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Bill Ford Jr.  (Source:
Ford said as the population increases, auto sales will increase, but congested highways will prevent us from traveling/commuting

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) conference today, Bill Ford Jr. addressed his concern regarding future auto congestion in urban areas, which he says could eventually threaten our freedom to commute.

Bill Ford Jr. is the great-grandson of Henry Ford, who founded Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903. Before the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908, many people did not travel more than 25 miles from home. However, having an automobile made further travels possible -- it gave them freedom.

But Bill Ford Jr. said this freedom could be at risk due to increased population, which means increased auto sales and congested highways that could one day limit the number of automobiles that can be sold or used on the roads at a given time.

"What I'm really worried about is the role of the car in the long-term," said Ford. "If we do nothing, it will limit the number of vehicles we can sell. If we can solve this problem of urban mobility, I think there's a great business opportunity for us."

According to LMC Automotive, a consulting firm in Michigan, there are currently 1.2 billion vehicles on the roads globally.

While issues like the environmental impact of vehicles have already been addressed via efforts like the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) proposal that intends to boost fleet wide fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025, Ford is moving on to other issues that are not so close to being addressed. His issue of choice is what to do about future traffic jams once the population increases, and urges the mobile technology industry to take action in developing solutions.

Ford already has a few solutions in mind, and they're all communications-based answers. Some are currently being developed, and some are not. For instance, Ford sees cars having radar-based cruise control and blind-spot monitoring systems in five years that allow vehicles to communicate with one another. These systems are currently being developed, where vehicles can "talk" to each other, offering information like the speed of another vehicle nearby. This could potentially avoid fatal crashes. Toyota is just one automaker that discussed the introduction of smart road technology back in 2010. Others like Ford and General Motors have worked to offer better and smarter safety systems as well, but they're mostly crash-based instead of traffic congestion-based.

Ford envisions a future beyond 2025 where cars will drive themselves as close together as possible to use the maximum amount of space on a highway. Vehicles will also do the same in parking lots to make more room for others. In addition, he imagines automakers building smaller cars that can offer additional space for other drivers.

"Even if the technology is there, there's still going to have to be tremendous thought by urban planners," said Ford. "That [driving] freedom has been threatened unless we redefine what personal mobility can be in a congested urbanized world."

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: Urban mobility...
By Motoman on 2/27/2012 12:51:22 PM , Rating: 1
Point taken and sentiment shared.

However, the fact of the matter is that urbanites actually have a much lower "footprint" than rural dwellers do. Like it or not...large, densely populated cities is the only way we're going to have any chance at supporting our burgeoning global population.

Personally I have spent lots of time in every major city in the US, and a few in Canada, for work over the past ~15 years. No way in hell you'd ever get me to live like a sardine in a tiny apartment, with no room to actually own anything, and nothing to do except go out and get drunk at a bar every night.

But...obviously lots of people think that's what life is all about. So more power to 'em.

RE: Urban mobility...
By tayb on 2/27/2012 1:01:39 PM , Rating: 2
You know that they build apartments that are large right? You could buy an apartment in downtown NYC that is several thousand square feet. But you'll pay for it.

RE: Urban mobility...
By FITCamaro on 2/27/2012 1:16:57 PM , Rating: 1
Well when you want to give all of us several million dollars, we'll care about that option.

RE: Urban mobility...
By JediJeb on 2/27/2012 1:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
But can you get those for less than the $42K I paid for my 800sqft cabin on 3 acres?

RE: Urban mobility...
By Motoman on 2/27/2012 7:27:09 PM , Rating: 1
Define "large."

The wife and I share a 3,300sf house on 50 acres of land, close to half of which is our own private forest. Our place also features a WWII-era barn of about 2,000sf, a cute old "milk house" which is something silly like 150sf, another building that we've converted to a "clubhouse" that's about 2,000sf, and a modern horse barn with attached arena that's probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000sf.

I can keep the dozen or so motorcycles I have at any given time there with no problem, along with our 6 horses and boarding many more. We can park my truck, the wife's SUV, our horse trailer and my race trailer anywhere we want.

Our monthly payments are $3,100. So what could I get in NYC that would be comparable to that for $3,100 a month? A 1,200sf apartment and no parking space?


RE: Urban mobility...
By Spuke on 2/28/2012 4:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't even think you could get 1200sf for that price in NYC. BTW, nice setup. We have 2.5 acres, a couple of horses, 2100sf house, probably 800sf 3 stall shedrow barn, an arena and round pen. Our monthly payments are $2400. We sold a horse a couple of years ago to a couple from Calabasas. They were amazed at the cost of housing in our area. They said our home would easily be worth $8 million in their area (and Calabasas is still relatively rural but only 20 mins or so from LA) as opposed to 1.5 hours (or more..traffic) for us. Even if we got the same setup just 30 mins down the road almost doubles the price.

No thanks.

RE: Urban mobility...
By Solandri on 2/27/2012 1:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
However, the fact of the matter is that urbanites actually have a much lower "footprint" than rural dwellers do. Like it or not...large, densely populated cities is the only way we're going to have any chance at supporting our burgeoning global population.

That isn't really a problem. The vast majority of the world's population growth is in undeveloped countries. Most developed nations are very close to zero population growth. Some are even in population decline (e.g. Japan). The U.S. is about the fastest growing developed nation (something like an average 2.3 kids per family), but even that is a very sedate rate of population growth.

The population growth you're seeing in developed countries is mostly immigration, and a population shift from rural areas to urban areas (makes the population of prominent cities increase faster than the country overall).

RE: Urban mobility...
By JediJeb on 2/27/2012 2:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
burgeoning global population.

I did the calculations a while back to counter some crazy post about population growth and found that even if we grow our population to something like 112 Billion people on Earth we could still fit them all on a land mass the size of Greenland.

The total surface area of the Earth is 1.603e+15 sqft which is 1.6 quadrillion sqft. Even at a population of 100 billion people that still leaves everyone with 16,000 sqft of living space. Greenland has an area of 23,315,542,272,000 sgft(1.47% of the Earth's landmass) which would leave 100 billion people 233sqft each. To put it in another perspective if you covered the entire area of Greenland with 3,300 sqft houses the entire worlds population could have one of those houses each and still have room left over.

In other words, we are not going to run out of room for our population any time soon. And if worse comes to worst and we do hit over 100 billion(which would take a few thousand years at current population growth) we could put all of them comfortably on Australia while using the rest of the globe for producing food. Plenty of room and cropland to support them all. Power and such might be a little more of a problem, but in a few thousand years hopefully we will have that worked out too.

RE: Urban mobility...
By Paj on 2/28/2012 8:01:01 AM , Rating: 2
One small problem - the whole world's terrain isnt flat.

One more thing I just thought of: not all the world's land is arable.

Yet another thing: most of Australia is desert, and is close to supporting all the people it can currently.

Few more things: fresh water? resources? transport? infrastructure? geology? temperatures?

RE: Urban mobility...
By bigdawg1988 on 2/28/2012 2:25:49 PM , Rating: 2
Plus Australia is full of deadly creatures that want to kill you to death!!
Would solve the population problem though....

RE: Urban mobility...
By Spuke on 2/28/2012 4:54:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yet another thing: most of Australia is desert, and is close to supporting all the people it can currently.
There's already few million people living in the desert just in SoCal. With the theoretical 100 billion people in Australia, money for infrastructure, transport or anything else would be a non-issue.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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