Response to Prompt 1 Homo Economicus – How New Automotive Technologies Can Change the Way We Use Cars

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The world’s population will continue to grow and consumption rates will continue to rise to keep up with our increasing need to feed, clothe, shelter, and transport a growing population. Consumption of resources will have to increase to maintain standard of living with a fast growing population. However, there are ways to reduce consumption without having to change our standards of living through collaborative consumption like rideshare programs and self-driving cars and green technologies. These new technologies have the potential to not only decrease our consumption in cars, but increase our quality of life.

 

The United States has the most vehicles per 1000 drivers out of any country in the world at 797. For every five people there are almost four cars to service them, spending the majority of the time idling in a garage or parking lot. The big Florida cities — Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando — pretty much require you to own a car to get around. With lack of public transportation and large distances required to travel within these cities, collaborative consumption through car sharing programs and self-driving cars and green technologies looks promising in both reducing the number of cars driven on the streets and parked in parking lots, as well as reducing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

 

In many big cities across America companies like Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber have created rideshare apps that allow people to work as drivers from their own vehicles. From a smartphone app the passenger can summon a driver and pay the driver via credit card through the app for rides. Zipcar has cars located in lots across the country that allow people to use rental cars by the hour. The possible introduction of self-driving cars in the late 2010s and early 2020s is potentially revolutionary to how car transport works. One car can service multiple family members by driving back and forth between whoever needs the car. Self-driving cars can also work as robotic taxi services for people who don’t own cars.

 

Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are catching on with models like the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S gaining popularity. Not only do these cars greatly reduce the amount of gasoline required, but they also get cleaner over time as the power grid gets cleaner by relying less on fossil fuels and more on sustainable energy. By reducing the number of cars idling in parking lots and garages and requiring far fewer resources to run them, these technologies are promising to a future of less consumption without loss of quality of life.

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One response »

  1. I am a big fan sharing, however I see a problem when people do not want to use cars or other items that people before them have used. That being said, one great example of a shared item on a large scale are the Citi Bikes in New York City. These bikes cost $100 a month and allow riders to rent a bike from one station, ride the bike, then dismount and return it to another station; thus eliminating the clutter of bikers on the road, production of bikes, and the headache of recycling or disposing of old bikes. A program like the Citi Bike is a small step towards a greater common share program and a great example of a program that works on a large scale in a large city. It does not take away from the quality of life, but adds to the cleanliness of the city and the people who live there.

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