Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I wrote a few days ago about a trip I took to the town of Cambridge, north of London, home of the esteemed University of Cambridge. I experienced small town gridlock traffic coming from parents dropping their children off at school, or commuting to the town center to their jobs. There was a great deal of bicycle usage and walking, but still there were a lot of cars, and few busses or taxis.
I think that high oil prices are going to have a larger effect on Europeans then I realized. It won't be as dramatic an effect as in America where it is typical to drive five minutes alone in your vehicle and whole cities are built without sidewalks, but their will be an effect. Now that Peak Oil is undoubtedly here the entire world is going to undergo a fantastic transformation that will probably make life harder for the vast majority of earth's inhabitants.
I think the future of the car is going to be one of a borderline luxury. What I mean by this is that very short travel, such as less than two miles will always be by bicycle or walking, at least in Europe. A car will be for commutes only, and occasionally for trips. Long trips will be the domain of trains and airplanes, but more and more trains since those run on electricity and will be less affected by higher gasoline prices.
I think also that many people will see the car as a weekend fun toy, as many Americans view the motorcycle now. Because of that I think we will see a lot of people in the western hemisphere purchasing sports cars that they will use solely on the weekends, and then perhaps a small people mover for everyday usage, or rely on walking during the week, and use the sports car for fun on the weekends.
I looked on various Japanese importer websites today at used Mazda 3rd generation RX-7s for the UK and many were selling for under 9k sterling. To run such a car everyday would be outrageously expensive, especially since a rotary engine is not fuel efficient in the slightest, but to have one for the weekends when roads are clear is a great idea.
You have to ask yourself, do I want a low quality lifestyle with abundant resources, or a high quality lifestyle with less resources. Do I want a lot of average things, or do I want a few good things? The future of human consumption is the latter whether you like it or not. How humanity will react to that is the issue.