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2017: The Year of Self-Driving Cars and Trucks

Connected cars and driverless fleet cars are on the way. How will we deal with them?

2 min read
Opening illustration for Spectral Lines column
Illustration: Greg Mably

opening illustration for spectral lines departmentIllustration: Greg Mably

Former GM R&D chief Larry Burns has likened it to an arms race. But whether you think the advent of self-driving vehicles is going to destroy our economic systems or save our cities, the total automation of driving is certainly going to transform the way we live.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images
Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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