New powertrains and new forms of mobilities: global tendencies, politics and markets

Theme N°: 

The global car industry faces multiple challenges in terms of structure and organization, since the debate on alternative fuels and powertrains. Questions range from rethinking the industrial value chain to changing demand, and/or support measures from politics and urban planning.
The two main aspects we are thinking about in our international network (since sustainable transport and new forms of mobility has become an integral part of GERPISA’s research agenda), deal with the newcomers in the industry and their impacts on the “traditional” business models on the one hand, and the blurring of the boundaries between public transport and private transport on the other hand. If new mobility patterns entail regime change, we need to describe how and why it is linked to the current relocation dynamics in the global automotive industry, how politics are linked to the recent economic crisis and existing patterns in Japan, Europe, the US, and emerging markets. In that respect, and as a part of our research agenda, we are about to theoretically and empirically examine the transformations of the existing automobile system. To which degree do new powertrains – and their use through new “sustainable” mobility services – transform the sector’s structure and institutions, new markets and business practices? How do OEMs react to this challenge, which patterns of collaboration and innovation emerge? Based on which concepts can we grasp the scope of technological, societal and political transition we are facing? How to evaluate the rise of national and regional support schemes, how do they operate, what explains success or failure? What is the role and impact of public (environmental or transport) politics in shaping the integration of new and old technology? Directly linked with this dimension, there is also a need to reassess the construction of mobility policies. Traditionally, the conception of mobility led to a clear-cut boundary between public and private transport. Following the increase of intermodality, this boundary is weakened from several viewpoints. This entails fundamental research questions in terms of the structures of both industries (private and public transport) and their interconnections. How do carmakers and suppliers deal with this reorientation, from technological and business models viewpoints? What are the levers and the constraints to this development? What about the urban planning configurations in emerging and traditional countries?

This year’s conference is going to look deeper into these issues in a global comparative perspective, and we invite papers that reflect and describe these new developments in the existing automobile system. Possible trajectories of transformation can emerge locally all over the world, and we need more comparative case studies. While in 2013 this thematic section looked at the European side focusing on how to intelligently combine existing instruments and/or new products, this year’s conference at Kyoto specifically invites contributions focusing on markets outside of Europe and North America. Examples are experimental projects that combine electric or low carbon cars in local transport systems, responding to mobility needs and behavior. We invite research analyzing OEMs’ strategies, the involvement of new players from different sectors. Innovations range from services, data transfer, and charging infrastructure to light material and design. They include firm practices such fleet management, terms of decision making processes and management, but also new ways of user integration and innovation: what is new sustainable urban vehicle, and where? How will it be used? Which consequences for the sector? Case studies on different global regions addressing these issues are welcome.

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Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Juan Sebastian Carbonell, Lorenza MonacoGéry Deffontaines

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