Chapter 1: Introduction: a natural history of the car
If you are expecting a conventional academic book about the car industry, you are likely to be disappointed, so - to paraphrase a Dutch expression - you may as well unhook here. Instead, this is to some extent an account of a personal journey, although it does occasionally stray into territory that may be recognizable to an academic - that is, after all, my background. The problem I have is that I am both a car enthusiast - a 'petrol head' if you like - and an environmentalist - a 'tree-hugger'. These two inclinations are, on the face of it, a challenge to reconcile. Yet, that is what I have been attempting to achieve over the past twenty-five years or so. In the process I have become what one of my colleagues describes as 'a philosopher of the car industry'. This industry tends to be one of doers rather than thinkers; philosophers are therefore thin on the ground in the automotive industry, and this is increasingly a problem. As a society we are facing major issues, and the car has often been identified as a large part of the problem. Business as usual is not really going to address this, yet many are incapable of conceiving of a car industry other than the one we have today.