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 4: Emergent Diversity in the Global Automotive Industry: The Policy Agenda

Peter E. Wells


INTRODUCTION 4.1 This chapter will look at localities and their differences in terms of the recent history of emergent diversity of the automotive industry. Chapter 6 will consider the future prospects for change, including in policy terms. The essence of the discussion is to argue that not all places are equal: they have different problems with respect to automobility, different cultures of automobility and differing degrees of scope in terms of fostering alternatives. Hence at a simple level sugarcane ethanol is possible in Brazil but not in Finland, where cellulose-derived fuels may make more sense. The chapter will show that there are myriad examples of local initiatives with respect to novel automotive technologies, usually involving state intervention, and that these initiatives intersect with other aspects of state intervention such as cluster policy, low-carbon programmes, local economic development initiatives, strategic energy independence, and so forth. It is often thought that localities are in this sense in competition with each other (Bristow, 2005), but in fact this need not be so. Indeed the more that independent, self-reliant development is able to prosper, the less are locations in competition with each other. More recent analyses appear to support this stance with, for example, an emphasis placed on the recursive quality of the relationship between local economy development and skilled labour migration suggesting that individual places develop unique dynamics (Storper and Scott, 2009). At the basic level the argument is that sustainability requires sensitivity to local context. Hence the ‘one size fits all’ approach...

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