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Freedom to roam – the car sellers dream

04 October 2011
Freedom to roam – the car sellers dream

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group.

October 4, 2011. 

After a whole week in Canada,  I have learnt a lot and spent a lot of time thinking about where we are on EVs and mobility generally. For a long time now I have concluded that we are not up against a technology issue with EVs but a social science issue which I now recognise as a feeling of freedom.

We have been sold freedom and within that package is cars and oil.  But that freedom has become an addiction, and as the addiction has taken hold in the form of bigger cars and more consumption of fossil fuel, our addictions have become harder to satisfy as all addictions do over time.

Higher consumption is also a major symptom of our unhappiness - and our future feelings of freedom will be influenced by goals or minimum consumption and an addiction in this respect!  (Note to author that if this is realised, I may have to write another blog just before I die explaining how we get out of this addiction, but I will die a happy man.)

There cannot be many people that do not recognise we are well through a finite supply of oil. With shortage of supply and demand increasing, our freedoms will be further curtailed through tax and legislation just to name two!

So the future addiction is not great to look at and I would argue that the new freedom will be oil independence (or as politicians like to call it ‘energy security’).  This can occur at a personal level, through to corporate and country.  

We now sit in denial because we think exiting our addiction will be impossible, but all can see the writing on the wall. But freedom and the car is starting to wear thin, especially in the urban environment. When we move to cities, our population increases, space becomes tight, congestion takes hold and the cost for our freedom is a high financial price, not to mention unreliable journey times bought on by congestion.

The pioneers for our new freedom will be the ones that spend over the odds on solar PV, heat pumps, super insulated houses, wind turbines, and EVs.  They will form new communities that work together, and a ‘bigger society’ will form to create local grids and a new energy world where the centralised grids have less power and will become managers of a system.  

We probably already know some of the ‘newly free’, but we have not yet realised what is making them so happy. Its freedom that they have which onlookers puzzled at their choices crave for, when sitting in traffic in 4x4s - sold to them by non-progressive car companies - contemplating exponential energy bill rises when they get home.

How free do these people feel when they are no longer addicted?  Well it took this week in Canada for me to realise that is why I like what I have done in my own life.

It makes me happy to watch my wind turbine spinning and energy coming from my solar panels, and it makes me happy to cycle to work getting fit and being independent of traffic in a congested London.

This could sound smug and a little unrealistic for the majority, but it isn’t meant to be. I have just realised how I now need to do more. We can all do something that takes us a little along the road towards ‘newly free’. And I recommend that feeling to all who have read this blog!

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