Cars: a century of stagnation

evolution of cars [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

A car can get how much per litre?!

Where other industries have seen improvements in price and efficiency, the auto industry has been a dismal failure. Students routinely build vehicles for competitions that obliterate existing fuel economy standards. The world’s most fuel efficient vehicle uses a hydrogen fuel cell and gets the equivalent of 5385 km/L. Who made it? Students![6] That’s 900 times more fuel efficient than a Cadillac Escalade!

What would you do with two extra hours a day?

  • Average income = $46,000[7]
  • Annual cost of typical vehicle = $11,000
    (lease payments, insurance, gas, repairs, parking, etc)[8]
  • $46,000/$11,000 = 1/4

This means that about a quarter of your working life is spent paying for your car. If you work 9 to 5, the first two hours you spend sitting at your desk are used to pay for your trip to the office. Imagine if you didn’t have this expense? What would you do with the gift of two extra hours a day for the rest of your life?

Mobility: where should we allocate resources?

Personal Vs. Public Mobility

We move just 1.2 people per car on Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area roads during rush hour.[9] Why have 50 engines burning gasoline when we only need one bus? Why not get to work faster, cheaper, and save the planet all at the same time?”

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” — Gustavo Petro Urrego, Mayor of Bogota, Colombia

NEXT: Just Like Cigarettes…

Go Back: Explore the Issues…


  1. Model T Facts.Ford Motor Company.
  2. Phil Arendt. “1950 Olds Gives M.p.g. Surprise.Chicago Tribune. March 10, 1991.
  3. Fuel Economy of 2013 Cadillac Escalade.US Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy/US Environmental Protection Agency.
  4. PAC-Car II Gets 12,000 Miles Per Gallon.Yahoo! Voice. July 2, 2010.
  5. Shell Eco-Marathon On-track Awards.Shell Global. April, 2012.
  6. PAC-Car II Gets 12,000 Miles Per Gallon.Yahoo! Voice. July 2, 2010.
  7. Peter Harris. “How much money are we earning? The average Canadian wages right now.Workopolis. 6 February 2012.
  8. Jeremy Cato. “The Real Cost of Car Ownership.The Globe and Mail. 2 September 2010.
  9. The Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.Metrolink. November 2008.

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