The Mini 4WD is a battery powered toy car equipped with 4WD and an electronic motor. They were ideated to race against each other in racetracks exclusively designed for them.

While thinking about some of the biggest technological advancements that have been shaping the 21st century, I immediately thought about electric cars and how they are becoming more and more autonomous. For this reason, I decided to represent this theme with a Mini 4WD toy car. The toy car is a model taken from the manga/anime “Bakusō Kyōdai Let’s & Go!!” which in English can be translated with “The Racing Brothers Let’s & Go!!”.

Despite autonomous driving cars having been created in 1925, they became more and more popular only in the past decade. The Mini 4WD toy car takes its place in the collection as a symbolic object, representing the huge transformation that cars and, in a more general way, vehicles are going through. In my opinion, it encapsulates, the duality nature of the zeitgeist in the twenty-first century: the driving force of rapid technological advancement generated by climatic concerns paired with the anxiety and unwillingness to leave behind the ways of the past.

electric vehicles

Technology has the ability to change anything in the world, including nature, governments, and individuals. One of technology’s main characteristics, which is the ability to produce as well as the threat of destruction, is one that many people overlook. When it comes to the transportation industry, Bill Ford, Jr., executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, stated that “cities are struggling with transportation today and will struggle even more in the future” and “we need to redefine what mobility is for the coming century” (Abdulaziz et al., 2018).

An electric vehicle is a vehicle that runs on electricity and makes no use of an internal combustion engine. Electric power is used to generate all of the energy. The key benefits are the great efficiency of power conversion provided by the electric motor proposition system and the low running costs as they have fewer moving parts for maintenance (Cheng, 2009). There has been a lot of research and development activity reported recently, both in academia and in industry. Many governments have offered users incentives such as cheaper taxes or tax exemptions, free parking, and free charging. The hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), on the other hand, is a viable alternative that has been used extensively in the last few years and consists of a vehicle that uses both electricity and fuel to power itself.

Source: Pngwing

According to the US Department of Energy, class 8 trucks deliver 80% of all goods in the United States and account for 22% of overall transportation energy use, burning 127 billion liters of fuel each year across 2.5 million trucks (Abdulaziz et al., 2018).  The consumption of oil is increasing as a result of the high demand for transportation, the growing popularity of globalization, and the steady growth of the human population. For these reasons electric vehicles often seem the most appropriate solution to the problem. But, although electric vehicles do not release climate-damaging greenhouse gases or nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the required electricity is often generated by fossil-fuel power plants, limiting the stated climate benefits. Coal and gas, for example, account for about half of Germany’s electricity generation (Sanguesa et al., 2021). As a result, one of the most important aspects is the utilization of renewable energies in the manufacturing and charging of electric vehicles. This type of power (mostly solar and wind power) could be stored, especially for charging, to be used during peak demand periods or to reduce charging fees.

autonomous driving vehicles

Nowadays, electric vehicles are often associated with the latest technological advancements. An analysis from 2017 by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) demonstrated how 58 percent of autonomous light-duty vehicle retrofits and models are built over an electric powertrain, while a further 21 percent utilize a hybrid powertrain (Diamond et al., 2017) Cars like Tesla are known for using leading-edge technology with functions that seem to come out of a movie. Surely, the most known technology from Tesla is the Tesla autopilot. In a conventional car, a driver would control specific driving points, however, in an autonomous vehicle, the vehicle manages these points itself. Steering, braking, and acceleration, as well as assessing and monitoring the driving environment, are examples. Autonomous automobiles require a combination of sensors, controllers, onboard computers, actuators, algorithms, and advanced software to handle all of these tasks (Pisarov et al., 2020).  In any case, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars must be distinguished. In contrast to fully autonomous vehicles, semi-autonomous vehicles allow the driver to undertake a variety of tasks in the vehicle. Semi-autonomous cars are now commonplace (though not as common as conventional automobiles), but fully autonomous vehicles still have a long way to go before they become commonplace. The public is still unable to access them (Pisarov et al., 2020).

Source: Machine Design

Autonomous driving vehicles present many advantages and have the capability to solve lots of problems related to cars. The most important one regards security: according to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) completely, autonomous vehicles could significantly reduce deaths. Indeed, in 2017 94% of traffic deaths were caused by human error. Driverless cars can also be of significant importance for the environment because fewer incidents would translate in fewer traffic congestions and therefore fewer emissions. This combined with the optimization of how cars drive would account for a reduction of around 60% of harmful emissions based on Ohio University’s predictions. Of course, autonomous driving vehicles are and will never be perfect. One of the most representative problems that could arise regards determining fault if an accident happens. Would it be the manufacturer’s responsibility? Or perhaps of a mechanical failure or of the vehicle passenger? Moreover, considering that those kinds of vehicles make great use of technology and computational power, criminals might hack them causing serious damage on the streets.

The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars. By TED-ed.

cars as a status symbol

When driving a car, you wear your status on the road. Everyone is aware of which ones are the most expensive. You are constantly reminded of what car you are driving because of the emblem on the hood and on the steering wheel and there is no way of hiding it. For these reasons, many people are inclined to spend more than they should on cars. A study from 2017 showed how this tendency is still present among many youngsters and being a socio-cultural issue, it is really difficult to challenge (Pojani et al., 2017).

But besides buying a car just for status, many buy them because of the image or message it makes. In the case of electric cars, driving one of them makes a strong statement proving that the owner cares about the environment and is doing his part to reduce pollution. A New York Times article demonstrated how people that owned a hybrid Toyota Prius liked the fact that they drive a car known as a hybrid car rather than driving another one from a different brand with a small hybrid logo. Therefore, an electric/hybrid vehicle serves as a statement of devotion to saving fuel and maintaining the environment at a time when conscientious environmentalism has become one of the primary themes.


Name: Mini 4WD toy car

3D Model

Creator: Gonzalo Fernandez

Date: 27-01-2022

Place: Sacile, Italy

Themes: Technology and Society, Environmentalism

Captured with CANON EOS D1300 camera on a tripod, lazy Susan, lightbox

Processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional Software run on Windows 11


Physical Object

Size: 14x10x5 cm

Weight: 95 g

Material: Plastic and metal


Cheng, K.W.E.. (2009). Recent development on electric vehicles. 2009 3rd International Conference on Power Electronics Systems and Applications, PESA 2009. 1 – 5.

Diamond, R. & Amitai Y.B. (2017). Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection.

Hausfather Z. (2020,7 February) Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change. Carbon brief.

Maynard, M. (2007) Say ‘Hybrid’ and Many People Will Hear ‘Prius’. New York Times.

Mavlyanov, A.,  Kadamov, A.,& Vladimir, N., & Khusanjon, S. & Abdukhoris, A. (2018). Electric vehicles: their merits and demerits. 10.13140/RG.2.2.11001.19049.

Pisarov, J. & Mester, G. (2020). The Future of Autonomous Vehicles. FME Transactions. 49. 29-35. 10.5937/fme2101029P.

Pojani, E., Van Acker, V., & Pojani, D. (2018). Cars as a status symbol: Youth attitudes toward sustainable transport in a post-socialist city. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 58, 210-227.

Sanguesa, J. A., Torres-Sanz, V., Garrido, P., Martinez, F. J., & Marquez-Barja, J. M. (2021). A Review on Electric Vehicles: Technologies and Challenges. Smart Cities, 4(1), 372–404.