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2.5 Billion Vehicles by 2050

At the International Transport Forum (ITF) in Leipzig, it was announced that the world's current vehicle count is more than 850 million cars and small trucks. However in its Transport Outlook 2011 report the ITF projects that number is expected to increase to 2.5 Billion vehicles by 2050.

The vast majority of this growth will come from the developing countries since travel by passenger vehicle in a number of high-income countries has not increased, and even declined in some countries. Adding that many more vehicles in a sustainable way is an "extraordinary challenge", said Jack Short, Secretary General of the ITF.

Short recognized making such projections is risky because many factors such as lower economic growth, new technologies, or congestion in cities will have an impact on levels of car ownership in future.

 "Sharing vehicles is much more efficient and represents a huge opportunity," stated Robin Chase, CEO of Buzzcar, a car sharing network to be launched shortly in France. The forum is an intergovernmental organization for the transportation sector involving 52 different nations. The Transport Outlook report released at the forum to the 800 plus attendees from more than 50 countries did not factor in the potential for car sharing to offer personal mobility without car ownership.

This car sharing makes sense from the perspective that most vehicles sit 22 of the 24 hours per day. In Japan, Toyota stated it would launch a car sharing program for residents at three condominiums in Tokyo and Nagoya next spring, using its Prius Plug-in Hybrid and a new electric vehicle now under development.

Audi Japan KK is launching a car rental service, initially targeting existing owners and eventually expanding it to cover other drivers.

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. will begin offering auto insurance by the day in October. This industry first will definitely help with those people that “car share” and desire to have adequate insurance protection in case of accidents.

One very important aspect of this “car sharing” that those proposing it are over looking is that of maintenance. It is already a nightmare for most service advisers to get in touch with vehicle owners, now when someone else is driving the vehicle who is responsible. As mechanics the world over can attest, when someone other than the owner of a vehicle uses it, they typically abuse it. Thus maintenance requirements and expenses will most likely climb.

Another is that of unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured vehicles on the roads of the world. It is a real nightmare for law enforcement to know what vehicle is or is not in compliance with the registration, licensing and insurance requirements even with the current database system. When this moves to a “car sharing” environment with daily or even hourly changes, the data administration will literally bring law enforcement to a stand still while records and credentials are checked.

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