We do have an obsession with cars. As already mentioned yesterday: even when faced with global warming and having the knowledge of how much cars contribute to it, we still find ways to get more people to own them by making them smaller and more affordable. And every car of course is not only a polluter when being used but creates extra pollution from the point of mining the mineral resources to creating the raw materials to building the and maintaining the factories to building new roads to the energy needed for various transport in all these chains as wellyas the energy required to run the factories … and the list goes on. Electric, hydrogen and hybrid cars don’t change these equations much.
And then there is our use of them. Apart from getting us from A to B the are unused most of the time, and yet they are very expensive to buy. More often than not they transport one, maybe two people although they are generally built for five. If we would run a business on these economics it would not survive for long. So, what do we use them for, why do we think we need them? Simply to move around. Surely there must be better, more efficient ways to do that, even in our urban landscapes that are built for cars.
And yes, there are, created by some more enlightened city councils and entrepreneurs. They might represent the beginning of a “smart multimodal transportation future,” a world with a diverse array of transportation choices, from shared electric bikes and scooters to private vehicles of all kinds. Some of them are still car-based but are built on a smarter usage model – like the Zipcar, City Car Share, I-Go, and other forms of car sharing and mircorental services, which provide alternatives to car ownership. In Paris, there’s Véllib, the system of 20,000 rental bikes and 1,500 automated stations — roughly one every 300 meters throughout the city center — which affords members with low-cost bike rentals (the first half-hour is free) that can be returned to any station. In Ulm, Germany, Daimler has launched Car2Go, a similar system using small NEVs.
The philosophy behind all these models is they provide a way to get from one point to another; what doesn’t count anymore is owning the mode and object of transport but the transport itself. Transport ceases to be an object of desire and simply becomes a means to get things done, like turning on the tap when having a shower. This is the true paradigm shift the car industry has to go through. And maybe they’re beginning to see the light …
- Joel Makower‘s post “Reinventing Mobility: It’s Not All About the Cars, Stupid” on the same topic.
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