As 2010 starts off and Detroit hosts the big auto show, some people are looking to signs of increased car sales as a spark of hope for economic recovery. But what about the long term effect of selling more cars? There are now more cars being sold in China than in the US, and the effects of this trend could be killer, literally.
I just calculated that if the number of vehicles per person in China reaches the level of, for example, the UK--by no means the most "vehicle-rich" country in the world, what with its public transportation system and high vehicle taxes--then China would become home to somewhere in excess of 6 billion vehicles, versus the 150 million vehicles in China today. Remember the smog before the Olympics?
To put it a different way, China would have three times the number of vehicles in America today. And if the Chinese "achieve" American levels of vehicle density, we could be looking at 5 times as many cars in China as there are in America. Sales opportunity for the car makers or death sentence for the planet?
Happy New Year!