Where Cars Fit In The Future - InformationWeek
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Where Cars Fit In The Future

Cities are crowded, and in the years ahead, the transportation industry will have to adapt as more markets have less room for private cars.

New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
New York Auto Show: Cool Cars With Hot Tech
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

People around the world are moving from rural to urban areas. And if they prosper, as economic trends suggest they may, many in this emerging middle class will want cars.

But there's not enough room. Separate reports from consultancies Deloitte and McKinsey suggest mobility in urban areas will have to change to accommodate a population growth that makes traditional automotive ownership increasingly expensive and impractical.

Drivers in major cities know this already.

In San Francisco, where traffic congestion is said to be the second worst in the US, city policies and projects aim to get people out of personal cars. Selected street lanes have been painted red and restricted to buses and taxis. Bike lanes have been added. Streets are being torn up to accommodate the Central Subway, an underground transit extension. Construction continues on the new Transbay Terminal, which will accommodate high-speed rail.

In larger cities, driving, maintaining, and parking cars can be even less appealing, which is why car ownership in New York and Tokyo is so low.

The auto industry has been aware of the issue for years, though its attention has been piqued by the rise of ride-sharing companies and technological challenges from the likes of Google and Tesla.

(Image: McKinsey)

(Image: McKinsey)

In 2012, Ford Motor executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr., talked about the need for technology to prevent global gridlock. That same year, BMW's venture group invested in Embark, a mobile app to simplify travel by mass transit, as part of its "vision for mobility in big cities." At CES 2015, Ford CEO Mark Fields described how Ford aims to be both a product and a mobility company, an acknowledgement that transportation may have to become a service rather than a purchased product in crowded urban areas.

Urban Issues

Stefan Knupfer, a director at McKinsey's sustainability practice and co-author of "Urban mobility at a tipping point," in a phone interview with InformationWeek said big cities have two major problems: traffic congestion and air pollution.

United Nations figures suggest that 7 million people die prematurely each year because of air pollution, partially as a consequence of transportation policy. The organization also projects that migration from the country to the city will add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050. Though close to 90% of this growth is expected to be concentrated in Africa and Asia, every urban area has to grapple with how mobility must change to accommodate population growth.

"The situation right now is that cities have to react," said Knupfer.

Is Innovation the Solution?

Knupfer sees four technological trends that can help: in-vehicle connectivity, electrification, car sharing, and autonomous driving.

In-vehicle connectivity will allow drivers to take advantage of real-time analysis of traffic data. That's already happening to some extent through mobile apps like Waze, which relies on crowdsourced traffic information. Waze is working with cities like Boston to share data with civic traffic control systems. But real-time traffic awareness will become more significant with the deployment vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems and related infrastructure. These systems will allow cars to drive closer together and to avoid collisions, among other benefits.

Electrification will bring electric vehicles into the mainstream. Market research firm IHS anticipates sales of electric vehicles and hybrids will rise from 2.3 million vehicles in 2014 to 11.5 million by 2022, reaching 11% of the global market. Developments like Tesla's Gigafactory should accelerate the trend by making batteries more affordable.

[The great electric car race is on: Apple Project Titan: Electric Car May Arrive by 2019.]

Car sharing will help cars spend less time idle while reducing the need for personal vehicle ownership. According to McKinsey, cars are unutilized 90% of the time or more. The firm projects that fully autonomous vehicles, such as those being tested by Google and other

Page 2: Gradual or rapid change?

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2015 | 3:24:18 AM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
@nasimson I would say it all depends... but we could never overlook the human nature of possesing things or owning them :)
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 10:03:01 PM
Re: Where Cars Fit In The Future
I personally don't want to own a car. The expense of owning & maintaining one, gas, parking, etc. seems too high to justify if you add it all up, particularly when you factor in insurance (which goes up in the event you ever actually need it, ensuring you never get your money's worth). I live about 20 minutes outside of Boston, so while it is Urban here, I can imagine it's only that much worse in the city proper. I think a combination of over-and-under-regulation makes it rough on drivers. You're required to have insurance by law (here, at least) but the insurance companies can do mostly whatever they want to you. Officers can camp in front of toll booths (oh, yeah, toll booths are a thing) and give you a ticket for just about anything. Surely there's a better way.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 4:19:03 PM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
"Many areas are unsuitible to traditional public transit"

@Kstarton: I agree that not every area can be pablic-trnasport friendly and you need considerable investment in the infrastructure to improve public transport conditions before passengers can begin to use it. I guess that seems to be the only way out.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 4:14:22 PM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
 

"The most profitable area seems to be having automated buses. That cover many routes without generating much traffic. But for this the traffic system.has to be smart, which means only a smart city can have full automation systems used in it."

@Yalanand: I don't think buses are an effective solution because they'll still be running on the road. What you need is something that doesn't clog up the road and frees it for other cars. I don't think this would work in the long run.

 
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 4:11:10 PM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
"Just as used to be the love of horses, people love their cars. Shiny, stylish symbols of freedom and posession. Most car owners wont give up their cars no matter how good the alternate public transport system is."

@Nasimson: I agree. Cars are not just a medium to commute for people. For some it represents a hobby and also a way of life. Those enthuisiasts will continue to own cars and drive them no matter how convenient and cost-effective public transport is.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 1:50:41 PM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
@sunitaT0:

> A responsible government would encourage people to get rid of their cars by
> reimbursement of their money. Not all of it, but the current market price.

Just as used to be the love of horses, people love their cars. Shiny, stylish symbols of freedom and posession. Most car owners wont give up their cars no matter how good the alternate public transport system is.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 11:28:03 AM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
@sunitaT0: A responsible government would encourage people to get rid of their cars by reimbursement of their money. Not all of it, but the current market price.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 11:26:48 AM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
@sunitaT0: You are right. The most profitable area seems to be having automated buses. That cover many routes without generating much traffic. But for this the traffic system.has to be smart, which means only a smart city can have full automation systems used in it.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 11:23:26 AM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
Only fewer cities in this world are thoroughly connected. When I went to Kolkata I was awestruck at the number of bus routes, and they covered every stop. You don't even need cabs if you don't mind a half an hour more journey. The point is, where cities are thoroughly connected, there using automation is difficult. We can try an automated system in a place that doesn't get much traffick.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2015 | 8:43:34 AM
Re: No Public Transit is being built
Many areas are unsuitible to traditional public transit. I live in a spread out area with a water table high enough to make a subway infeasable. When I got a job in a neighboring city I checked to see if I could take a bus. it would have been a 3 hour trip with 4 or more bus transfers, or it was a 20 minute drive. There are no bike lanes, or even street lights to facilitate biking or sidewalks for walking here. Any community that wants to diminish car traffic needs to build alternatives even if they aren't set up like the bigger cities.
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