Bob Lutz is kind of confusing for us TreeHuggers. Having both denounced the "theory" of manmade climate change and championed the birth of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, it's perhaps understandable that we're not quite sure what to make of him.
But one thing is certain: He's a car guy. Which makes the article he just wrote for Automotive News all the more surprising. Here's just a snippet:
"It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era. The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile.Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules."
The balance of economic power will shift from car makers to fleet operators, says Lutz, and the transition will be more or less complete within the next 20 years—meaning the end of car dealerships and auto mechanic shops as we know them too. Of course, we've heard folks like Tony Seba make such predictions before, and with even more aggressive timelines to boot. And Lloyd has long been arguing we need to rethink our dependence on the car. But Bob freaking Lutz is now saying that the days of personal car ownership are numbered?! That's headline grabbing news for sure.
Whether or not the timeline is correct, it is beginning to seem like the direction of travel is set. The more interesting question, I think, is whether we can grab the opportunity to reshape our cities as things change—or whether we'll simply superimpose a system of automated Ubers over our existing car dependent infrastructure and miss out on the chance to create something better.
From bike superhighways to pedestrianized city centers, from repurposed parking garages to reused old alleyways, cities and towns will have countless ways that they can realign themselves toward people—not cars.
So how do we make it happen?