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Transport and Environment

In Search of Sustainable Solutions

Edited by Eran Feitelson and Erik Verhoef

The impact of transport on the environment is a major issue of worldwide concern. This important new book presents state-of-the-art contributions on spatial and technological aspects of transport in relation to environmental degradation, together with analysis of sustainable transport policy.
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Chapter 6: Electric vehicles: a socio-technical scenario study

René Kemp and Benoît Simon


René Kemp and Benoît Simon* INTRODUCTION Many car manufacturers today are doing research on electric vehicles. Some car industry commentators, like Sperling (1995), believe that the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) is inevitable – because of the insufficient environmental stretch of other types of vehicles and ultimate depletion of the gasoline feedstock. Other people believe that EVs will have no future, arguing that EVs are a ‘turn off’ (Financial Times, 12 June 1997) – because of intrinsic disadvantages (notably the short range and high purchase price) relative to internal combustion vehicles. This chapter will examine the future for EVs in a more structured way, using a method which combines insights from technology dynamics studies (especially evolutionary theories of socio-technical change) with scenario analysis. The method – called the co-evolutionary socio-technical (CEST) scenario method – differs from other prospective methods such as trend extrapolation (curve fitting exercises), Delphi studies and traditional scenario studies, by focusing on the interplay (co-evolution) of technological possibilities, supplyside policies, government policies and market demand – how such an interplay gives rise to particular passenger transport development patterns. A key element of the co-evolutionary socio-technical scenarios is the focus on the interaction between technologies and society. In the scenarios we describe how transport technologies, manufacturing strategies, government policies and travel practices co-evolve and change through a process of interaction in multiple marketplaces, social communities and policy arenas. Actor strategies, including government policies, are not exogenous but endogenous to the process by building on previous experiences with transport technologies, policies and investments....

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