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 6: Enablers and Limiters of Change

Peter E. Wells


INTRODUCTION Here the main thrust of the discussion is to ask what makes change happen (or as importantly, not happen). This chapter will provide a critique of attempts to rescue the automotive industry during the period from 2008 when the global financial crisis started to make a measurable impact on markets and the industry. In particular measures such as scrapping incentive schemes are criticized on various criteria, but the chapter also highlights the inadequacy of many ‘technology roadmap’ policies that concentrated just on innovative technologies and neglected the business model requirement or local socio-environmental need. This chapter is important because it provides a balance and a more considered view of the prospects for future change. It therefore seeks to ensure against the tendency to exaggerate the scope and pace of change, and the often linear conceptualization of progressive environmentalists that the overall direction of change is to become simply more sustainable. This chapter will take a ‘scenario approach’ with three alternatives presented: creative destruction, managed transition and mutual co-existence. Under creative destruction it is assumed that the collapse of the existing automotive industry and its attendant cultures of automobility will allow the emergence of radically different alternatives. Under managed transition it is assumed that the mainstream practice of reconciling existing (economic) interests with the phased introduction of eco-efficiency and alternative technologies can be achieved. This is the world of the technology roadmap and social partners (Petrick and Echols, 2003), of rationalism and the triumph of science. Under mutual co-existence it...

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