Automobility in decline? More sharing and electrification in the meantime, though…

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

australia-april-2010-067Peak car? Automobility’s not just in decline, “it seems pretty inconceivable that the car as we know it is going to be around for another 100 years,” says Maurie Cohen, associate professor and socio-technical transitions theorist at New Jersey Institute of Technology. In conversation with Atlantic Cities, Dr Cohen suggests that the private car is going to go the way of the landline phone, and talks about cracks appearing in the automobility regime already (not a new theory). No word on what will replace the car, but he thinks it could be an invention from China.

  • BMW is  thinking about this: the Sunday Times quotes Ian Robertson, head of sales and marketing, as saying: “For the first time since the car was invented, consumers are changing radically”. The ST cites the lowering percentage of young driving licence-holders in the US, that around 80% of under-25s in Tokyo don’t have a car, the rising number of young households without a car in Germany, and lowering mileages driven – and a tripling of urban car club membership worldwide 2006-2012, now at around 3million (three-quarters aged under 40). “Now we need to engage with non car-owning people”, Robertson said.
  • Updates on the latest news from electric/hybrid bus-land here. A trial of wireless ‘opportunity charging’ (topping up at points around the route) is about to start in Milton Keynes; hybrid bus numbers growing rapidly, and a new proposal: a sort of bus/pooled taxi arrangement in a comfy nine-seater EV with free wi-fi (conventional ICE vehicles also available). This service is offered in London by GUTSI (Green Urban Transport)  which describes it as an “executive daily commuting club”, doing pick-ups to go to Canary Wharf and the City. (Cheers to @dbeeton for flagging this up).
  • Q&A with GM’s global electrification director Larry Nitz at Autoblog Green. Nitz sees the Volt as “the inflection point where we started this journey” (to electrification, but sees an all-electric like the Chevy Spark as more of a second-car option for a household, with cost an issue. The mission statement: “We are committed to electrification as a long-term journey. It will not overtake the world instantly, but it does provide a reasonable, rational opportunity to get off of petroleum to an alternative fuel, electricity, that can come from many different sources.”
  • Some projections from research by ExxonMobil (I know…): hybrids to make up 40% of global vehicle fleet by 2040, plug-in hybrids and EVs 5%. Full report here. Forecast from PwC: hybrid and electric vehicles to take 6.3% of market by 2020; flags up charging infrastructure, charging time and cost premium as key issues to resolve.

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