Electric Cars and the Re-Rise of Suburbia

Recently I have been reading a lot about electric cars. Since I have to drive a lot for my work, having lower fuel costs is a dream. In addition I would feel better about myself, because I won’t use up fossil fuels and reduce my carbon footprint.

These cars are still quite pricey in comparison to regular cars and many of those in the lower price ranges look horrible. It seems like electric driving is targeted at people who want to look like dorks. Tesla, however, designs cars that look great. If I had been fourteen today I would definitely have a poster of one on my wall. It is not hard to imagine that in the near future these cars are cheaper and designed by people who don’t hate cars.

Tesla (this would be that poster). Source:  Autoblog.com

Tesla (this would be that poster). Source: Autoblog.com

Yesterday I was watching a documentary ‘The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream’ (2006). The film basically argues that the rising oil prices make living in the suburbs impossible, forcing people towards the city. It started me thinking about what role electric cars might have in this discussion.

The fuel consumption of electric cars is about ten times lower than of gasoline cars, and in the coming years they will probably become more efficient. If the costs for traveling will be strongly reduced, they will no longer form an incentive for families to move into the city.

I consider myself an advocate for smart and dense cities: massive sprawl is not on my list. If we want people to live in cities, we should make sure that enough apartments, that match people’s needs and wishes, are available. Recently, I wrote about the scarcity on Stockholm’s housing market. This scarcity means that developers can build basically anything, people will buy it anyway.

Building sustainable cities should mean that we build affordable cities, where people can find suitable apartments in their neighbourhood even though their family situation changes. If costs for individual travel goes down, the city will need to, once more, compete with the cheaper countryside.

Don’t let history repeat itself!

Written by Sascha Benes. Follow him on Twitter, Linkedin and .