In Summary
  • They are a massive global industry in their own right as well as a key tool for every other, they are the unrivalled mobiliser of human movement and  have turned oil into gold that wars are fought over, and in these and many other ways they have been and are primary determinants  of the geopolitical World Order

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Nothing causes greater change in the world – or the way we live in it – than a new form of transport.

That principle has held true since man first learnt to ride a horse and float a boat,  the invention of the wheel, the sail, the road, the rail, and ultimately the “engine” which now delivers such extraordinary portable power to everything on land or sea or on the wing.

Each advance, in its time, has wrought the most profound change in everything human beings do, how they live, and the planet they live on.  And none more so – in every physical, economic, political, social and environmental respect -  than motor vehicles powered by internal combustion engines burning petrol and diesel.

They have been so transformative, so successful and are now so universal (there are more than one billion motor vehicles on the roads today) that every aspect of the modern world has been shaped by them and for them.

They are a massive global industry in their own right as well as a key tool for every other, they are the unrivalled mobiliser of human movement and  have turned oil into gold that wars are fought over, and in these and many other ways they have been and are primary determinants  of the geopolitical World Order.

So we might expect  something other than “business as usual” for humans and the earth if and when petrol and diesel engines are no more.  That end has been a known certainty for some time (oil reserves are not infinite, and burning them has some unviable side effects), but the alternatives have hitherto belonged to distant-future science fiction.  Until now.  And by “now”  I mean this month. 

In the space of  a few weeks,  Mercedes has predicted that electric cars will be mainstream by 2020,  Volvo has announced that all its future models will be powered by electric or hybrid motors; France has said it will ban fossil-fuel engines by 2040;  and the Dutch agrees with all of them.

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