The Cold War was not necessarily a fun time to live through, in geopolitical terms. Whether you served in the military during that era or not, the constant threat of nuclear annihilation hung overhead. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the urgency for the United States to innovate was constant.
Today we benefit from cellular phones, rockets that can reach space, the internet, GPS navigation and countless other advances that took place in the race between Soviet-aligned countries and the West to technologically one-up each other. As philosophers as early as Aesop put it: "Necessity is the mother of invention." During the Cold War, "necessity" was developing as many non-nuclear ways as possible to beat the other side.
Today, there's a growing sense of urgency surrounding both the decline of oil reserves that are easily accessible and climate change. Large companies and plucky inventors alike have risen to meet the many challenges.
Toyota led the charge among major automakers with its ground-breaking Prius way back in 1997. While technically not a hypercar (yet), the Prius draws on many hypercar principles to achieve well-above average fuel efficiency. U.S. automakers got in the game relatively late, but committed to efficiency after their near-death experience in the financial crisis of 2008.
But it's not just the majors doing the innovation. Individuals, college teams and even groups of high school students are crowd-solving the problems of making hypercars, through incentives such as the Progressive Automotive X Prize. The contest is billed as "The $10 Million Competition for the Best 100 MPGe Production-Capable Cars."
If the past is any clue, numerous side benefits could accrue tomorrow from innovations taking place today. Who knows what tremendous boons to business, personal productivity and to society in general will spring from the technologies that emerge from hypercar research?