Advertisement

"A solution to overcrowded cities? The Urban Car"

Mike Rutherford's taken responsibility for the World Urban Car award at WCotY 2017, which aims to solve the issues of overcrowded city roads

Unless global auto makers concentrate harder on creating cars more appropriate for the increasingly limited road space beneath them, we'll soon sleepwalk into gridlock.

The world's highway 'network' struggles to accomodate the roughly 1.2 billion motors currently driven or parked on/around it. And it's a given that come 2035, when forecasts say the population will hit around 8.3 billion and car numbers 2.0 billion, the required near-doubling of lanes for motorists will not be forthcoming.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Best city cars

That volatile cocktail of more citizens, ongoing upsurges in consumer demand, plus comparatively few new roads could be hellish. And there's another problem: country areas are out, towns and cities are very much in as far as the current (7.4 billion) population is concerned. The balance has tipped, with the majority of folk now living in urban rather than rural areas. In Britain, the ratio is 83:17. And by 2035 it'll be nearer 90:10.

Worldwide, around 4 billion people are now squeezing themselves in, not spreading themselves out. Escaping to (or even staying within) the countryside is losing its allure.

Traffic jam

So let's accept that the global trend is for more town and city living, which inevitably causes much-reduced road space per driver in those non-rural areas.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

A part-solution? The Urban Car (TUC). It can be city car sized... or up to 4m long if five or seven tight seats are essential. If it doesn't have ultimate green driving machine credentials it's not a proper urban car. It also needs to be occupant, passenger, pedestrian and cylist friendly. And quiet as a kayak noise levels would help. Affordable buying/running/parking costs (half price charges when bay-sharing, surely) are all essential.

Shell Project M city car

Of course, the urban car has to be fun, and capable of 70mph on occasional motorway trips to the countryside or beach.

Wearing my World Car Awards director and vice-chairman hat, I've proposed and taken responsibility for the World Urban Car competition that will, from 2017, be presented at the New York Motor Show. And during our recent meeting, UK transport minister Andrew Jones asked me to update him and his Department for Transport team on what we hope will be the rise and rise of the purpose-built urban car.

Start getting used to it. This could become the only three or four-wheeled vehicle urbanites - that's most of us - will be legally permitted to drive to and from our neighbourhoods.

What would be your solution to fix our crowded cities? Let us know in the comments below...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020
'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'
News

'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'

Just because premium brands can offer cheap finance deals, it doesn't mean that they can fob buyers off with poor customer service, says Deputy editor…
15 Apr 2020
“UK motor industry – your country and its people need you”
News

“UK motor industry – your country and its people need you”

Mike Rutherford thinks the motor industry can still do more to help provide life-saving medical kit
12 Apr 2020
‘What better than a thumbs-up from an existing owner?’
News

‘What better than a thumbs-up from an existing owner?’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler gives his view on our 2020 Driver Power survey, and is especially pleased by Kia's success
8 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New Cupra el-Born electric hot hatch offers 310-mile range
Cupra el-Born

New Cupra el-Born electric hot hatch offers 310-mile range

The sporty Cupra el-Born is the Spanish brand’s first all-electric vehicle – and it has a maximum claimed range of 310 miles
8 Jul 2020
New Polestar 2 2020 review
Polestar 2 Hatchback

New Polestar 2 2020 review

We get behind the wheel of the new Polestar 2 to see if it can rival the Tesla Model 3
7 Jul 2020
New Kia e-Niro 2020 review
Kia e-Niro SUV

New Kia e-Niro 2020 review

All-electric Kia e-Niro mid-sized SUV 
benefits from same updates as hybrid Niro versions
9 Jul 2020