pretty easy to make fun of. If an overlander doesn’t post countless times about their off-road adventure on Instagram, did it really even happen? The rise of overlanding has led to the generation of numerous memes, social media influencers, and hilarity.

The reality is we are all overlanders. Sure, if you want to get technical, overlanders are people doing multiple-day vehicle expeditions to some very remote locations. But most of us don’t have time to travel to the tip of Patagonia as we have these things called jobs. The vast majority of us are merely escaping from work for a bit to enjoy a long weekend camping and exploring with our 4x4s. And that is something we can totally get behind. Whether you are a true overlander or a weekendlander, here is to hoping you get to spend more time outside.

Less Land To Enjoy

While we hope you get outside more in the new decade, you will probably have less land to do it on. Land closures have always been a threat to what we enjoy. Expect it to get worse for the coming decade as areas we enjoy slowly close one by one. Once these areas close, they are not coming back. Get involved now and keep these closures from happening. Tread lightly on public land, use common sense, and don’t be an idiot. The last thing we all want when 2030 gets here is for the majority of public lands to be off-limits.