Friday, December 5, 2008

The writing's on the wall

Pity the poor auto industry and shed a tear for GM and Chrysler. December sales drops rivaled and exceeded those you have seen in your IRA. Even Honda was off 30% and they are already building the cars that GM envisions itself building when it gets healthy. The sad truth is that any investment in the auto industry is going to perpetuate everything that needs to change in the old economy. We no longer live in a world where increasing the amount of cheap fossil fueled mobility is a measure of wealth. And hybrid cars aren't the answer either. Ask any of the many Toyota dealers sitting on large inventories of Priuses.

What is needed is nothing less than a design revolution that reaches into every phase of our lives from the design of cars and housing to the design of cities. The new economy will be based on increasingly intelligent, shared transportation to destinations that are increasingly local and convenient. Perversely, our progress toward a low energy consumption future will sometimes result in lower prices for fossil fuel. This will tend to undermine the public will necessary to invest in the technologies and designs needed for the future. Failing to make that investment or being lulled back by the siren song of cheap energy will only increase the shock of the inevitable transition.

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