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Smart Cars

The context

In many northern countries, people have come to rely on the car. Whereas in the past most children walked to school and commuters caught trains and buses, now more and more people are driving. As a result, the amount of traffic on the roads grows every year.

As with all new technologies, the car has had good and bad effects. Personal transport is undoubtedly useful. The car protects people from the weather and is quick and convenient. The car industry is huge and many people's livelihoods depend on manufacturing and servicing vehicles, providing components for manufacturers, and processing the plastics and metals that are used to make cars.

However, cars contribute to global warming. They produce fumes that cause illness. A huge amount of energy is used in their production. Most run on finite oil-based fuels. Wars are fought to give powerful countries control over access to oil supplies. And as more people use cars, the roads get clogged up and new roads need to be built.

In the long run, it seems that our reliance on cars is not sustainable. But in the short to medium term is it possible to produce a more sustainable car?

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Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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