Special Issue "Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Transportation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Sven Kesselring
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nuertingen-Geislingen University (HfWU), Campus Geislingen, Parkstraße 4, 73312 Geislingen, Germany
Interests: mobility research; sustainable (auto)mobilities; urban policies; social theory
Dr. Weert Canzler
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Social Science Center Berlin (WZB), Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Interests: mobility research; energy transition; innovation policy
Prof. Dr. Vincent Kaufmann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Interests: mobility research; land use planning; social theory
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The “system of automobility” (Urry 2004) is in the process of deep on-going transformation. In the digital age, new opportunities, technologies, and business models have emerged for organizing the mobility of individuals. Mobility as a service (MaaS), sharing concepts in general, electrified, autonomous, and even mobility based on solar energy are no longer vague ideas but realistic opportunities for the future of mobilities. “Tracing mobilities” (Canzler, Kaufmann, Kesselring 2008) has become part of the everyday business of the mobility industry as a whole.

It seems the drivers of these developments are no longer just the big European, US, and Japanese car companies. Innovations and a push towards a new form of selling access to mobility instead of cars have emerged from Chinese entrepreneurs together with Chinese car companies, which constantly increase their market shares.

In Germany, i.e., a number of initiatives have been started to face and manage the transformation of the automotive industry including strategic dialog initiatives and the like. Start-ups have also begun to challenge the mature industry.

Against the backdrop of these recent developments, this Special Issue asks for the potential, risks, and dangers of the transformative process. It asks if the changes in the industry open up a transition towards sustainable automobilities or if the future of automobility lies in a “system of mobilities” (Kesselring 2008; 2019) that integrates cars, as one element among many others.

The editors of this Special Issue invite theoretically and empirically driven contributions dealing with the following topics:

  • Towards a theory of sustainable mobilities; theories of change
  • Transformations of automobilities in the mobile risk society
  • Changing mobilities: Innovative car producers, the new entrepreneurial cultures in for instance Asia, and the role of the state
  • Automobility and the new culture of sustainability
  • Lifestyles and social practice beyond automobile dependency
  • Cooperative, connected, and automated/autonomous mobility
  • The culture of artificial intelligence and the future of (sustainable) automobility Discursive policies for the future of automobilities
  • Current challenges in automotive management: new financial services, digitalization, new mobility concepts
  • New sustainable materials and production systems
  • Mobility as a service (MaaS)
  • When automobilities meets the city
  • “After the car”: Imagining post-automobility
  • Disruptive (auto)mobilities

We are calling for interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives and are inviting both theoretically and empirically driven research. Contributions can be from social science, history, automotive management, industrial relations, mobilities research, and theory.

The Special Issue “Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society" has been supported by the Jean Monnet Network on Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobilities (CCAMEU), co-funded by a European Union ERASMUS+ Grant (599662-EPP-1-2018-1-AU-EPPJMO-NETWORK).

Prof. Dr. Sven Kesselring
Dr. Weert Canzler
Prof. Dr. Vincent Kaufmann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Just transition: Transformation of transport
  • Societal impact of decarbonization of the transport sector
  • Automotive management
  • Role of active mobility
  • Mobilities research
  • Narratives of post-automobilism
  • Transport policies and populist strategies

Published Papers (10 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle
Providers and Practices: How Suppliers Shape Car-Sharing Practices
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1764; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041764 - 06 Feb 2021
Viewed by 451
Abstract
Social practice theories can be useful for studying changes in mobility systems as regards automobility practices. However, many studies address the demand side and the user practices of consumers, without examining the supplier side. This Norwegian study focuses on the role of providers [...] Read more.
Social practice theories can be useful for studying changes in mobility systems as regards automobility practices. However, many studies address the demand side and the user practices of consumers, without examining the supplier side. This Norwegian study focuses on the role of providers in car-sharing practices, using data from household interviews with car-sharing users, stakeholder workshops, and interviews with providers of car-sharing services. How are car-sharing providers shaping car-sharing practices, and with what implications? How do business models and platform technologies affect car-sharing practices? The results show how new car-sharing service companies, in addition to established firms such as car dealers and car rental companies, affect car-sharing practices by offering several alternatives for accessing cars. The implications of this are discussed, noting how car-sharing practices are shaped by car-sharing providers in the recursive relationship between practice-as-entity and practice-as-performance. The conclusions offer a critical view of how the providers contribute to various kinds of car-sharing understandings, as well as the implications for policy and practitioners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Acceptable Automobility through Automated Driving. Insights into the Requirements for Different Mobility Configurations and an Evaluation of Suitable Use Cases
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9253; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219253 - 07 Nov 2020
Viewed by 374
Abstract
It is hoped that Automated Driving (AD) will make alternatives to the private car more attractive and facilitate the transition to sustainable transport. However, this expectation may underestimate both the resistance of private automobility and the unintended consequences of automated driving. Whether AD [...] Read more.
It is hoped that Automated Driving (AD) will make alternatives to the private car more attractive and facilitate the transition to sustainable transport. However, this expectation may underestimate both the resistance of private automobility and the unintended consequences of automated driving. Whether AD will contribute to sustainable mobility depends largely on its implementation and how its risks are prevented. This paper provides empirical insights into the design of acceptable forms of AD by investigating specific use cases with respect to the requirements of different mobility configurations. We pay special attention to people who travel with children. Our use cases comprise three probable types, covering the spectrum from demand-responsive transport (DRT) to private vehicles. Our results include the identification of mobility configurations and an analysis of AD use cases considering several empirically derived criteria: improved accessibility, ease of daily life and well-being, and improvement of the traffic situation and the transport system. Our analysis is based on a qualitative study in the Berlin area, Germany. The discussion focuses on the usefulness of AD against the background of different user perspectives, sustainability, and societal requirements, as well as an evaluation of AD in terms of its acceptability. We conclude that automated mobility use cases should meet the requirements of different mobility configurations to promote the transformation from private to shared automobility and, eventually, less automobility overall. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Open AccessArticle
Decarbonizing Transport in the European Union: Emission Performance Standards and the Perspectives for a European Green Deal
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8381; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208381 - 12 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 840
Abstract
The transport sector is a major driver of climate change both globally and in the European Union (EU). While the EU as a whole is showing declining carbon emissions, transport-related emissions are higher than in 1990. Car traffic is responsible for around 12 [...] Read more.
The transport sector is a major driver of climate change both globally and in the European Union (EU). While the EU as a whole is showing declining carbon emissions, transport-related emissions are higher than in 1990. Car traffic is responsible for around 12 percent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined the efforts to strengthen the decarbonization of the EU at the end of 2019 by publishing the European Green Deal (EGD) communication. In this paper, we analyze the controversy surrounding the emission performance standards for cars adopted in spring 2019. Car manufacturers must reduce the average carbon emissions of their fleets by 37.5% between 2021 and 2030. In this respect, the new emission performance standards are more ambitious than the previous ones. However, our argument is that without a major shift in the balance of power, extensive decarbonization and a departure from car-centered transport development will not be possible. Therefore, it is crucial for mobility research to critically engage with lobbying power in the EU and with concepts such as environmental leadership, which often underexpose the structural power of incumbent actors and existing path dependencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Open AccessArticle
Reassessing the Role of Shared Mobility Services in a Transport Transition: Can They Contribute the Rise of an Alternative Socio-Technical Regime of Mobility?
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8253; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198253 - 07 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 657
Abstract
Recent years have seen a proliferation of platform-based “shared mobility services” (SMS) such as car-, bike-, and e-scooter-sharing in many cities in Germany and around the world. At the same time, these services have become the subject of intense debates: Are they replacing [...] Read more.
Recent years have seen a proliferation of platform-based “shared mobility services” (SMS) such as car-, bike-, and e-scooter-sharing in many cities in Germany and around the world. At the same time, these services have become the subject of intense debates: Are they replacing private car travel, thus contributing to sustainable mobility in cities? Or are they drawing users away from public transit and cycling while obstructing public space? From the perspective of sustainable mobility politics, it seems far from clear which role these new services could play in transitioning to a less car-centric mobility system. While a number of potential effects and ensuing governance issues of shared mobility services (e.g., regarding questions of equitable access, data governance, the role of public versus private actors) have already been studied, this article explores the role of shared mobility services (SMS) in triggering system dynamics and feedback loops in the context of sustainability transitions. The article connects questions regarding the sustainability effects of “shared mobility services” with the role of “push” measures to reduce private car traffic in cities. Using a theoretical framework from socio-technical transitions research and from the sociology of technology, it describes the recent growth of shared mobility services in Berlin as an example of the upscaling dynamics of socio-technical niche innovations. Drawing on a series of workshops with mobility service providers and representatives of public authorities, it analyses the potential for conflict as well as for coalition-building between service providers and public authorities. Based on the theoretical concept of the role of feedback loops and windows of opportunity for transitions, it shows how the market growth of shared mobility services has added momentum to an already ongoing political debate over the legitimate use of public space in Berlin. Against this backdrop, the article discusses how growing numbers of car-, bike-, and e-scooter-sharing vehicles could open up windows of opportunity for re-distributing space away from private cars. The article concludes that supporting and regulating SMS will be key to steering their growth in the direction of sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Small and Light Electric Vehicles: An Analysis of Feasible Transport Impacts and Opportunities for Improved Urban Land Use
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8098; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198098 - 01 Oct 2020
Viewed by 550
Abstract
Improvements in battery technology have resulted in small and light electric vehicles (LEVs) appearing on the market in Europe since 2011—however, their market share is still comparatively low. Low energy requirements and small size can potentially contribute to sustainable mobility in terms of [...] Read more.
Improvements in battery technology have resulted in small and light electric vehicles (LEVs) appearing on the market in Europe since 2011—however, their market share is still comparatively low. Low energy requirements and small size can potentially contribute to sustainable mobility in terms of climate protection and reduced local emissions. Our study evaluates how three-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles, categorised as L-Class according to Regulation (EU) No 168/2013, can contribute to more efficient use of space in urban areas. Evaluations of expert interviews, an extensive literature research, and analyses of the German national household travel survey (MiD) serve as the basis of the study. First, the substitution potential of trips through LEVs is explored using MiD data. Our findings show that between 17% and 49% of trips made and 6% to 30% of the distance covered by private trips can theoretically be substituted by LEVs. Thus, reorganisation of current land use offers potential and additionally, LEVs are an attractive and sustainable addition to other means of transport and contribute to achieving the climate protection goals of the transport sector. Due to the fact that technology application is restricted by travel behaviour and political support, our study discusses possible support by public bodies towards sustainable mobility. Here, the promotion of LEVs in combination with restrictive measures for cars is necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Greening the Car? Conflict Dynamics within the German Platform for Electric Mobility
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8043; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198043 - 29 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 596
Abstract
The environmental crisis due to air pollution, high CO2 emissions, noise from traffic and soil ceiling requires profound changes to the car-dependent transport system. This article examines the political dynamics of German transport politics, focusing on the National Platform for Electric Mobility [...] Read more.
The environmental crisis due to air pollution, high CO2 emissions, noise from traffic and soil ceiling requires profound changes to the car-dependent transport system. This article examines the political dynamics of German transport politics, focusing on the National Platform for Electric Mobility (NPE), a high-level political forum that aimed to accelerate the run-up of the electric mobility market in Germany. The NPE provides an interesting case to study the strategies of stakeholders in influencing policy-making and shaping alternative pathways to the car-centered transport system. The paper focusses on actor constellations and the conflicts that arise within the NPE, as well as the temporal dynamics within the electric mobility debate. The findings suggest that the NPE contributed to a narrow understanding of mobility transformation based on road transport and electric cars, but that it is better described as ecological modernization. Within this narrow framework, a fundamental conflict unfolds between strong advocates versus those slowing down the ecological modernization of the car. A third group demands at least a partial departure from the automobile-centered model but remains marginalized within the NPE. Aside from this core conflict, members of the NPE struggled over the location for battery cell production, the introduction of a purchase grant known as the environmental bonus, and the expansion of battery recharging infrastructure. These issues illustrate that discussions within the NPE relate to the political debates about the future of mobility, which have intensified in Germany in recent years. However, the case of the NPE shows that high-level stakeholder platforms are not an adequate forum to legitimately deliberate and to practically contribute to a wider and more fundamental rethink of future mobility concepts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Open AccessArticle
Reducing Road Transport Emissions in Europe: Investigating A Demand Side Driven Approach
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7594; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187594 - 15 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 595
Abstract
The European Union aims at net-zero emissions by 2050. A key sector to achieve this goal is road transport, where emissions show no signs of reducing but continue to grow. A review of policies undertaken by EU member states and the G20 to [...] Read more.
The European Union aims at net-zero emissions by 2050. A key sector to achieve this goal is road transport, where emissions show no signs of reducing but continue to grow. A review of policies undertaken by EU member states and the G20 to reduce transport emissions reveals that both present and planned policies focus on binding supply-side measures, but offer only weak demand-side incentives. To address this imbalance, we developed a downstream, demand-side policy prototype through an expert interview design process. We call the prototype “cap-and-surrender” because it caps road emissions, and then allocates tradable emission allowances to individual vehicles that drivers surrender at each fill-up. Allowance pricing, both by the state and in the secondary market, is designed to incentivize decarbonization of the sector. Though the system would require significant investment, its revenue potential to the state should exceed this investment by several multiples. We discuss the potential economic, environmental and social impacts of the policy, as assessed by European transport experts. We find that the approach can deliver significant transport emission reductions in an effective and economically efficient manner. Through the appropriate design of national allocation rules and a gradual phasing in of cap and surrender, potential negative social consequences can be mitigated, and public acceptance of the policy promoted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Mobility in the Mobile Risk Society—Designing Innovative Mobility Solutions in Copenhagen
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7218; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177218 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 826
Abstract
The issue of creating more sustainable mobility systems has been revisited during the past 50 years. So far, we are still waiting for an innovative systemic change that is not simply an iteration of existing technologies. This standstill is to a large degree [...] Read more.
The issue of creating more sustainable mobility systems has been revisited during the past 50 years. So far, we are still waiting for an innovative systemic change that is not simply an iteration of existing technologies. This standstill is to a large degree due to the hegemonic mobility paradigm, working under a “predict and provide”-driven approach, with little attention being paid to environmental and social externalities. This paper calls for a new understanding of mobility transition interlinked with the cultural values of modern societies, deeply rooted in the mobile risk society. To create sustainable mobility practices we need robust, socially coherent, and inclusive mobility systems that are more than just transportation systems and connections. The empirical starting point is a visionary workshop on designing “Sustainable Innovative Mobility Solutions” in three urban areas in Copenhagen. The workshop created a cross-disciplinary space for actors to meet across dominant silos and acknowledge the need for intervention framings to focus on innovation as a matter of interlinking sustainable mobilities practices within everyday living in a mobile risk society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Open AccessArticle
Reconstituting Automobility: The Influence of Non-Commercial Carsharing on the Meanings of Automobility and the Car
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7062; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177062 - 29 Aug 2020
Viewed by 590
Abstract
Automobility has long been understood as the normal and hegemonic way of moving and even without considering a global pandemic and the imperative of social distancing, disruptive change in everyday automobility seems far away. Based on 34 interviews with members of carsharing associations [...] Read more.
Automobility has long been understood as the normal and hegemonic way of moving and even without considering a global pandemic and the imperative of social distancing, disruptive change in everyday automobility seems far away. Based on 34 interviews with members of carsharing associations and private carsharing arrangements, this article argues that non-commercial carsharing, a self-organized form of carsharing, poses a twofold challenge to the hegemonic meanings of automobility on the level of everyday practice. First, the car’s role as status symbol is fading and overridden as an object of utility that is only used when absolutely necessary and mostly for leisure purposes. Second, the car is losing its position as the realization of individual freedom and the coercive aspects of the car and automobility become strongly present amongst non-commercial carsharers. Thereby, automobility emerges as an ambivalent issue and becomes perceived as means of liberation and means of domination simultaneously. By working with and against automobility’s hegemonic meanings on the level of everyday practice, non-commercial carsharing is changing the system of automobility from within and bears the potential for substantially altering the reproduction of the system of automobility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Open AccessArticle
Automobilities after SARS-CoV-2: A Socio-Technical Perspective
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5978; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155978 - 24 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 927
Abstract
This paper presents an analysis, informed by socio-technical transitions theory and the socially derived concept of automobility, of the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and resulting COVID-19 pandemic on automobility in Europe. The paper argues that the concept of a pervasive, sudden, and [...] Read more.
This paper presents an analysis, informed by socio-technical transitions theory and the socially derived concept of automobility, of the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and resulting COVID-19 pandemic on automobility in Europe. The paper argues that the concept of a pervasive, sudden, and powerful crisis has not previously be explored in the socio-technical transitions literature. The strong behavioural changes in physical and virtual mobility associated with the pandemic are argued to be particularly significant, representing a ‘living lab’ in which to explore the possibilities for disintegrating the boundaries of the automobility system, thereby breaking the enduring structures and practices that have enabled automobility to remain largely unchallenged in the policy arena. Change processes previously underway in the automotive industry and in automobility are not impacted equally by the pandemic. We present initial evidence that mobility sharing will reduce, while the acceptance of electric cars will increase. However, it is also concluded that the hegemony of private automobility is not in itself threatened by pandemic outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Automobilities in the Mobile Risk Society)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop