You Can’t Change The World One Car At A Time


Tesla, GM, Nissan and other motor industry players want to get you out of your gas guzzling cars, with their nasty tailpipe emissions and into their EVs, whose absence of tailpipes mean less local emissions, even if the nastiness is only moved as far as the nearest non-renewable power station.

You can’t change the world one car at a time because car ownership is as much of a problem as the emissions they produce. Owners invest significant chunks of their income in purchasing an asset that spends most of its time doing nothing.

Uber, Lyft and Tesla (again) want to change things by expanding the use of on demand taxi services to reduce the need for consumers to own cars. The problem is that this still demands sufficient cars on the road to cope with peak demand – which benefits nobody, moving the problem to a different location. Municipalities may gain some advantage from reducing the amount of urban zoning set aside for parking, but that’s of limited value.

An electric bus however offers incredible benefits for consumers, the environment and local councils. By removing up to 50 cars off the road each bus improves the traffic and journey times for all commuters; reduces the stress on infrastructure, reduces parking requirements and for all intents and purposes is self-driving without requiring investment in technology that is yet to be proven.

For a city like Auckland, where the vast majority of electricity is generated from renewables (up to 95%), where infrastructure is already setup to support mass transit by bus and where the introduction of rail service is punishingly expensive; this seems like an absolute no brainer.

The reason why this topic is so interesting right now? Early this week US Bus company Proterra introduced its second generation ePSV – the Catalyst E2 – which boasts a electric only range of over 550km – more than enough to cover daily routes on the North Express route or any of the three city ring routes.

Together with the expected introduction of toll roads and a significant increase in the number of busways and bus lanes, Auckland has a perfect opportunity to push its green credentials forward and become and exemplar provider of city-wide mass transit.

In any case, this seems to me like a much better vision of the future than that being pushed by companies with self-interest very much to the fore.

Self-driving Bus or self-driving car? I know which would be my choice every time.