There are about 7 billion people in the world today and about 1 billion cars on the road. By 2050, the global population is expected to reach 9 billion. With more people, and greater prosperity, the number of vehicles could increase to 4 billion by mid-century.
In the decades to come, 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. And 50 of those cities will have more than 10 million residents. All of this raises the possibility of global gridlock – a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources. Even if the new vehicles we make have zero emissions and draw from renewable energy sources, 4 billion cars are still 4 billion cars.
The challenge goes beyond one of inconvenience. If we look at the numbers, and look at the state of our global transportation infrastructure, it is not difficult to see a future in which the flow of commerce – and even the flow of health care and food delivery – are compromised. At Ford, we see global gridlock as not just an issue of business and economics, but as a problem that can have a significant impact on the quality of human life.
In early 2012, we announced our new Blueprint for Mobility. Similar in concept to our overall Blueprint for Sustainability, it sets near-, mid- and long-term goals for solutions to the changing transportation landscape. The Blueprint for Mobility defines the start of our thinking about what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and identifies the types of technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get us there.
Our vision blends smart transportation with intelligent vehicles and transport systems that are interconnected through a global technology network. We see a radically different transportation landscape in which pedestrian, bicycle, private car, commercial and public transportation are woven into a connected network that saves time, conserves resources, lowers emissions and improves safety. We know we must view the automobile as one element of a broader transportation ecosystem, and look for new ways to optimize the entire system.
We are already developing new business models and partnerships toward this future in a way that is shifting the paradigm of what it means to be an automaker. But no one company or industry will be able to solve the mobility issue alone. It is a huge challenge that will only be successful if governments, infrastructure developers and industry come together to collaborate on a global scale.
A truly sustainable, long-term solution will require a global transportation network that includes vehicle, infrastructure and mobile communications. We need cars that can communicate with each other, and with the world around them, to make driving safer and more efficient. This smart, connected system will tie all modes of travel into a single network linking public and personal transportation together.
The last few years have seen technological breakthroughs, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, that we didn’t think possible a few decades ago. Increasingly, Ford is becoming a technology company that makes cars and trucks, and we will continue to explore ways to leverage these technological innovations so we can tackle mobility challenges.
Congestion is a huge problem in many regions of the world. Consider the following:
- In Sao Paulo, Brazil, traffic jams regularly exceed 100 miles, and the average commute lasts between two and three hours a day. Despite this, car purchases are growing at a rate of 7.5 percent annually.
- In China, the world’s longest period of gridlock was registered at 11 days during 2010.
- In England, it is estimated that the cost of congestion to the economy due to lost time will rise to about $35 billion annually by 2025.
“The automobile has given individuals the freedom of mobility. Prior to the Model T, the average person didn’t travel more than 25 miles from home in his or her entire lifetime. The Model T allowed people to decide where to live, work and play. As the car’s popularity has grown, that individual freedom has become threatened. Now we have an opportunity to turn this challenge into a solution.”
Bill Ford, Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman