Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Structure, agency and change in the car regime: A review of the literature

Marletto, Gerardo (2010): Structure, agency and change in the car regime: A review of the literature. Published in: European Transport No. 47 (April 2011): pp. 71-88.

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Abstract

This paper is aimed at filling the gap between the already well structured literature on the 'car regime' and the debate on policies for sustainable transport. Two main results emerge from the literature on the past and current evolution of the car regime: 1) the car regime was established thanks to the ability of purposeful private actors to use the technology of internal combustion to influence markets and institutions, and finally society as a whole; 2) previous attempts to make urban and regional mobility more sustainable fail because multiple - and mutually reinforcing - path-dependence phenomena lock the society into the car regime. For the future, the dominant scenario appears to be the internal transformation of the existing car regime, which is currently driven by the automotive industry and based on hybrid technology; the emergence of an alternative electric car regime - driven by producers of batteries and managers of electric utilities - remains a secondary option. Further research is needed to understand how - starting from the existing alternatives to the car and the innovations in the car itself - a coalition of public and private actors may be promoted and sustained to create a new regime of sustainable mobility.

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