Electric Cars Helpful, but Not the Sole Advance in Mobility

By Berg, Peter | CCPA Monitor, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Electric Cars Helpful, but Not the Sole Advance in Mobility


Berg, Peter, CCPA Monitor


FUTURE TRANSPORTATION WILL RELY ON BIKES AND BUSES. TOO:

As we enter the second half of the oil age and the first half of the climate change era, the electrification of the drive train in automobiles is being heralded as the single-most important contribution to sustainable living. Even though road traffic is only part of a society's energy footprint, auto manufacturers around the globe are working feverishly towards the commercialization of electric vehicles, including pure battery, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell cars.

These technologies will be needed in the future if we want to ensure a diverse set of personal transportation modes. Given the extent to which our economic activity depends on road transportation, a case can be made for sustaining a certain level oí car ownership to support our standard of living. This is one reason why research into electric vehicles should be continued - in addition, of course, to their potential for reducing emissions and oil dependence.

There are several aspects related to electric cars, however, which are usually not mentioned when discussing the future of the automobile.

First of all, the most sustainable approach to transportation is to reduce the demand for car ownership in general, and this is closely related to urban planning. In a 2005 study, Statistics Canada assessed the car dependency of the population as a function of the distance of a residence from the nearest urban centre. It found that the dependency is very pronounced above 10km, but drops off remarkably below 5km. This runs against our trend of supporting ever-expanding urban sprawl that lacks new town centres, designed to provide places to live, work, shop, dine, etc.

Urban design is arguably the largest failure in North American transportation planning. We might be good at solving traffic problems in one location, but it happens often at the expense of creating higher traffic volume somewhere else. Meanwhile, the urban living experience is degraded by this planning approach of widening roads and adding lanes.

Secondly, the most sustainable mode of transportation is, and will always be, cycling, at about 0.05 mega-joules of energy per person per km. It beats walking. Even the next most efficient modes, such as rail or bus, consume 10 to 30 times as much energy. Depending on the number of passengers, a motor car uses about 50 to 100 times as much energy, and this number will not be reduced sufficiently through the introduction of electric automobiles.

There is wide agreement that automotive technology has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of each vehicle, but the rapid growth of the world's automotive fleet might very well offset any advances in efficiency. In addition, at the socioeconomic level, there are three main problems that will not be addressed or remedied by electric vehicles: 1) traffic jams, 2) health symptoms (stress, obesity, feeling of isolation, accidents) related to commuting and carcentric living arrangements, and 3) the high and growing maintenance costs of road infrastructure. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Electric Cars Helpful, but Not the Sole Advance in Mobility
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.