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 7: Conclusions

Peter E. Wells


TIME TO CHANGE The first decade of the twenty-first century has been a pivotal moment in world history, with a unique combination of economic and environmental crises. While the immediate policy response has been to seek a return to ‘normality’, the conclusion here argues that this moment represents an immense opportunity to change the trajectory of one of the most important industries in the world. This is a business opportunity, and also one for government policy. Given the scale of the problems our societies face as we push up against resource and environment limits, the need for drastic change is overwhelming. It is hard to be entirely optimistic about the capacity for change but this book has sought to demonstrate that there is certainly a latent ability to change. Sustainability is an inherently temporal concept, for it contains within itself a notion that an action or activity is (un)sustainable over a period of time (Held, 2001). Thus an activity may be viable for a short period of time but cannot be carried on indefinitely. Put another way, sustainability entails accommodating temporal heterogeneity (Jordan and Fortin, 2002). The ‘gap’ between these two fixed points is, however, variable according to the activity under consideration. Typically this has been the starting point for most analysis, where the question really is: ‘how long can we keep up this unsustainable activity before its lack of viability becomes manifest?’ While much effort has gone into understanding the three main dimensions of sustainability (economic, social,...

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