Can we create a sustainable future with cars in it?

On Wednesday, 25 Jan 2023 at 17:00 CET, @inge is hosting an online participatory workshop with dr Paul Nieuwenhuis on circularity and sustainability in automotive industry

The impact of the car is not just tailpipe emissions; it’s much broader. So, how do we envision a green future with cars? Is that compatible: sustainability and cars?

Dr. Paul Nieuwenhuis, a self-styled ‘automotive philosopher,’ will discuss how we got here - from mass production to environmental impacts - and how we can move to more sustainable and green models.

Nieuwenhuis has a background in automotive consultancy and academia, working with the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School in Wales, UK. His publications focus on the motor car’s environmental impact and possible solutions.

The workshop focuses on four questions:

  • How does the automotive industry work?
  • What are its environmental impacts?
  • What is the importance of building a relationship with your car?
  • Which possible future scenarios exist?

The format is an interview with dr Nieuwenhuis, with live Q&A parts.
The participation is free, this is the link for the registration.

The workshop is a part of Treasure, one of our research projects, focusing on the possible evolution of the automotive towards circular practices.

If you cannot join, but you would like to ask a question, give your contribution, feel free to post a question or a comment in reply to this post. If possible, we will discuss it with dr Nieuwenhuis.


That’s an interesting question to discuss! Specifically I would like to know, “what does the automotive industry optimize for”? What is it good at, and how is that decided?

It’s apparently not optimized for vehicle longevity, ease of repair, and low total cost of car ownership. As much was quite clear to me from my research when writing my article “Automotive Nightmares”. (That article has quite some absurd and funny anecdotes about contemporary cars … and later a client told me some more. Enjoy :laughing: )

What was not clear to me, and it has been an open question ever since, are the organizational mechanisms that nudged or forced automakers to create these products, rather than cars optimized for reliability, low resource consumption, longevity, ease of repair and so on. I’m not assuming it is anyone’s personal fault – it’s also not just one automaker “at fault”, it’s rather our whole socio-economic system. As much is clear. But what are the forces in our current system that created this situation, how exactly did they have that effect, and what are our options for reversing this damage?

I’ll try to make it to the event’s call and join the Q&A about that. If not possible, I’ll explain my questions here so you can discuss it anyway if you like.


Unfortunately, on 25.01. can’t join, but something bothers me:

How sustainable can e-cars be once the batteries have reached their end of life, how do we dispose of them? Aren’t we just postponing the problems to the future?

Our cars with conventional engines have been and are sold abroad - eg Africa - where they are still driven for a very long time. Is that sustainable? CO2 does not stop at state borders, what can individual states do about it?


Looking forward to the event tomorrow!

I’m curious to know what would be the main drivers of sustainable change and how high on that list are the customers (how much power the consumers actually have to foster change)?