A New Era of Decline for the American Car Fleet?

from Earth Policy Institute Report

For the last week, a number of blogs (Green Inc. and Inhabitat each feature notable pieces) have been covering a new report published by the Earth Policy Institute which found that the auto fleet in the U.S. shrank by 2 percent in 2009.  While more than 10 million new vehicles were shed, 14 million were scrapped.  Some of the more interesting bits of the report (pasted below) concern predictions for the future of the American car fleet.  They draw parallels to Japan’s peak in car use in the 1990’s and foresee a continued decline in the U.S. from here on out:

Japan may offer some clues to the U.S. future. Both more densely populated and highly urbanized than the United States, Japan apparently reached car saturation in 1990. Since then its annual car sales have shrunk by 21 percent. The United States appears set to follow suit. (See data.)

The car promised mobility, and in a largely rural United States it delivered. But with four out of five Americans now living in cities, the growth in urban car numbers at some point provides just the opposite: immobility. The Texas Transportation Institute reports that U.S. congestion costs, including fuel wasted and time lost, climbed from $17 billion in 1982 to $87 billion in 2007.

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