"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 - 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...




‘It’s Car Care Week, so head outside and show your motor a little love’

If you can’t drive your car, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks you should wash it instead. When you're done, send us a pic and we’ll print the best
1 Apr 2020

'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020

‘JLR’s very British approach: keep calm and carry on’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler praises Jaguar Land Rover on both its ability to handle a crisis
26 Mar 2020

'Car exhibitions are going through the most dramatic period of change in a generation'

With the changing car market, the government's petrol & diesel ban plus the unprecedented Coronavirus, the car exhibition industry is going through a …
22 Mar 2020

Most Popular

Number plates

Banned UK number plates: the 20-plate car registrations too rude for the road

The DVLA has released its bi-annual list of banned UK number plates deemed too distasteful for the road
1 Apr 2020
Hyundai Kona electric front
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric to get increased range from July

UK-delivered Hyundai Kona Electrics will be outfitted with a handful of mechanical revisions, boosting the SUV’s maximum range to 300 miles
18 Mar 2020

Fuel stations risk closure as petrol sales fall 75%

Many petrol stations, particularly those in rural areas, will have to close due to poor sales during the coronavirus lockdown
31 Mar 2020