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UC Davis, ITDP report finds shared mobility essential for realizing full benefits of electrification and automation

A new report from a team at the University of California, Davis, and the New York-based nonprofit Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) has concluded that shared mobility is a critical enabler for realizing the benefits of electrification and autonomous driving.

The report examines three urban travel scenarios surrounding three transportation “revolutions:” vehicle electrification, automation, and widespread shared mobility. The scenarios include: (a) Business as usual (BAU): a future without widespread electrification or automation; (b) “2 Revolutions (2R):” electrification and automation are embraced but shared mobility is not; and (c) “3 Revolutions (3R):” electrification, automation and shared mobility are all widespread.

Our central finding is that while vehicle electrification and automation may produce potentially important benefits, without a corresponding shift toward shared mobility and greater use of transit and active transport, these two revolutions could significantly increase congestion and urban sprawl, while also increasing the likelihood of missing climate change targets.

In contrast, by encouraging a large increase in trip sharing, transit use, and active transport through policies that support compact, mixed use development, cities worldwide could save an estimated $5 trillion annually by 2050 while improving livability and increasing the likelihood of meeting climate change targets.

—Fulton et al.

The new report builds on two earlier reports published by ITDP and UC Davis’s STEPS (Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways) program: “A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario” (2015) and “A Global High Shift Scenario: Impacts and Potential for More Public Transport, Walking and Cycling with Lower Car Use” (2014). Both reports took a scenario approach to consider the role of different travel modes in providing mobility, and the amount of potential energy savings and CO2 reduction that could come from a less car-centric world in the future.

(STEPS is a multidisciplinary research consortium, part of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.)

RethinkX offers aggressive forecast for shared, autonomous, electric transportation
A new report by research group RethinkX projects that within 10 years of regulatory approval of driverless vehicles 95% of U.S. passenger miles traveled will be served by on-demand Autonomous Electric Vehicles (A-EVs) owned by companies providing Transport as a Service (TaaS).
Further, RethinkX suggests, A-EVs engaged in TaaS will make up 60 percent of US vehicle stock. As fewer cars travel more miles, the number of passenger vehicles on American roads will drop from 247 million in 2020 to 44 million in 2030.
The report, Rethinking Transportation, sees the radical transition as driven by economics: using TaaS will be four to 10 times cheaper per mile than buying a new car, and two to four times cheaper than operating an existing paid-off vehicle, by 2021.
The research group forecasts that the cost of TaaS will be driven down by several factors, including utilization rates that are 10 times higher; electric vehicle lifetimes exceeding 500,000 miles; and far lower maintenance, energy, finance and insurance costs.
The average American household will save $5,600 per year by giving up its gas-powered car and traveling by autonomous, electric TaaS vehicles, the report says.
Mainstream analyses fail to account for the impacts of technology convergence, and a new business model born in response. This results in far greater cost differential between individual ownership and Transportation as a Service, leading to far faster and more extensive adoption as people choose cheaper, better transportation provided as a service.
—James Arbib, technology investor, philanthropist and co-author

The new report considers the role of electrification, automation, and ride sharing (more people per vehicle). The study is global, breaking the world into eight regions including five major markets: United States, Europe, China, India, and Brazil.

Key findings included:

  • The 2R scenario may provide significant energy and CO2 savings, but mostly after 2030, and only with large-scale decarbonization of electricity production. In the 2R scenario, vehicle travel rises higher than in the BAU, but vehicle-related emissions and energy use are eventually cut significantly, with specific CO2 reductions dependent on the extent to which electricity production decarbonizes around the world. If the world’s electricity production is not completely decarbonized by 2050, this scenario may produce more CO2 emissions in 2050 than is consistent with targets to limit global temperature rise to 2°C (or less) compared to preindustrial levels.

  • An autonomous vehicle (AV) world without electrification (i.e. using ICEs) and without trip sharing would not cut CO2 emissions out to 2050. The researches estimated that the lower travel time “costs” provided by self-driving vehicles would likely lead to a significant increase in vehicle travel—15-20% compared to the BAU (with a wide range of uncertainty). The increased efficiency of AVs would offset some or all of this travel to keep energy and CO2 close to BAU levels. The increased travel of AVs could trigger more traffic congestion, although their improved road-space efficiencies and coordinated travel patterns might mitigate some of these impacts.

  • The 3R scenario performs significantly better on energy and CO2 , as well as on livability. This scenario has the potential to deliver an efficient, low-traffic, low-energy, and low-CO2 urban transport system around the world. In this scenario, the widespread adoption of on-demand travel with substantial ride sharing, along with greater use of (high-quality) public transport, cycling, and walking reduces car travel by well over half in 2050, and the number of cars by nearly three-quarters compared to the BAU.

  • Ride sharing must deliver high-occupancy-vehicle travel, both in light-duty taxi-style vehicles and in some larger vehicles such as minivans and small buses. Ride hailing services do not help bring about this scenario if they are dominated by single-occupant trips. Assumed load factors (average passengers per trip) in ride-hailed vehicles rises over time in the 3R scenario and is about 30-40% higher than in the 2R or BAU scenarios by 2050.

  • The 3R scenario also delivers large cost savings.

  • The 3R scenario achieves its energy, CO2 and cost savings by creating a far more efficient transportation system than in the BAU or 2R scenarios.

  • The 3R scenario would also significantly reduce the number of vehicles on the world’s roads by 2050. The current global urban stock of LDVs, around 750 million (out of 1.1 billion total, urban + non-urban), reaches 2.1 billion by 2050 in the BAU and 2R scenarios. In the 3R scenario it drops to about 500 million.

The authors noted that the 3R scenario will require strong additional support for ride sharing, public and active transport, and land-use planning that helps to shorten most vehicle trips. Further, in 3R, governments play a central role.




So, the 2R future does little for cost, traffic congestion and CO2 reduction. Only when we utilize bike and walking paths to decrease need of transportation do we improve both cost and environment. Those two with utilizing "public" transportation or multiple ridership transport. I've held firm on the battery car does little per GW gases for our near term future. Only by projecting decades out with assumptions of green power does the vehicle do any good. Those assumptions are not a given.

I don't disagree with this study projections. I do think there is currently a natural progression to Uber transport and multiple ridership. Same with popularity of cleverly designed bike and walk paths. People like these developments. Also, online shopping will greatly improve energy cost of this activity. Also, decentralized education and work will lower transportation needs.

I do think biofuel and hydrogen will overtake the grid for lower GW rating for most areas of world. Our societal desires or needs of transport may flex to balance highway use. Apps may be able to do this. Commercial transport may travel at night. Industry and commerce may be able to flex working hours automatically for employee needs. Overall transportation needs will continually increase per leisure and tourism increase. Hopefully, the hospitality industry can accommodate easy logistics and lower concerns of small car or mass transit.


It is fairly obvious that autonomy and electrification won't solve congestion as electric / autonomous cars are the same size as ICE vehicles that currently cause congestion.

You need to use high occupancy vehicles (buses, trains / shared taxis) or dramatically smaller vehicles (2 wheelers). Neither of which require either electrification or autonomy.

You need changes in the law to allow ridesharing, and to allow the car owner to charge for letting other people use their cars. You will need changes in insurance laws to cover this. Perhaps, ride sharing users could be expected to have their own insurance so it pays out if they are involve in a crash.

Then, you need some kind of app to coordinate the ride sharing (like Uber).

You would have a "ride matching" app where you type in your source and destination positions and times, and your "commuting style" (silent, chatty, book reading, phone reading) and it would match you to a person / persons / public transport.


The idea of the 12 passenger Model X may be on the right track. Instead of 40 foot 40,000 pound buses that hold 40 passengers we have a 12 passenger vehicle that weighs less and more of them.


One caveat. Don't think for a minute that crony capitalism isn't at work attempting to head off any cost effective development that will make it harder for business as usual folks to pick your pockets. Examples, public transportation union work force, commercial cabs like within NYC, and international corporations that want to tie up patents, close competition, remove small business, remove part time business or family owned.

The developing technology could make transportation less expensive, more convenient, and locally owned small business development. Many will fight any attempt to decentralize and forgo their protected niche to manage the marketplace per political payoff. They haven't figured out how to manipulate the consuming public to this corner, but rest assured you will hear horror stories of rapes from Uber cab, safety risk, and angry fares. Political power will not benefit from small business, but from controlling the public with corporations.


That is NYC's problem, that may not be the case in L.A. nor elsewhere in this country or the world.

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