Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Will We Need All This Roadway In The Future?

Tonight, the NBC News had a piece on the latest disappointing level of auto sales in America. It seems that both GM and Chrysler(both bankrupt and partially owned by the US taxpayers) are reporting precipitous drops in sales compared to a year ago. In stark contrast, Toyota and Ford were both showing an increase over last year. Ford even beat out Toyota by 1 percentage point.

The NBC reporters view was that the auto buying public was "rewarding"Ford for NOT taking any bailout money and for making better cars. He lay the primary difference in the "attitude of the buyer" being influenced by bailout money. My take on this is that, probably, the line up of auto choices, and particularly hybrid choices, lies with Toyota and Ford. I cannot see me buying a Ford product, but if one wants a hybrid American made vehicle, this company has the wider choices.

Add to this, the following article from the Globe and Mail. US auto ownership is slowly shifting into reverse. There are nearly 4 million fewer auto on the roadways in 2009 than in previous years, and this cannot be attributed to the "cash for clunkers" program which only totaled about 700, 000 vehicles.

The total number of miles driven in the US has declined for 8 of the past 9+ quarters and although it rose at the end of 2009, we are still well below the 2008 levels. Maybe this had something to do with economy and employment problems but the decline began before the price of gas reached $4 a gallon.

And, that age old rite of passage, a teenager getting a driving license at 16 is being practiced by fewer and fewer youngsters. The price of insurance and credit woes are driving a dagger through that part of growing up.

Most of you may discount these stories as simple anomalies, but what if...just what if, these are a precursor to the acceptance of the coming of Peak Oil and the transportation reset? With fewer vehicles sold AND fewer miles driven AND more efficient vehicles AND airline travel becoming more convoluted and troublesome, how will you commute to work or go on vacation?

Better yet, when will we as a city begin planning for the coming changes? Any thought candidates?

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