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Automobiles & The Future Of Cities
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Is the Automobile Becoming Outdated?

It would be hard to imagine a world without cars. Many people rely on the automobile for their livelihoods. For some people the car is the only realistic form of transportation. For the last few decades’ cities have been designed to accommodate the automobile.

To its merit, the car has made our world tremendously smaller. Just imagine how our lives would be different if we were still getting around on horse and carriage. With the car – everyday people can cover hundreds of miles in a few moments. All without breaking a single sweat!

The First Cars

Examples of the first cars occurred in Western Europe around the late 19th century by the Peugeot family in France. Then a little later by Karl Benz & Gottlieb Daimler, founders of Mercedes-Benz, in Germany. While not the earliest example, the Ford Model T, is generally regarded as the first automobile that was produced for the masses. Designed and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 1908 to 1927. The Model T transformed our way of life by making this technology affordable for working class folks.

Ford Model T

Photo by Lars-Göran Lindgre

Do Cars Make Sense In The Cities Of The Future?

Fast-forward to the 21st century and the automobile market is vastly different then when the car was first introduced. The automobile, with all its merits, is showing us that technological innovation sometimes come with side effects that people often don’t foresee.

For one, traffic is a universal struggle everyone can relate too. No matter where you come from in the world, at some point or another you have experienced the pain full inefficiency of gridlock traffic. As much space as we surrender to accommodate vehicles – there still isn’t enough space to fit all the cars people drive.

In great cities like New York, Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Singapore. Transportation models designed around the automobile no longer make sense. Cars are polluting these environments and taking away valuable space that could be used to accommodate the growing populations of cities.

future automobiles

Photo by Peter Hershey via Unsplash

City planners around the globe are taking notice. Cities of the future are being redesigned with more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation methods in mind. These new transportation models incorporate a variety of options from bicycles, scooters, electric buses, trains, and even “hyperloops”.

For one example, look no further than Uber. The private taxi hailing company valued at 68 Billion USD, has announced plans to diversify its business model to offer more sustainable transportation options. Uber plans to roll out an electric-bicycle service to Europe. These plans come on the heals of a 100 million USD acquisition of NYC based electric bike startup JUMP Bikes, by Uber Inc.

This isn’t just a trend in business communities. City leaders are also joining the wave. Andhra Pradesh, one of the 29 states of India, is planning to build a whole new capital with greenery and sustainability at the forefront of the design. The city is being been designed to the highest standards of sustainability. The transportation strategy includes water taxis and dedicated cycle routes to encourage cleaner transportation models.

Photo by Foster + Partners

Photo by Foster + Partners

In the US – cities like New York, Washington DC, and Chicago are expressing interest to upgrade their transportation systems with Elon Musk’s promising “hyperloop” technology. For those not familiar, a hyperloop is a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at up to 760 mph.

City of Chicago already approached us about doing a high speed tunnel from O’Hare to downtown. They’ve been great.

In places like Singapore, government polices are trying to do away with cars all together. As part of the city-states plan to transform mobility in the region by 2030, city leaders are putting policies in place that it hopes will encourage public transportation over cars.

“Given Singapore’s land constraint and growing population, the increase in travel demand must be largely meet by the public transportation system.“

Land & Transportation Authority, Singapore

Even cars of electric variety are being discouraged by Singapore. In a series of tweets by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, he mentions how Singapore is “not supportive of electric vehicles”.

Singapore might have a point here. Putting more personal-use cars on the roads, even Tesla’s electric ones, probably isn’t the best solution for inner-city quality of life.

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