Cars need to be shrunk ‘drastically’

Researchers from Oxford University have called for a 'drastic downscaling of both size and weight' of petrol and diesel cars.

Work carried out by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment suggests we should ‘not rely on manufacturers producing hydrogen or battery-powered vehicles in the next decade’.

The report ‘Future of Mobility Roadmap’ assesses the potential for low carbon transport on land, by air and sea.

It finds electric and hydrogen vehicles are likely to remain ‘niche products’ for many years because of limited battery life and the high cost of platinum, which is needed for the catalysts in hydrogen fuelled cars.

The study editor Sir David King and lead author Dr Oliver Inderwildi urge the government to impose higher taxes on drivers of large, inefficient vehicles and reinvest the money in better public transport and measures to get more people cycling and walking.

Dr Inderwildi said: “There is ample opportunity for emissions reductions by further improvements of currently available technology combined with a change in user habits.

“Rather than rely on the manufacturers to provide the ‘silver bullet’ solution to cut transport emissions, the report recommends behavioural change, urging consumers to influence manufacturers through their buying power.

“Manufacturers are more likely to produce smaller vehicles if customers opt not to buy larger, heavier vehicles with higher carbon emissions.

“Better technology could significantly cut emissions from aircraft and shipping but incentives and regulation will be needed to encourage users to switch to low-carbon forms of transport, says the report.”

The research also highlights algae-based biofuels as a means of ‘significantly cutting’ transport emissions in the future and points out the limitations of biofuels as an alternative because of land shortages and food security concerns.

Luke Walsh

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