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Mike Bennett

Hey Joe. Interesting thoughts. Looking at this, I thought maybe it's the basic assumptions before design starts that need very careful evaluation. As you say, society is currently unsettled and seems to be getting more unsettled. The car is fundamental to many peoples' lives and a great source of enjoyment but is also fundamental to many environmental issues.

One current basic assumption is that mining the raw materials, making the car and junking it is a sensible way to carry on. It was fine in the 50s and 60s, but the planet has moved on. In the West, we are living at the rate which would require 5 planets if the whole population of the world lived like us. It's not going to work long term! So is the redesign of the car factory the first step!

Currently we assume that more is better. More features, bigger, faster. The planet would like smaller, simpler, not so fast. Saint Exupery said "A thing is perfect when nothing further can be taken away from it."

A fundamental for car design could be a lifetime evaluation. How much earth resource is needed over what period to do how many miles. Can a car be part of a one planet lifestyle? Given that cars may use 50% of their lifetime resources just being built, their working life could usefully be longer - but that greatly reduces auto-industry profits. But it's much cheaper to drive long term. Hmm..

I did a blog post on this at http://businessfutures.org/2009/12/04/sustainable-ferrari/ - how can I still have a 300kph Ferrari and still live well on this fine planet.

A solution to all this seems unlikely to come from a big manufacturer - but if I ran one, I'd set up a skunk-works project to evaluate the design assumptions and bring something radical to market.

Chad Phillips

I deeply agree with what you are saying...I wish more people had this kind of epiphany everyday!

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