Can America end her love affair with cars ?

This was the question I had on my mind as I read that for the first time in 60 years, the US car fleet decreased by four million in 2009. Is this a limited phenomenon or will it continue ?

The Earth Policy Insitute believes this trend could last until at least 2020. This makes sense to me as with the economic crisis and relatively high oil prices, people are looking for other options.

From public transportation to carpooling and from carsharing to bikes (traditional or electric), there are many alternatives to cars. But will it be enough to change the American way of life ?

Another explanation of this can be explained by the horrendous traffic congestions. To the study :

The Texas Transportation Institute reports that U.S. congestion costs, including fuel wasted and time lost, climbed from $17 billion in 1982 to $87 billion in 2007. (note : that’s 63 billion euros)

Mayors across the country are waging a strong fight to save their cities from cars, trying to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Many are using a “carrot-and-stick” approach to reduce costly traffic congestion by simultaneously improving public transportation while imposing restrictions on the use of cars.

Still on public transportation, a recent study carried out by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows that US urbanites can save up to $13,000 per year by switching from cars to buses and the likes. The average savings are of $9,200 (6,600 euros).

This is a lot of money (and also a lot of potential reduction of CO2 emissions). I hope such figures will lead American leaders to act on promoting such means in large cities.

Here is my conclusion. To the Earth Policy Institute :

Japan may offer some clues to the U.S. future. Both more densely populated and highly urbanized than the United States, Japan apparently reached car saturation in 1990. Since then its annual car sales have shrunk by 21 percent.

Less cars, less pollution, less greenhouse gases ? This is a real bright prospect for America. Be sure that I will keep you posted on further findings on that topic.


Edouard is a sustainability and energy professional committed to bringing our societies to a carbon neutral future. He has been writing on related topics on this very blog since 2007.

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2 Responses

  1. Thursday, March 11, 2010

    […] Therefore, California may seek the waiver provided for under Section 209(b) of the Clean Air Act.Can America end her love affair with cars ? :: Sustainable …This was the question I had on my mind as I read that for the first time in 60 years, the US car […]

  2. Monday, May 3, 2010

    […] this is fantastic news and I hope this will help a bit America end her love affair with cars. This will benefit the country – and our planet – in many […]

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