Sustainable Automobility
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Sustainable Automobility

Understanding the Car as a Natural System

Paul Nieuwenhuis

If we are part of nature, then so is everything we make. This unique book explores this notion using the example of the car, how it is made and used and especially how we relate to it, with a view to creating a more sustainable automobility.
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Chapter 4: The history of the car and the history of car production

Paul Nieuwenhuis


There is the old adage that those who ignore history are doomed to relive it; there is also the dictum attributed to Einstein that we will not solve our problems using the same mindset that created them in the first place. For these reasons it is always a good idea to look at history. It may explain not only how we got into this mess, but also how we might get out of it. The car system was created within a particular set of circumstances, some of which no longer exist - time for a rethink. I have always been interested in history, not just automotive history. But trying to understand the origins of today's car system took me not only to many car museums, but also, specifically, to the Benson Ford Library in Dearborn, Michigan; Detroit Public Library in Detroit, Michigan; and the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware, where much of what remains of the Budd archives are held - the significance of this will emerge in due course. I would like to thank the various people who helped me dig out relevant material in all these places. Much of this fieldwork was carried out with my colleague, Peter Wells, and our conversations helped shape much of the thinking here. I also enjoyed some help from the late Ralph Dunwoodie, who was the archivist of the Harrah car collection. Harrah, based in Reno, Nevada, set up a number of casinos, which made him a lot of money.

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