The Automotive Industry in an Era of Eco-Austerity
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The Automotive Industry in an Era of Eco-Austerity

Creating an Industry as if the Planet Mattered

Peter E. Wells

This unique book seeks to combine economic analysis with the environmental research to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape change in the automotive industry. It eschews the usual focus on technologies, and gives more attention to the impact of change on the business models and strategies adopted by the vehicle manufacturers, the scope for new entrants, and the implications for policy-makers. This richly textured book concludes that the achievement of a sustainable automotive industry will not be possible with ‘one best way’, but that myriad technologies and business concepts, grounded in the distinct needs of different places and consumers, will be the basis of the future of mobility.
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Chapter 2: Diversity and the Industrial Ecology Metaphor

Peter E. Wells


THE THEME OF DIVERSITY In this chapter the argument is advanced that one aspect of industrial ecology that has not been given sufficient attention is the theme of diversity. Briefly it is argued that natural systems gain resilience and resistance from species diversity and the adaptation of species to the specific requirements of local environments. At a global level distinct ecosystems and sub-systems have emerged. In contrast, monocultures are often inherently unstable, and in agricultural terms at least are ‘imposed’ on the physical environment through the application of power, energy and technology. If this metaphor is applied to the economic realm, then it is argued that there are strong policy motivations to encourage technological and business structure diversity alongside a better ‘fit’ to the particularities of locality. Diversity has been used in the economic and regional literature before of course, and subject to critiques (Wagner, 2002). Often, however, these critiques are couched in traditional terms with respect to whether diversity is good or bad for economic growth, particularly for regions. There are strong theoretical and empirical grounds for the view that diversity within a region has economic benefits, but paradoxically so has diversity between regions (Dissart, 2003). Here the concept is advanced for somewhat different advantages more to do with complexity, resilience and stability rather than growth, and to extend beyond a narrowly economic interpretation of the value of diversity. These themes are also picked up later, for example in Chapter 4. Diversity here means an enrichment of social and...

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