The Truth About Cars » sustainability The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » sustainability Hamburg to Ban Cars From City Center By 2034 Fri, 17 Jan 2014 15:15:02 +0000 Hamburg

Germany’s presence in the motoring landscape is enormous, from the ongoing ‘Ring Time contests between the world’s automakers and their halo cars, to the famed Autobahn that connects Nürburg — and other cities in the country — with each other. Yet, the nation’s second-largest city, Hamburg, will eliminate Porsches, BMWs and Fords from its city center by 2034, when its car ban goes in effect.

Dubbed the Green Network by city planners, the urban sustainability plan will promote travel to the city center through walking, riding and mass transit along a series of green thoroughfares now in development. In turn, people who would normally be in their cars could instead explore the many restaurants, parks and shops they would have otherwise may have missed, as well as enjoy activities such as swimming, biking and boating.

When completed, Hamburg’s Green Network will connect parks, cemeteries, playgrounds and other green spaces throughout the entire city with each other, covering 17,000 acres — 40 percent — of the city’s entire area. The ultimate goal behind the project is to help the city become carbon neutral while heading off storm flooding; Hamburg’s median temperature has gone up 1.2 C (34 F) to 9 C (48 F) over the past 60 years, while sea levels rose 20 centimeters during the same period.

Currently, the only other European city to ban cars from its center is Copenhagen, Denmark, which is undergoing a plan to establish 26 bicycle superhighways connecting the center to the outskirts of the city in an effort to become carbon neutral by 2050.

While the Green Network has its critics — based mainly upon boosting the city’s economy by using the proposed green spaces for housing and business development — supporters of the plan claim the network will boost the economy anyway by attracting the highly educated into the city. A further claim adds that Hamburgers are willing to abandon their cars for the Green Network, a rare move in a nation defined in part by their contributions to the automobile.

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Shields Up! For Volkswagen’s Product Budget Mon, 25 Nov 2013 15:00:51 +0000 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

With plans to give the world more of their wonders, such as the XL1, Twin Up! and Jetta, through 2018, Volkswagen has opted to shield their product spending from cost-cutting.

The German automaker plans to devote 65 percent of their overall $113 billion investment over the next four years to their line of wares and the technology behind them in all vehicle classes, both tied to their MQB modular archecture and the coming Euro 6 emissions standard.

Spending related to anything other than the above — such as construction projects for new facilities — will drop to $17.2 billion between this year and 2015, all in an effort to boost financial sustainability and profit margins.

Speaking of profits, Volkswagen aims to raise their operating margin from 3.5 to 6 percent of sales, and expects their 2013 margin to match the $15.6 million earned in 2012 when the year draws to a close.

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The China Syndrome: 50 Million Cars A Year? Fri, 05 Feb 2010 10:50:10 +0000

Yesterday, we reported that China wants to be a market of 20m cars in 2012. We didn’t predict that, just reporting the news, ma’am.

A hue and cry ensued:  “Can’t be!”

Commentator ohsnapback, who’s forte is lawyering, a much more complex field than economics, prognosticated an immediate burst of the Chinese bubble, with a mega tonnage of more than 100 times of our housing bubble.  The argument was promptly defused. After all, China doesn’t borrow money. They lend it. Mostly to the U.S.

Then, commentator ra_pro rolled out the really big ordnance: “As I said many times previously: Demography is Chinese destiny as it is Japan’s.” If people would only stop prattling on about demographics, and would check their data first.

Kindly compare age distribution Japan 2020 with age distribution China 2020.

For a real shock, compare age distribution Japan 2050 with age distribution China 2050.

For added spice, factor in that the last Chinese census (it was taken in 2000 and never really finished) is considered as deeply flawed.

Conservative estimates say that around 200m people are living off the books in China, more than the whole population of Japan.

A huge chunk of children have not been reported at all, wrote Daniel M. Goodkind of the U.S. Census Bureau. A correct count of births is the lifeblood of demographic projections. If you miss more than a quarter of the children born in any given year, your projections will be off by 25 percent for generations to come.

Not to worry: If China has something in abundance, then it’s people.

The population bomb turning out as a dud, the sustainability squadron was launched: “There isn’t enough space, water, air or oil to sustain Chinese expansion of 20 million cars per year for a very long time,” quoth ra_pro.

Funny, when Americans bought 17m cars a year, where were the people who said “there isn’t enough space, water, air or oil to sustain expansion of 17 million cars per year for a very long time?” Actually, that number still is a wet dream in Detroit and DC. Our own Ed Niedermeyer pointed out in the New York Times: only if the “salad days of 2000″ are bested, the tax payer will ever have a chance to get his or her money back from GM. Dream on.

Now, for the really scary part. There are more than 800 cars per thousand people in the U.S., more cars than people with drivers’ licenses. In China, there are only some 76 cars per thousand in China. In most developed countries, the number is between 500 and 600 per thousand.

“They’ll never get there,” I hear someone say. “The poor farmers will ride bicycles and oxcarts forever.”

Not so fast.

In Poland 20 years ago, a car was something for the powerful party elite. Today (actually, by end of 2008) there are 420 cars per thousand in Poland.

So for when will we grant China the same standard of living (or at least driving) as the people in Poland? Many Chinese would object at this point. I have to go to Poland on occasion – not that I’m looking forward to it – and last time I was there, the mayor of a good sized town complained that they didn’t have the money to light the Christmas tree on central square. The local KTV in any Chinese village is an orgy of neon all year round.

420 cars per thousand, in China that comes out to a total of 550m cars on the road, if the 1.3b population is correct. Or 630m cars, if the more likely 1.5b population is right. Let’s stick with 1.3b pop and 550m cars, in order to avoid even more anxiety.

How many cars do Chinese have to buy to get to the level of Poland in a reasonable amount of time? Let’s ignore popular wisdom that Chinese cars fall apart the minute you drive them off the lot, and let’s assume a really low scrapping rate. To make calculation easy, let’s call it 500m more cars needed.

(Don’t hyperventilate. That’s only twice the number of cars on the road than in the U.S. and the U.S. has only 1/5th or so of the population of China.)

So how much time do we give China to reach the same standard of living (or driving) as Poland in 2008? 10 years? (Many Chinese would loudly object.) That’s 50m cars per year. Yes, 50,000,000.

You think that’s impossible? Ok, then let’s give the Chinese 20 years to catch up with Poland. (Many Chinese would take to the streets at this point, something the Chinese government really would not appreciate.) That’s 25m cars per year.

Still impossible?

Hint 1: Beijing, a city of 17m people, already has 4m cars. 240 cars per thousand. Poland had 265 cars per thousand in 2000. Shanghai has so many cars that the city has to limit growth by auctioning off license plates. People want to drive so badly, that they pay more for a plate in Shanghai than for some new cars. By the way: The population of Beijing and Shanghai, added together, roughly equals the population of Poland.

Hint 2: A gallon of gas of dubious quality costs $4.45 in Beijing. Using the ever so popular purchasing power conversion, it would feel more like $8. (The junior secretary, who gave me the 8 RMB/liter rate, makes $300 a month – I’m no slave driver, it’s the going rate.) And nevertheless, they are buying cars like there is no tomorrow. An unsaturated market does that.

But what about the gasoline?, a publication definitely beyond suspicion of promoting worldwide wastage, recently pointed out: “The president of China’s Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation has said that Chinese officials are drafting new mileage standards that would require an 18 percent improvement in fuel economy by 2015. New cars in China already average about 35.8 mpg and under the new rules, would be required to get 42.2 mpg by 2015. The new U.S. standards require an average mgp of 35.5 by 2016.”

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