Stein X Leikanger
by Stein X Leikanger
it s the mobility stupid

I’m in tears. Back in 1972, Stewart Udall, interior secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, proposed that the auto companies branch out into “exciting new variants of ground transportation” to produce minibuses, “people movers,” urban mass transit and high-speed intercity trains. Instead of expanding the Interstate highway system, he suggested that the road construction industry take on “huge new programs to construct mass transit systems.” And he called for building “more compact, sensitively planned communities” rather than continuing urban sprawl.” We all know what happened. Detroit, today desperately seeking a miracle, worked hard to ensure that this would never happen. Even today, while screaming and begging for tax dollars, Detroit is lobbying against California’s stricter emissions laws that dictate smaller cars. Here’s the thing: people don’t want cars, we want mobility. And the reason I’m in tears is that lots of people saw this, almost FIFTY years ago.

There are purposes for which we do want a car, but most of our transportation needs can be solved with clearer thinking, and applied solutions that have a vastly improved energy impact. The “many cars in every household” mindset has created a non-viable industry, and a non-viable attitude to transportation. Robert Goodman, professor of environmental design at Hamsphire College, writes about this in today’s NYTimes. I could hug the man. He asks that the “Obama administration should ask the companies, as a condition of financial assistance, to begin shifting from being just automakers to becoming innovative ‘transportmakers.'” Because that’s what we need. It’s all about the mobility, stupid – not about having three cars in each garage.

The coming years will see an incredible revolution in transportation – and when we get through our fixed view of what we thought was right, and emerge into what’s possible, we’ll find ourselves smiling from ear to ear at what fun it has become to move around in the world. (But before that happens, the industry behemoths have some concessions to make – their thinking has been all wrong, from at least 1972 onwards.)

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  • Volvo Volvo on Nov 17, 2008

    Who is this Geeber and why is he so reasonable?

  • Geeber Geeber on Nov 17, 2008

    Volvo, Thank you. People need to realize that just because others make choices or have preferences that they may not agree with or don't even like, it doesn't mean that said people are "stupid" or "manipulated by evil (insert the villan du jour here)." We've been going to hell in a handbasket since I was a kid in the early 1970s, and people have been predicting the "death of the car" since about the late 1950s. I picked the wrong career - as a professional doomster, I could have simply dusted off the old arguments, updated them for curent events, and received plenty of time on CNN. Which would have enabled me to afford a bigger house, lots of first-class travel to interesting places and maybe even a luxury-sport sedan, all while I extolled the virtues of green, urban living.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.