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Published on March 14th, 2015 | by Rocky Mountain Institute


US Transportation System Could Save $1 Trillion Annually, Reduce Carbon Emissions By 1 Gigaton

March 14th, 2015 by  

Originally published on RMI.
By Jonathan Walker, Greg Rucks, Jerry Weiland

In the United States each year, our cars alone cost us well over $1 trillion, burn about 2 billion barrels of oil, and emit about 1.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide—one quarter of all U.S. emissions. The indirect societal cost of these vehicles, including pollution, lost productivity (sitting in traffic), land use for roads and parking lots, road construction and maintenance, and injuries and fatalities cost us another $2 trillion per year, bringing the annual total to a staggering $3 trillion.

A big part of the problem is our cars and how we use them. Today’s vehicles are overdesigned, underutilized, underloaded, inefficient, polluting, and—thanks to the drivers behind the wheel—dangerous. The average personal vehicle sits idle (i.e., parked) for 95 percent of its life. When we do drive our mostly parked cars, we tend to drive alone (more than 75 percent of American commuters are solo drivers) even though our vehicles are designed for four, five, or more occupants (empty third-row seat, anyone?). This leads to so much traffic that we spend 38 extra hours per year sitting in a purgatory of our own making.

In addition, tens of thousands of Americans are killed and hundreds of thousands are injured in car accidents each year. And finally, gasoline engines burn relatively expensive fuel inefficiently, as only ~20 percent of potential energy is converted into useful power for a standard internal combustion engine vehicle.

Thus the average American car owner spends an estimated $0.59 per mile to operate a personal vehicle, which adds up to a yearly cost of about $15,000 per household. Year after year, personal transportation is the second-highest expense for the typical American family, behind only housing and greater than food and leisure combined.

Public transportation systems are also underutilized in many U.S. markets. This often results in taxpayer subsidy, a crucial leg of support to combat transportation inequality since such public transportation often offers the only inexpensive option for those who cannot afford cars.

Reimagining the U.S. Transportation System

But there is a better way. A paradigm shift in our transportation system can drop per mile costs from $0.59 to $0.15, and when combined with public transit unlocks annual savings of $1 trillion. Or, if you’re business minded, you might see that substantial savings as value creation, for oil’s loss is another’s gain, in the form of new mobility service solutions that fill the gap between today’s fossil-fueled cars and tomorrow’s mobility paradigm. (For that matter, consumers too should be salivating. Someone who drives 12,000 miles per year could see his or her annual transportation costs slashed by more than $10,000 for two-car households.)

In addition to the monetary boon, the paradigm shift can reduce U.S. oil consumption by 50 percent (shaving off the full 2 billion barrels associated with our light-duty vehicles), and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1 gigaton per year. Cities, businesses, and entrepreneurs would be hard-pressed to find another arena with so much money on the table paired with so much potential societal benefit.  And the public, you, and us stand to gain the most from this value creation opportunity.

Forget Cars—and Transportation—As You Know Them Today

The transportation paradigm of the potentially not-too-distant future (e.g., starting in earnest by 2020) will look a world apart from the landscape of today, in which the Ford F150 remains the best-selling consumer vehicle in the U.S. Instead, tomorrow’s transportation system will involve shared, electrified, autonomous, lightweight, serviced-based vehicles. This will of course implicate our beloved American obsession with automobiles, but is not entirely synonymous with cars.

A recent convergence of societal trends and technological advances makes this shift possible in the very near future, and it’s in fact the integration of these trends that holds the most promise for unlocking the greatest potential.

Mobility service and vehicle-sharing businesses are booming thanks to smartphones, big data, and a rise in the sharing economy. The tech-savvy cab company Uber is valued at over $40 billion, and this is just a tiny sliver of the pie available to clever mobility entrepreneurs. Treating mobility as a service (MaaS) increases vehicle utilization (just ask any taxi cab driver how many miles he or she puts on a car with how many passenger trips in a year), as mobility service companies compete to create innovative ways to better utilize vehicle assets. For example, car-sharing services like ZipCar boast 30–40 percent or better asset utilization rates.

Electric powertrains begin to dominate in total cost when vehicles are better utilized. Traditional gas vehicles have very high operating cost due to maintenance, repair, and of course, fuel (there’s a reason Bloomberg has called it “pain at the pump”). On the other hand, though electric vehicles (EVs) currently cost more up front (prices are falling rapidly toward parity with conventional autos), they cost significantly less to operate since their fuel (i.e., electricity) is far cheaper than gas, their powertrains are triple or more efficient (i.e., ~120 MPGe), and they have fewer moving parts (less maintenance and repair). Internal combustion engine vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel (or any combustible fuel, for that matter) do not fit well in a high-utilization world, and thus EVs will dominate the mobility service paradigm.

Autonomous, self-driving vehicles have busted out of the pages of science fiction and are now becoming reality. Google’s self-driving car may be the most famous, having logged almost a million miles on public streets, but it’s hardly the only player in the game. Many other companies from traditional OEMs and automotive incumbents like GM, Volvo, and Nissan to Tesla to Silicon Valley tech giants like Apple and Uber to seemingly unrelated telecom companies such as Nokia are working on autonomous vehicles (AVs). So are teams of university researchers, from Stanford to Berkeley to Michigan (UMTRI) to Carnegie Mellon to Columbia.

Self-driving vehicles are able to attain incredible efficiencies for a variety of reasons. They accelerate and decelerate optimally, can draft and platoon with other AVs, and can reduce weight by removing unnecessary human interface equipment like steering wheels and brake pedals. But the largest opportunity for AVs—especially when paired with optimized mobility as a service businesses—is in a massive reduction of the vehicle fleet.

With some recent exceptions, for the past 35 years or so American automobiles have consistently been getting heavier. Investing in lightweighting and vehicle fitness (improved aerodynamics, decreased rolling resistance, etc.) becomes an easy economic decision when vehicles are properly utilized. Again, service-based vehicles will achieve very high utilization and reducing operating cost will become paramount. Expensive and capital-intensive materials like aluminum and carbon fiber composites pay back very quickly in a high-utilization world. In other words, our vehicles are about to go on a serious diet … without compromising performance or safety.

The Five Defining Elements of Tomorrow’s Transportation System

RMI foresees five elements that define tomorrow’s transportation system:

Multimodal transportation—it’s about more than just cars
To unlock cost-effective and convenient mobility in the near and long term, users must experience a level of service equal to or better than what they would experience with a personal vehicle. If mobility options such as walking, biking, riding public transit, ride sharing, and car sharing (think Uber and Lyft 2.0) are seamlessly connected to and interoperable with one another, mobility service providers will deliver the options that best suit user needs and preferences at any given time. Imagine users pulling out their smartphones, indicating their destinations, and having the fastest, most inexpensive, and/or most socially-enriching options made available to them in real time depending on their preferences.

Mobility on Demand (MoD)—from “just in case” to “just in time”
We tend to think of personal vehicles as being available to fulfill any combination of potential needs “just in case”—think of the people who own a high-clearance, 4WD SUV with a third-row seat, even though most of the time they drive it a short distance on paved roads to and from the office, gym, grocery store, school, soccer practice. Meanwhile, regardless of the vehicle choice, it’s usually just sitting there … ready and waiting, just in case. Mobility on Demand (MoD), on the other hand, is a disruptive mobility paradigm in which multimodal mobility is delivered only when and where it is needed: “just in time.” This allows fewer vehicles to do the same job (higher utilization) at lower cost, in turn increasing access to mobility for users from all income levels. This is particularly important to low-income Americans who can spend up to 50 percent of their income on transportation.

Automated mobility—your robot chauffeur awaits
Individual self-driving vehicles are one thing. But the truly revolutionary benefits of AVs come if we consider a bigger picture, a completely automated mobility system. The platforms and business models created by mobility on demand become an order of magnitude more scalable, cost effective, and optimal when the vehicles involved are automated. Columbia University’s Earth Institute found that a city like Ann Arbor, Michigan, could achieve all mobility needs with a fleet of AVs for $0.15 per mile. The University of Texas at Austin found that Austin could meet all of its mobility needs with a fleet of AVs less than one-tenth the size of its existing car fleet.

Purpose-designed vehicles—the right vehicle for the right job
In a sense, we already purpose design vehicles. We have pickup trucks for hauling things, small sedans for commuting, large buses to carry 50 people, and sport utility vehicles for excursions and off-roading. However, consumers rarely use vehicles near their capacity or potential. But in the future, service providers can provide users with the right vehicle for the right job. For commuting, your mobility service provides a comfortable one-seater with WiFI (or one seat in a multi-occupant vehicle ride-shared with other passengers). For your family’s weekend getaway, you get a large AWD SUV. For your home-improvement project, you get a full-sized truck. The implications of vehicle “right-sizing” are a massive reduction in America’s fleet size and a massive improvement in fleet efficiency.

Mobility-friendly cities—urban landscapes should be about people, not cars
Today’s U.S. cities have evolved largely around the personal vehicle. The average city has three non-residential parking spaces for each car and spends a large portion of its budget maintaining roads and other vehicle infrastructure. A city with mobility on demand (MoD) delivered by a connected, automated fleet of purpose-designed vehicles can be redesigned to save money, reduce travel distances, and improve quality of life. Unnecessary parking spaces can be infilled, and unnecessary roads can be converted to pedestrian malls, bike paths, and additional housing and businesses. With less congestion and pollution and more housing and businesses, city centers will be both more livable and more economically viable if they embrace the future of mobility.

A Mobility Revolution is Coming

The world’s largest companies, savviest entrepreneurs, and most forward-thinking cities are working on certain pieces of the puzzle. Tesla, GM, Nissan, VW, and Ford will all have long-range EVs on the market in the next three years. Google, Apple, Uber, Baidu, and some OEMs will have autonomous vehicles on the road within five years. Helsinki, San Francisco, Copenhagen, London, Portland, and many other major world and U.S. cities plan to role out multimodal, mobility on demand services in the next five years, including exclusive zones for such services and/or goals to significantly reduce single-occupant and gasoline-powered vehicles. Already several major U.S. cities are moving aggressively on MoD/MaaS initiatives, with Palo Alto and its Silicon Valley sister cities on the forefront of implementation.

But to unlock the full potential of the coming mobility transformation, exceptionally diverse stakeholders will need to work together—not just across intra-industry siloes, but across industries (automotive, data/IT, software, public works). That’s where we believe RMI—with our whole-systems perspective; legacy of transportation work on oil-free mobility, the Hypercar, and electric vehicle adoption; and convening capability—can foster a holistic approach to the coming transportation transformation. The whole can and will be greater than the sum of the individual parts. Entrepreneurial innovation competing for the $1 trillion prize will result in innovative mobility service solutions that are probably even beyond the limits of what we might imagine today.

This mobility revolution has been a century in the making. Not since the horse and buggy gave way to Ford’s Model T has mobility been in the midst of such a radical change. As with other major societal trends right now—the sharing economy (think AirBnB), accelerating rooftop solar adoption disrupting traditional utility business models—consumers are leading the charge, supported by the disruptive tech companies, service providers, and progressive incumbents that embrace them. The road ahead looks very different from the road behind. The only question now is who will chart the course, who will be along for the ride, and who will be left standing in the dust on the side of the road.

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit for more information.

  • BillW

    Mobility on Demand seems to have a lot of potential, but I wonder how well it can handle one common and one uncommon case.

    The common case: the daily suburban commute. Multimodal is not going to work if it’s not nearly as fast as, if not faster than, driving a car all the way, despite the cost savings. And if it’s gonna be cars, you most likely still need one (albeit smaller) car per commuter, unless very near neighbors share work destinations and schedules. It’s going to be really hard to get people to give up the convenience of their own car, even if there are cost savings. Which means you need a ton of cars during the morning and evening commute times, most of which will be, yes, idle, in between those times. This may be mitigated to the extent that these new transportation options makes cities more attractive places to live, of course. We’d need a lot of de-suburbanization, though.

    The uncommon case: disaster evacuation. I live in San Diego County, California. Just since 2000, I’ve had to evacuate three times due to fires. Folks in the southeast US evacuate for hurricanes. With the latter, at least there’s some prediction time that might allow for pre-placement of extra transportation assets. With fires (which will be increasingly likely under climate change), there’s no such early warning. In the last evacuation, the four-lane divided road leading out of my neighborhood was converted to have all four lanes leading out, and it was still packed with cars. It wouldn’t have been possible to get enough MoD cars _into_ the neighborhood.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Interesting problems. Let’s play with them a bit.

      I assume that most people would like to save some money on commuting as long as the ride was comfortable. Cut your cost by 75% by carpooling with three others and with minimal delays? Lots of people would buy into that.

      With autonomous cars there would be no need for a fixed pool and working around Jim’s meeting schedule and Jane’s out of town trips. You’d set up a pickup time and place and your drop off point. The system would arrange the most efficient route for picking up four people and moving them to where they are headed. No need for a rigid schedule. Probably pay a ‘per mile’ rate that didn’t change if the system decided to run with less than a full load.

      Evacuation. Same thing. By turning over the evacuation process to an autonomous system vehicles could be dispatched to those who need to move first. And routes/times could be optimised to move the most people in a given time period.

      The four lane road leading into your highway could keep one lane open for incoming cars if the system was running the evacuation rather than panicking drivers.

      • Bob_Wallace

        While writing the evacuation part I started thinking about how some people pack their cars full of as many of their valuables as possible. With shared evacuation transportation that would not be an option.

        What if we converted part of the garage we no longer need into a hurricane/fire resistant storage room? Pack in the heirlooms, grab Fluffy, and hop into the seat waiting for you at the curb.

        • BillW

          The garage conversion could work, but who’s going to pay for it? I guess you could also have an “evacuation trailer” packed and waiting for your autonomous vehicle, but then the AV has to be upsized to pull a trailer. Mostly, I think we’d to educate people that they’re only going to escape with a very small amount of their stuff. Nobody gets out with all their stuff now, but you’d like to have room for a suitcase of clothes for each person and some photo albums and such.

          Or maybe you have one wave to get the people and pets out, and then a second wave retrieve pre-packed stuff. Rife for theft opportunities, of course. It’s tough problem. The traffic jam we had evacuating the last time was clearly also a sub-optimal solution. But when it comes time to bug out, people have a tendency to look out for only themselves and eschew orderly planning.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Who pays for personal storm shelters in tornado alley?

            “when it comes time to bug out, people have a tendency to look out for only themselves and eschew orderly planning.”

            Exactly. Self-driving cars can travel more densely on roads, they aren’t going to suddenly change lanes and screw up the traffic flow. There should be no rear end crashes to mess things up. Number of lanes flowing each direction can be changed as needed and the cars will follow the plan.

            Few disasters are ‘bug outs’ where there’s no advance warning and everyone needs to move at once. We see hurricanes and fires approaching. If you want to fill a car with stuff then perhaps you’d have to be an advance evacuee, go a day or two earlier. Perhaps that means a trailer that is hauled to a secure storage area (fences, guards, no one allowed on the lot, that sort of stuff).

            If you wait until late in the process you would get a seat, nothing more.

            I’m not saying that self-driving cars would solve every problem, but it seems to me that they could be as good and likely better than panicking people trying to get out at the last moment with their cows tied to the top of their 1978 Mercury wagon.

      • BillW

        Good point on the on-demand scheduling of car pools, though there would still be the inevitable pick-up and drop-off delays if there are different origins and/or destinations (the airport shuttle problem). You’d definitely need a financial or time (e.g., via HOV lanes) incentive for people to accept pooling with random strangers. I know people who refuse to use public transit under any circumstances because they simply don’t want to be around other people. They demand large amounts of personal space and privacy. And if the vehicles are autonomous, I can see people wanting privacy for work-related activities.

        Re fire evacuation, I still don’t see how you’re going to get enough vehicles into the affected area fast enough. Our evacuations have been declared mid-day for residential areas. Some people do leave work and rush home to evacuate their families, pets and possessions, which would get some (perhaps too small) vehicles into the neighborhood. But too many MoD vehicles might be effectively “stuck” at work.

        • Bob_Wallace

          If one wants to ride by themselves that would simply mean paying a larger fee. That’s what happens now when one chooses to drive solo. Difference is, that ‘premium priced single seat luxury ride with wet bar and large screen TV’ can haul Banker A to work, make a second trip to haul Banker B, and then take Banker C to her lunch meeting.

          We could use a social networking type system, some sort of rating system, to allow people to select those people they are willing to ride with. Get in a car with a non-stop talker or your ex? Hit a button on your cell phone that tells the system “Do not put me in a car ever again with the person currently in the right rear seat”.

          You could tag yourself as “someone who wants to work quietly during the commute” and share a car with other people working away on their laptops/whatever. They could send you a ride with built-in cubicles.

          Different levels of service at different rates. Bangkok has a dual bus system. The regular buses which do not have AC (fans and open windows) and can be packed full at time and upscale buses which are air conditioned and generally don’t sell standing room. If you want cool and less crowding you pay a premium. We could have “business class” cars as well.

          As for disasters, again as long as we aren’t talking about a nuclear meltdown or massive earthquake then we see them coming. While you might not get your evac order until noon on Wednesday, some group of people has been carefully watching the situation and deciding what needs to be done. That means that, for example, all available cars could have been positioned close to your neighborhood hours before it was clear that evacuation was necessary.

    • eveee

      Not quite. Under this scheme, that single person vehicle you used to commute to work in the morning is used by two or three other people during the day to run errands, because the schedule and dispatch program got requests for transportation during the day. Thats a lot more efficient than todays 95% idle mode. Then its returned to your place of work and you drive it home.

      If you want to reserve it in the morning under, “its in my driveway waiting for me”, you sign up for it in advance.

      There is no reason it cannot be just as fast as what you currently do, because it could be the same, except its out doing errands during the day.

      All of this can be on a sliding fee schedule. If you want to pay to have an SUV parked 95% of the time, you can, but it will cost you. Its just that now you will be aware of the costs.

      What does it costs to own a car? Think of how much it costs to buy one, a little bit about how much to pay for a fill up.

      Expenses are divided between, finance, fuel, insurance, and maintenance.

      For the first five years of ownership, its the mainly first ones. During the last five years, its the last ones.

      According to Edmunds, for a 2015 Honda Ridgeline, the cost of ownership over five years is
      For a Civic its about 39,000.
      For a Leaf its 24,393.

      Based on that, everyone would be owning a Leaf. 🙂

      We know thats not true, because of range, but on cost of ownership, …

      Sign me up for a service that provides transportation for less, all included as long as its in my driveway when I need it.

      I can use the extra 3k to 5k a year for trips to Hawaii.

      • BillW

        “Under this scheme, that single person vehicle you used to commute to work in the morning is used by two or three other people during the day to run errands, because the schedule and dispatch program got requests for transportation during the day. Thats a lot more efficient than todays 95% idle mode.”

        Sure, but what’s the percentage of cars needed for the commute that are needed to run mid-day errands? What fraction of workers run mid-day errands on any given day? I’d bet most of the cars would still be idle most of the day, unless you can assume that each is a full four-or-more passenger car during commute times and a single-person car for running mid-day errands. Also, I don’t think it would be practical to have them drive themselves back to suburbia empty to run errands there, then drive back to work areas to handle the evening commute. So, we’re still going to need a fair amount of parking space, with chargers for EVs (they will be EVs, right? They’re going to need some parking time for charging).

        And again, if cost trumped convenience, there’d be a whole lot more people using public transportation and car pools today. MoD could make car pooling a whole lot more convenient, but there’s still the added delay of pick-ups and drop-offs. And multi-modal would add delays.

        I do acknowledge that we clearly need cleaner solutions to our transportation problems. But as an engineer, I’m always inclined to ask “how could this fail to work?” I guess I should go read more details of the idea at RMI and see if they address my concerns, or show some analysis.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Sure, but what’s the percentage of cars needed for the commute that are needed to run mid-day errands? ”

          That’s hard to say. But any city I’ve been in has a lot of cars on the street at 10:30 in the morning and 2:30 in the afternoon. Those can easily be the commuter cars that would otherwise be parked.

          Just consider. We move from 1 person to car to 2 people per car during the commute (minimal pooling). And then use that car to move around the person who would be driving a different car between 9 and 5. That alone cuts the number of cars being used by two thirds. Cost per rider drops below half, parking places needed are cut in half or more.

          Chargers? Sure. But since Person A won’t drive Car A every single day the shared cars can be shuffled off to charge and other cars can take up the slack.

          The Chinese are implementing an interesting system where cars are stored in multi-story parking lots when not in use. They are moved into place using elevators, not ramps. Since drivers aren’t walking around on the storage levels, roofs can be lower increasing cars per volume.

          It doesn’t matter if Car #1982382 is charged and ready to go, just that a car is ready. That allows storing a lot of cars in minimal space.

          Asking “how could this fail to work” is necessary. But it’s also necessary to ask “and how can we get past this potential roadblock”. That makes for a valuable engineer.

        • eveee

          Self driving cars give other options don’t they? In your example, they allow another user to return the vehicle. Ask yourself how zip car works. They also have to deal with users and how they return vehicles.
          I think the study details that parking space is reduced because cars are used more efficiently.
          Yes, cost does not trump convenience. And yet, the real reason for Uber and Zip Car success is convenience. And public transportation is not used by everyone precisely because it is not convenient for everyone.
          There are very few cities in the US with as convenient public transportation as Europe or Japan. And I sympathize with those that cannot use public transportation conveniently.
          I remember reading a number of years ago about a study that asked a group of people why they walked, biked, drove, or used public transport. The answer was the same. It was the most convenient and economic means for them.
          I don’t know how pragmatic the RMI study is, but I do know the present personal ICE auto is an expensive and unsatisfactory contrast to the idealistic vision portrayed in auto commercials.
          Even with these advancements, the reality will probably include waiting at traffic lights.

          • BillW

            I looked at the studies RMI cited, and they seem to be focused on relatively small urban/suburban areas, i.e., the same areas where ZipCar and Car2Go make sense. So perhaps this plan really doesn’t apply to areas with longer commuting distances.

            I’ve used public transit in a number of European cities and found it very convenient. But the advent of personal automobiles led to the development of suburban sprawl in the US, especially here in the West, and public transit is a very expensive problem here. We have some, of course, but it’s MUCH less convenient than driving. Every now and then, I ask Google Maps for a public transit route for some trip and I’m taking, and I often find it will take 2.5 times as long, or more, compared to driving myself. It’s really terrible. We have a huge investment in a built environment that’s really unsustainable in the longer term.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t see it unsustainable. Imagine EVs built from sustainable materials and powered by renewable energy.

            Plus, with self-driving cars we are likely to see an increase is car sharing. Many people would be willing to ride with other people if it was low hassle and cheaper.

            The only issue would be keeping the roads paved.

          • eveee

            Yes. when city planning works with public transit some advances are made. There is a reason few want to use public transit. It’s often treated poorly. Those issues are changing in some places. Think Portland.
            What I observe is that zip car makes inroads in high density areas where car convenience is outweighed by high cost of ownership and good public transit is abundant. Zip car provides occasional, convenient, auto use.
            IMO, the RMI study is an example of what could be done, but behavior is hard to predict.
            A new generation is driving less and owns less autos, something difficult to understand.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “A new generation is driving less and owns less autos, something difficult to understand.”

            When I was young, over a half century ago, a car was how one got away from your family at night in order to spend some time with your friends. Many of us lived too far away from other to skateboard or bike over. And if you wanted some private time with your “close friend” then a car gave you access to privacy.

            Now people live much closer to each other. Teenagers are allowed to do things in their homes (drink, entertain friends with their bedroom doors closed and no questions asked) that was not at all possible ‘back then’.

      • Michael G

        That financially rational transportation consumer certainly exists, but my observation is that they (and it includes me) are small in numbers. Otherwise everyone would drive a Civic-type car (as I do). How small I don’t know but given the large number of ridculously expensive cars and SUVs that are more a statement of status than transportation it can’t be that large. Maybe 10%? 20%? fit your rational model? I think they know the costs now since they pay the lease or loan payments regularly and fill up every two weeks or so.

        The high water mark for car-pooling was in the mid 70’s.

        I think our best hope is getting rid of the ICE and not expecting too much change in current behavior.

        • eveee

          There is no denying the irrationality of many auto consumers. Still, the success of Zipcar, Uber, and other sharing shows that there are some people that see an advantage in alternatives.
          The root of private auto ownership love runs deep into a mythos of free open roads and excess time and money to experience and enjoy them.
          Only time will tell. What I had in mind was an Uber service that just rents out your car during the day when you are at work so you can make money on it instead of having it sit there, useless, all day long while you are at work. Still private ownership and control, but extra benefits.
          You could specify overnight and morning control even. Its all up to the owner.

          • Michael G

            I completely agree that Zipcar-type of sharing will have an impact. How much I don’t know but every little it helps. Didn’t mean to sound negative about it.

          • eveee

            Peace. We live in a time of major change. Its hard to imagine a world of EVs and renewable energy. Its barely started. I guess we are all trying to imagine it.

            I still can’t imagine a self driving car, even though I know they are real. When you think about it, it makes sense. Maybe insurance companies will demand self driving cars for at risk groups like teen agers, who knows?

            They could be programmed to return the car home after a certain time.
            Teen agers would hate it and parents would love it. LOL.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Older folks with poorer vision and slower reflexes. Convicted drunk drivers. All sorts of handicaps.

            The video of the blind guy riding around in a self driving car is an excellent example.

  • Paul in Austin

    Respectfully, I think you made a mistake at the beginning of your article. In the first paragraph you said that U.S. cars used 2 billion barrels a year. In the 7th paragraph, you said a 50% savings would save 2 billion barrels a year.

    All of us make mistakes. By getting a second party to proofread, you can greatly limit them.

  • Good article. Good score to get RMI to allow a reprint.

  • JamesWimberley

    The solution to congestion is congestion pricing. Thus has been known to economists and mayors for decades. It has only happened in a few places including Singapore (run by Confucian technocrats) and London (run by cranks). The institutional and political obstacles to change are larger than the technical ones. Rethinking the taxi buisiness is a tiny part of it – and taxi politics are horrible.

  • Will E

    Stop the burning. it is burning money.
    coal burning, petrol burning, natgas burning.
    it is a grand money burning economy.
    buy and burn and buy and burn again.
    Waiting for Tesla 3. no burn.

    • Coley

      EVs, solar, wind and tidal,great, coal, gas and nuclear rapidly becoming history? fantastic.
      But my log burner stays;)

      • Ross

        As long as the logs came from a sustainable source.

        • Coley


          • Ross


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