11 Replies to “Car Era Coming to an End…”

  1. I like that quote “We’ve hit the pocketbook point”. This is really what its all about. Affordability of our mobility.

  2. I’m always surprised to learn that people are just now figuring out transit is an affordible option.

    A bus that carries 30 people is a lot cheap than a car with one person in it. It seems pretty obvious.

  3. Two things will sustain the viability of the “car era”:

    1) The US average fleet economy is, ~25 mpg. The average age of a car is ~5 years. A decade of buying fuel efficient cars can reduce our nationwide consumption by 40+%.

    2) Gasoline is $4/gal or $0.031/MJ. Electricity (in the PNW) is $0.08/kWh or $0.022/MJ, or about 70% the price. A car, however, is only ~20% efficient, whereas an electric car can be around 80%, so you also use 1/4th the fuel. A viable electric car makes fuel costs a paltry sum again.

  4. 1) The most fuel efficient cars available in the us are in the 30-40 mpg range. And who’s to say gas won’t be $8 by the end of that decade, wiping out any gains from buying a car twice as efficient?

    2) Electric cars have a distance problem, though. There aren’t batteries big enough to move a car from Spanaway to Seattle both ways each day. So even if electric cars keep the automobile viable, they won’t keep mega-sprawl viable.

  5. Actually PHEVs will see huge advancements in the next 10 years that will allow them to replace the typical Gasoline car. The Chevy Volt has a range of 46 miles on battery power alone which is plenty to cover a typical commute. The Volt also has a range extending gasoline engine that will charge the electric engine. This will extend the range up to 400-600 miles, can’t remember the exact number.

    If a typical person drives 60 miles a day, the equivalent fuel efficiency will be 150 mpg. If they use the whole tank of gas it will be 50mpg. The idea of the PHEV is to cover the expensive of short driving trips, which make up 90% of all traveling in a car.

    So the Car Era won’t come to an end. The obstacle and what I think will cause an increase in mass transit use in the foreseeable future is that only 10,000 Chevy Volts will be launched in 2010 and will cost over $40,000. It will take some years for a car to be released that a middle-class family would be able to afford. So the Car Era will never die, it will just slow down and hopefully give us an opportunity to build mass transit in the meantime.

  6. Regardless of how much longer the car era will last, I do believe this is the beginning of the end.

    The truth of the matter is that livability is generally increased without car culture. Some examples:

    – People get more exercise from walking or biking
    – petty crime reduction because more people are out and about
    – human power will always trump mechanical power in terms of energy efficiency
    – communities will be better connected
    – more class interaction and awareness

    This is not to say that we will get rid of cars entirely, but driving being the standard is just not realistic or desirable anymore. I think cities and regions will continue to develop better walkability, bikability, and mass transit systems and essentially driving a car will be, to say the least, difficult.

  7. @Pitch

    “Actually PHEVs will see huge advancements in the next 10 years that will allow them to replace the typical Gasoline car.”

    Yeah, great. I work in the electrical utility industry. We are totally not prepared to handle millions of new load-consuming autos on our present grid. The capacity just isn’t there.

    It could technically exist and fuel about 10-18% of our automobiles (http://www.pnl.gov/energy/eed/etd/pdfs/phev_feasibility_analysis_combined.pdf).

    Transit running on electricity has direct regenerative braking, the load impacts aren’t nearly as great, and the overall system efficiencies granted from transit dwarf the point to point transport capabilities of the car.

  8. Chris,

    It will take a long time for the entire US fleet to flip over to the electrical grid. Plenty of time for electrical companies to update whatever they need to update. The average fleet turnover in the US is every 17 years.

    Within that you’ll see some cars that are electrical, some that run on biodiesel, some on celluostic ethanol and some that probably still use gasoline.

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