Cars are becoming so dominant in many countries that most travellers no longer reflect on their mode choice, using private vehicle for all metropolitan trips…
Any city dweller would agree: there are too many cars, and we all suffer the consequences. From air pollution to noise and stress, from injury to death…
- according to the 2004 report on mobility carried out by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), light-duty road vehicles (LDVs) - automobiles, light trucks, and derivatives such as sport utility vehicles and minivans - are by far the world’s most numerous motorised transport vehicles. In 2000 there were nearly 700 million LDVs operating around the world; (1)
- population numbers are growing at less than 1.3% annually, while the world's car fleet is growing at more than 6%. Global production of motor vehicles is therefore increasing at least 4 times faster than human numbers in percentage terms. And the rate is predicted to accelerate; (2)
- the number of passenger cars increased from 16 cars per 1,000 people in 1990 to 27 in 2002 in developing countries and from 400 cars per 1,000 people to 440 in high-income countries, with New Zealand having the highest number, at 613, up from 438 in 1990; (3)
- according to a recent forecast by the United Nations, the number of cars and commercial vehicles, currently 800 millions, will rise to 1,6 billion by the year 2030. Based on related population estimates, that would amount to about one motor vehicle for every 5 people on the planet. The cause of this is the growing demand for cars in countries such as Brazil, China, India, South Korea, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Thailand where the populations will seek to increase their individual mobility as they become more prosperous. (4)
- light-duty vehicles are the principal providers of personal mobility today throughout most of the developed world. The automobile dominates passenger travel: at least 75% of distance travelled is by car, except in Japan (63%) and Spain (69%); (5)
- this role is expanding rapidly throughout much of the developing world. The sweeping transformation of travel, from collective conveyances to private vehicles, generates large benefits, but also large costs. In most cases, individuals are transported in vehicles with 10-20 times greater mass than the person being transported and a footprint at least 100 times larger;
- light-duty vehicles consume a large fraction of the fuel used by the transport sector and, in the course of consuming it, emit a large fraction of that sector’s total emissions of ‘conventional’ pollutants and greenhouse gases;
- crashes involving light-duty vehicles are responsible for by far the largest share of transport related deaths and serious injuries;
- European research suggests that the external costs of transport (accidents, pollution, climate change, congestion and noise) amount to nearly 10% of GDP. Over 90% of these externalities are attributable to road transport. (6)
(1) WBCSD, “Mobility 2030: Meeting the challenges to sustainability”, 2004.
(2) Antony Barnett, “Pace hots up in a world forever on the move”, The Guardian in association with The Carbon Trust, 2005. [ observer.guardian.co.uk/carbontrust/story/0,16099,1511925,00.html]
(3) [ www.heliev.gr/en/international.html]
(4) World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005. There are huge disparities in ranking countries in terms of car ownership. According to the World Bank, for example, the USA ranks only 6th, but several other analysts put the United States at the top of the list. The difference is due to different approaches in considering countries’ automobile fleet.
(5) FIA Foundation (UK), 2001 [ www.fiafoundation.com]
(6) International Union of Railways and Community of European Railways.