- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Auto crisis predates the credit crisis

The decline of the "auto nation" is not a short term phenomenon coming out of the credit crunch. It is a fundamental world-wide rethink of the long term viability of the whole automobile economy with US automakers at the epicentre. People may still want to ignore it, but it's happening - auto has become a sunset industry in the US, and my bet is it may soon be worldwide. There might be an argument for US handing out helicopter loads of federal money to permit an orderly decline rather than collapse of the industry in 6-months, but "you're gonna pay tomorrow" as the song goes - Americans better be ready to pay the price for bailing out companies that make things nobody wants any more.

Even if they manage to retool, any hybrid or EV market that develops will be a far cry from the scale of current auto markets, because people have discovered that automobile society itself is not ideal. It does not matter what kind of automobile, the just won't sell like they used to. This graph shows that clearly.

And thank God for that. Many people have been praying and hoping for the demise of Automobile society for a very long time. It looks as though they may be heard.

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