Excellent book, refreshingly out-of-the-box thinking, and not so futuristic after all, as three GM EN-V prototypes (Xiao - Laugh, Jiao - Pride, and Miao - Magic) are now being exhibited in Shanghai, and the MIT CityCar prototype is being built in Spain, due for field testing next year in five cities around the world, and already scheduled for mass production by late 2012. The electric driverless car is just around the corner.
In quite a masterpiece of original thinking, the authors deliver a solution for our current model of unsustainable cities by proposing a reinvented automobile, with a new DNA, combined with Mobility Internet and smart clean energy. They proposed ultra-small vehicles (USV) as a solution, an urban car designed for megacities, as opposed to the 20th century solution of designing and adapting cities and their landscape around cars. USVs and their wireless capabilities would allow electronically managed variable pricing systems for roads (congestion pricing), parking, car sharing and even auto insurance. But the most promising new concept is "mobility-on-demand" systems, to efficiently complement public transportation by providing a personal mobility service for the "first mile" and "last mile" of urban trips. Certainly the combination of the proposed schemes would result in a safe, environmentally friendly, affordable, and sustainable solution for the personal mobility needs in urban environments.
Despite the book's futuristic view, Chapter 9 is a must read for both urban planners and traffic engineers, and particularly for the laymen. This chapter presents the best collection of evidence I have seen (presented in very nice graphs and figures that deliver the message crystal clear) demonstrating the unsustainability of our current model of automobile travel (in the U.S and around the world), not only because of the well known traffic congestion problems, death toll due to accidents, air pollution and waste of time and fossil fuels, but also because of all the indirect negative impacts (externalities in more technical jargon). This chapter makes an excellent case for getting rid of the internal combustion engine and to move on asap to more sustainable and more efficient means of transportation, whether you believe in global warming or not, whether you are concerned about energy independence or not.
This book is a must read for scholars and practitioners of city planning and urban transportation, as well as the serious fans of electric cars.