A portent of the future can come from the most unlikely sources, and perhaps you wouldn't expect to find a futuristic transport model amongst the retirement communities of the Florida everglades.
You know the sort of places we're talking about here, not least if you've ever read J. G. Ballard.
Ballard writes about the retirement communities of southern Spain, but in Florida we're basically dealing with the same thing: pensioners blissed out on prescription drugs with nothing to do but shop and play golf.
The US example Wired magazine features this month was originally founded as a trailer park with a golf course attached. Now there are twenty four 9-hole golf courses here. The daily routine for most seems to be: health resort; golf club; gun club; shop; ice-cream. And thus is America. Apparently the residents are very happy.
One important psycho-geographic statistic which surfaces from the Wired article is that the average pensioner needs forty square miles in which to retire. This is the size of the Florida Villages Resort, and the size of the end of your life.
And, when you do retire, how do you transport yourself around these forty square miles, how do you get at the multitude of services available, from Walmart to Starbucks and back, especially if you have glaucoma or ME which would normally restrict your transport options?
Therein lies our portent of the future, because in Florida Villages the golf cart has taken over. In fact, this isn't strictly true as the place was designed from the ground up as a golf cart community. Pathways criss-cross the community land and act as highways for the cart, carts which have been modified in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.
In fact let's just stick to weird - these buggies have been modified in all sorts of weird ways, enacting that pastiche Americans seem to be so fond of as to live a permanent version of. And you'll find carts here designed to resemble a Hummer, a vintage Ford roadster. Some are decked out in the colours of a favourite baseball team.
"It becomes more than transportation for a lot of people," says Gary Lester, VP of community relations for the Villages. "It's who they are as a community."
The community has broken the apparently unbreakable compact between the American citizen and the oversized motor vehicle; and, by their use of what is technically an electric vehicle (EV), begun a move towards the more environmentally friendly, not to mention the more civilized (if not dignified).
The adoption of these smaller, limited range EVs perhaps points towards the future of private transport. It's true that they are in the Florida villages coupled to differently organised communities; but then infrastructural change is something we might have to get used to the idea of if we want to get greener.
The trickle-down effect of any sizable community using EVs (Florida Villages is getting up towards 100'000 residents) is bound to have an impact on the perceptions of manufacturers and public alike.
And the added benefits of littler cars, of the open-air and customising on community generally cannot be overlooked. In the UK these qualities are currently only available to view somewhere like Southend-on-Sea. Just think, if everywhere were like Southend?