Bill Ford Says 'Shoving More Vehicles' Into Cities Won't Improve Lives

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1st Gear: Pretty Smart Stuff, Actually

Bill Ford may look like the aging QB coach of a struggling Division-III football program, but he's actually Ford's Executive Chairman and has an insight well out of proportion to that description. The ITS World Congress is going on and his comments about energy policy, technology, and urbanism are fairly on point.


Alisa Priddle nicely summarizes it:

“If we sell millions of vehicles, where do we put them and where do we drive them and how do they interact?” he asked. “You cannot shove two vehicles in every garage in Mumbai. Any business only exists to make peoples’ lives better. At a certain point, shoving more vehicles into urban environments doesn’t do that.”

Car-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, and better public transportation and bicycle-friendly cities can help, said Ford, who has cultivated a reputation for environmental stewardship that might appear unusual for an auto executive.

He insisted that exploring alternatives to single-occupant automobiles is not against the industry’s interests.

He goes on to say that cars should be able to communicate with all other cars, not just Ford-to-Ford or Chevy-Chevy, and that despite all the movement towards autonomous cars not everyone wants that yet.

Here's the best quote:

“People in daily commutes love their carsand hate everyone else’s,” but he warned that gridlock will only get worse because the money is not there to fix the infrastructure.



2nd Gear: Verizon CEO Says Transportation Revolution On Our Doorstep


Verizon's chief Lowell McAdam was also at the ITS and he was a little less harsh than Bill Ford, at least from this write up from The Detroit News:

“The transportation revolution is right on the doorstep,” Lowell McAdam told the club. Detroit is hosting about 10,000 automotive, technology and safety leaders who are looking at the future of self-driving cars at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress

The comments from McAdam came the day after the announcement that Michigan will install cameras and sensors along 120 miles of Detroit freeways to connect cars wirelessly to highways and each other. While the notion that self-driving cars — or at least cars that automatically slow down or stop for hazards or can be rerouted to avoid traffic jams — seems like something from the far-off future, it is an approaching reality, McAdam said.

“If we decided to do it, we’re no more than three to five years away from autonomous vehicles,” McAdam to the Economic Club, during a session moderated by WDIV-TV anchor Devin Scillian.


That's a big "IF" though.

3rd Gear: I Picked A Bad Day To Stop Sniffing Airplane Glue


Welding is great, but you're not always going to get lightweight metals and cars put together that way. What's the alternative? Glue. A lotta glue.

Per the WSJ:

The global market for structural adhesives used in cars, airplanes and other vehicles should hit $2 billion this year, up from $1.5 billion a decade ago, estimates IHS senior consultant Eric Linak. He said the market is growing at between 4% and 5% a year, up from between 2% and 3% a few years ago.

"Bonding [with adhesives] is the new welding," said Steve Henderson, president of Dow's automotive unit, whose father worked as a welder at General Motors Co.

Basic metallurgy is on their side: Aluminum doesn't readily weld to steel but can be glued. So is chemistry: Carbon fiber and other composite materials lend themselves more to glues than screws.


4th Gear: 40% Of Plug-Ins Are Sold In California


If it's gotta plug, there's a decent chance it's being sold in California as about 40% of the domestic market is there according to the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative via Bloomberg.


That's a lot of Teslas, but also Vols, Leafs, and plug-in Ford vehicles. The governor would like to see 1.5 million such ars on the road in the next decade or so.

5th Gear: Perry Says Taxes And Regulations Make Texas Attractive


Rick Perry, Texas Governor and living proof that you can't just put glasses on to make yourself look smarter, was in Tokyo talking taxes and sounds like Craig Trudell has the story:

Perry, 64, touted the move by Toyota in a speech to The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan today while also ruing Tesla Motors Inc.’s decision to build a battery factory in Nevada. Perry said he called Governor Brian Sandoval to congratulate him even though Texas lost out on the plant.

“It is a reflection of how money moves — money moves because of tax policy and regulatory policy,” Perry said in Tokyo. In response to a question about the so-called inversion deals criticized by Obama, he said the taxes on companies need to be lowered.

“You lower that tax burden, and the billions of dollars that are sitting on the sidelines get invested in building facilities and creating jobs,” he said.


And by "lower" the tax burden he really means transfer it to other people.

Reverse: Unsafe At Only Some Speeds

On September 9, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signs the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act into law. Immediately afterward, he signed the Highway Safety Act. The two bills made the federal government responsible for setting and enforcing safety standards for cars and roads. Unsafe highways, Johnson argued, were a menace to public health: "In this century," Johnson said before he signed the bills, "more than 1,500,000 of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and highways; nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all our wars." It was a genuine crisis, and one that the automakers had proven themselves unwilling or unable to resolve. "Safety is no luxury item," the President declared, "no optional extra; it must be a normal cost of doing business."




Neutral: Can We Drive Our Way Out Of Our Problems? Or is Bill Ford right? Do we need multiple transit solutions? What should those be?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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