It’s the 109th anniversary of the first sale made by the Ford Motor Company: a Model A. From that moment, the concept of automobile ownership grew steadily and rapidly in importance in the American psyche; in fact, it expanded to the point that many people felt that their car made a more important statement than their home, their education, or anything else about them.
Fortunately, I think people are beginning to rethink this sad notion. Of course, the environment and our chance for survival within it will benefit greatly from smaller cars – not to mention fewer cars and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). To be sure, this is a long-term transition – one affected by numerous factors: the availability of high quality and convenient public transportation, car sharing, ride sharing, micro-rentals, as well as urban planning that encourages walking and bicycling. Electric transportation that favors smaller cars and e-bikes, charged with renewable energy sources will also play an important role.
But perhaps the most important variable in all this is human behavior. To a large degree, we had identified ourselves with big, heavy vehicles, simply because of our desire to appear affluent, or perhaps charm pretty girls. Are we really ceasing to act like this? More broadly, is the demographic of eco-conscious consumers really expanding?
Personally, I think I see a change occurring. But will it come in time?