Transcript Paul Nieuwenhuis

GMT20220718-132642_Recording (1).m4a
Speaker 2: So my very, very first question for you is who you are and what do you work on?

Speaker1: [00:07:40] Right. Well, we have established that I am Dutch. I was born just outside Eindhoven and held up. I don’t know if you are familiar with it. So I used to cycle to school every day past the DAF factory. So I’ve been a car guy from very early age. But then in the 1980s I worked for a management consultancy that specialized in the car industry, which was spun off from the University of East Anglia. And. I was monitoring really the the non-English speaking media. And it was quite clear that within the car industry, perhaps much more than in other industries, surprisingly enough, there was an increasing awareness of environmental pressures. Now a lot of that came from California, that California had the first emissions control regulations really specifically aimed at cars. And that really started in the late 1950s and was specifically originated in the Los Angeles area. Have you been to L.A.?

Speaker2: [00:08:53] I have. Yeah.

Speaker1: [00:08:55] It’s it’s a funny place, but historically, I mean, you probably know about the tar pits and things like that, La Brea Tar Pits and things like that. That area where they built the city of Los Angeles is actually full of tar oil and stuff like that. So even when the Chumash Indians were about it was known as a place with bad air to build a massive city on it, stick it full of cars and trucks, have a massive port with ships, and obviously it’s going to be one of the first places in the world to hit this problem. And as you know, it’s it’s it’s got the sea on one side. It’s got mountains essentially all the way around. So it’s this basin that holds bad air, basically. So California’s spotted this quite early on because they were one of the first motorized parts of the world as well because relatively they were relatively well off. So I’ve got this book written by somebody in Santa Barbara, actually, I bought it in Santa Barbara, California. That actually traces the history of that. And people first notices notice differences in air quality from about the 1940s onwards saying, well, when I moved to L.A., there was blue sky and now it’s just brown. Why is that? And so they started to look into it, and therefore they were the first to really start to suggest that cars were the problem now because they were before federal legislation, they are still even today allowed to legislate separately from federal legislation, from the Trump administration.

Speaker1: [00:10:30] Tried to stop that, but it didn’t quite work. So. California regulations will be created by the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento. And. Now, a number of other states also follow that. I mean, in the 1990s, a number of states decided, oh, we want what, California or we have our own rules. So the federal government said, well, all right, you can either follow federal legislation or you can follow California legislation, but nothing else. So it probably about 20 or 30 states now that also follow California regulations. So they’ve become quite important. Now, we first spotted this in well, in the early 1990s, by which time I had joined Cardiff Business School, Cardiff, Cardiff University Business School, Cardiff Business School at that stage had a centre for automotive industry research, and I was recruited into that basically as one of the researchers initially. So I because I had already been studying the car industry from an environmental perspective in, in my consultancy days, I brought that environmental perspective with me and with it. I also brought my first book, which published in 1992, The Green Car Guide. It’s called Have I Got? Yes, yes, I have got a copy I can show you.

Speaker2: [00:11:56] Amazing.

Speaker1: [00:11:57] So I wrote that with two colleagues from my consultancy Days. But it was very early then at that stage, very, very few studies like that available anywhere spotted the California Air Resources Board were the key to it all, at least for emissions legislation, air quality legislation. So we started to visit them, contact them and things like that. So a lot of our sort of work was really going to Sacramento talking to the California Air Resources Board and then coming back to Europe and say, you know what’s going to happen? And they thought we were great visionaries because they hadn’t twigged this. So that was all good fun. But one thing we found all the way along, which was also very difficult to sell to our academic bosses, is that the car industry was actually aware of this thing from a very early stage, and even though they may not have acted accordingly, they knew what was coming and they had people in place who could deal with these technologies and things like that. So we then also said, listen, the impact of the car is not just tailpipe emissions, it’s much broader. And that’s also covered in that little book, The Green Car Guide, where we explore. There are other things you have to think about. So really during the 1990s, I started to pursue those different strands of activity because it was quite clear that states that the tailpipe emissions thing was sort of under control.

Speaker1: [00:13:31] It was a subject to a legislative trajectory, but the other things were not. And one of the areas was, for example, product durability. So I was one of the first to sort of emphasize this, this, this this habit we have of throwing away a car after 15 years is really stupid. So I started to do some research in that area as well, and that was picked up by some people at the time, including one guy at the New Economic Foundation here in the UK who have done similar work on white goods. And so we organized sort of a few workshops together where he did the sort of wide goods, consumer goods, and I did cars and things like that. And I’m still occasionally in touch with him. He’s now at the university, both at Nottingham Trent University now still doing similar work and getting it funded. So that’s one one of the things another thing we said, well, one of the problems of the car industry is essentially overproduction. And this is also the reason why cars are thrown away after 15 years, because cars are sort of pushed into the system at the front, making cars prematurely obsolete, and therefore people get rid of them.

Speaker1: [00:14:44] So we then started to get why are the production volumes as they are? And at that stage, me and my colleague Peter Wells, who I should mention who I did a lot of joint work with, I don’t know if you’ve come across his name. Yeah, we did that. We did that work closely together. We started to look into where those economies of scale came from. We were both within the economic section of the business school at the time, and economists just seem to think economies of scale were economies of scale. But once we started digging, we we realized that’s not the case. It’s dependent on the technologies you use and the technology that the car industry uses that forces the economies of scale is the all steel body. You know, cars consist of basically a welded steel box. That is where the high investment is. And this was quite novel work. So we spent a lot of time on the history of mass production going into sort of stuffy libraries in the US and things like that. Looking through contemporary sources from 1910 to 1915 and things like that, and discovered this chap, Edward Budd, in fact, I was aware of him, but he developed the the all steel welded body. This is around 1912, 1914, so about the same time that Ford developed the moving production line.

Speaker1: [00:16:10] Now, we also discovered Ford did not mass produce cars. The Model T was essentially a running chassis. So it was a car without a body. Because if you go back historically, people saw the car as a mechanical device and then you took it to your coachbuilder and he he would put a body on it. That’s how it was thought of. Whereas nowadays if you go into a car factory, I don’t know if you’ve been. Probably not. All you see basically is is bits of steel being stamped welded into bodies, then the body being painted and things. And then some people come around to put seats in it and wheels on it and stuff like that, engines in it. But that was a key innovation. So we then discovered that this transition from the way Ford made cars, which is basically looking at how cars were in, say, 1905 and production using that to the way cars are made today. That was the crucial step. And it was Budd who was crucial, was key in that. And that really rolls out in the twenties and thirties and even beyond that. But the problem is because it’s such high, such a capital intensive technology, it forces those economies of scale. So as a result, a modern car plant, it’s break even point for a mass produced model is between 180,000 and 200,000 a year.

Speaker1: [00:17:35] The moment you fall below that, unless you’re a specialist producer, you begin to lose money. So your only option is to produce at that level and then sell. So they’re forced to move it in. So once we discovered this in the 1990s and we published about that, it’s all in the public domain. We then say, Well, that is where your problem is. If you get rid of that technology, then you can go for lower economies of scale and therefore you’re not forced to produce in those high volumes. You can then produce cars that can last longer and perhaps create a different business model whereby you produce the car and then you keep it in the market, you maintain it in the market and just keep it going. That’s even not even looking at the circular economy side, but looking at the vehicle in use. So then we fortunately in the UK this country is stuffed with low volume car makers, right? So we did the rounds of them and then also went into Germany and Italy where you also got low volume car production. And we started to work with some of them. We did some work with Lotus, did a lot of work with Morgan. I don’t know if you’ve heard of. Have you heard of any of these companies?

Speaker2: [00:18:44] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean.

Speaker1: [00:18:47] You know, Morgan makes Morgan makes a 1930 style car. It looks like that. Yeah. So we I was on a on a on a government advisory committee together with Charles Morgan. So I got to know him quite well. And he brought us in to do a lot of the work for him and also explained to his financial backers how his business model was completely different from that of the Fords and General Motors and things which he found very helpful at the time. He has since been kicked out of the out of the company, but still. So that was very interesting work. And then we got to understand how you can actually make cars in lower volumes and things like that. So we published on that. We published what turns out to have been quite an influential paper, not in academic circles, but in industry circles in 2000, whereby we proposed a new alternative business model that was really based on low volume manufacturer, a fracturing localised to to its market and then combined with a sales and maintenance model. So it’s called micro factory retail whereby you have small industrial units that assemble cars and also the customer buy straight from those assembly facilities. They can specify the car to their needs, local suppliers can feed into it. And it means that if demand for new cars sort of declines, the company can deal with maintenance, repair, upgrading, recycling, etc., etc., etc… Now, that was picked up by a number of people around the world, including local motors. So we’ve heard of them in the US. They use the what do you call it, a sort of a crowdfunding model whereby people can chip in and essentially design their own car using a centralised piece of basic software that they can help configure. But more interestingly, locally, we were approached by a guy called Hugo Powers.

Speaker1: [00:20:53] He’s one of the cleverest people I’ve ever met. He’s far too clever to to be successful. Anyway, he has set up since then a company called Simple, which you may not have heard of. It’s based here in Wales. A simple one word. Yeah. Just Googled them. They have a nice website and they may be worth talking to. Although being a small business, they’re very busy. He picked up this idea because he could see that ideas he had already been forming would fit quite nicely with this business model. So he got some backing from members of the Percy family and some other people. And he’s developed a small hydrogen fuel cell car. That is essentially I mean, he’s just beginning. It’s just that he’s building a fleet of 50 cars that are going to be placed with people in the local area. His business model is based on the sort of leasing. So a product service system, really. So you lease the car, then the company takes them back, reconfigures them for the next customer and things like that. They do all the repair and maintenance that’s needed. One of his arguments was that when you look at the fuel cell cars that the industry does, and certainly Toyota and Hyundai and Korea, Korea who produce commercial fuel cell cars, they said they can figure there’s a big American car that makes you feel so very big. But he said you can get small off the shelf fuel cells for next to nothing. So if you just configure a very lightweight small car around that, your whole car is much cheaper. So that’s what he’s done. So it’s a very lightweight little car and it does everything you need it to do with it. So have.

Speaker2: [00:22:43] The smaller, more localized companies like the river sample, but also the local motors. And and in the.

Speaker1: [00:22:49] Us.

Speaker2: [00:22:51] It’s obviously both of them are very localized businesses, right. Because if you need to have like maintenance done or anything, you need to be near that location just like specifying this, because I can imagine that this would as well be sort of a limiting factor for, for example, other parts of the world, right?

Speaker1: [00:23:11] Yeah. Yes, it does. And how you do it, Gordon Murray, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Gordon Murray. He he designed the first carbon fiber monocoque Formula One car. So he for people into Formula One, he sits next to God and Gordon Murray has set up his business because after a while he said after about 20 years of doing racing cars, he said, I’ve done that. He also did a road car, the McLaren F1, which is supposed to be the best supercar ever made. Now I’ve never driven one, can’t afford one. But yes, he he has an enormous prestige in the car industry. Anyway, he decided that around 2000 really had done that and now he wanted to do more environmental car design. So he also came to us and also picked up on the micro factory retailing idea and developed it himself. And his model is really that he develops concepts including the manufacturing concept and the product that can then be placed around the world. So you would have a network of factories, and that’s also how we envisage the micro factory retailing concept. So not everybody needs to do the design. The basic design is something that’s modularized and the factory is modularized, but then you can configure it locally for local tastes and to allow local suppliers to come in and things. And I can send you a copy of the paper if you actually I did a summary a couple of years ago for a journal that I can send you on a micro factory retailing concept. Yeah.

Speaker2: [00:24:53] Okay. So there’s a lot of very interesting things you already mentioned, I. I was wondering if you could go in a little bit more about what you were mentioning? Was the project your durability?

Speaker1: [00:25:07] Yeah.

Speaker2: [00:25:08] This is something. So one of the things that we were looking at and also like in communities that we think might know or even though they might not know, it’s it’s like a circular economy related or whatever, like communities that might find things like that useful for them. Or for example, off road, off road communities, people who take their cars out in the middle of nowhere that needs as it is not part of your ability, but maybe also flexibility. Maybe you have something to to share on that topic on like the ability to. Make a fixture by yourself without the need to go into like an expensive mechanic or a specialized mechanic, because currently with a lot of the especially the mass produced cars and I’m assuming as well with these localized businesses, is that the knowledge about how to fix them is very specialized and often specialized. Even specialized computers are needed to to run checks and to see what’s like the error code. Right. So maybe you could go a little bit more into depth on that specific topic.

Speaker1: [00:26:16] But on the last point, I mean, with the transition to electric vehicles, the vehicle technology will actually become simpler than with internal combustion engine. So so that is an advantage. And you don’t need stuff like emissions control, which of course is where a lot of the engine management computer work comes in. Now, going back to the durability thing, I mean, as you will be aware, most of most of humanity has been doing product durability for thousands of years. We didn’t we didn’t have a throwaway society that sort of has developed in the last 100 years or so. And if you look at what Henry Ford said, I mean, I quote him frequently, he was a fascist. But still, Henry Ford said when he sold the Model T, I want demand because women were supposed to buy cars. Of course, the man who buys one never to have to buy another. So he envisaged that if you bought your Model C, you would keep it for life, you see. So and there was a whole aftermarket industry, especially in the US that supply bits for it. So if your Model T was too basic and they were very basic, you could add all sorts of stuff to it. And a lot of that stuff was designed by ordinary drivers, ordinary citizens, small scale inventors and things like that.

Speaker1: [00:27:32] Now I describe this to some extent in my 2014 book plug. What happened in the 1920s and thirties is a gradual professionalization of the car and the car industry, whereby the car industry decided We don’t want all these people tinkering with our products. We we want to control the whole thing and the extreme. It has now taken an extreme form in Tesla. Tesla has a total control system to the extent that if you start fiddling around with a Tesla, a voice will come out of the car and say, What are you doing to our cars? But we have long advocated the sort of hands on thing for various reasons. But product durability is not just the technological issue, it’s also a psychological issue. You have to be able to build up a relationship with the product to to look after it and to make it last a long time. So I’ve I’ve done some papers on the classic car movement. I’m a classic car owner myself. In fact, my classic car is it’s a Dutch duff. It does 55 coupe, of which there are very few in this country. And I’m also the chairman of the DAF Owners Club in this country.

Speaker2: [00:28:53] So I’m wondering how many members you have?

Speaker1: [00:28:58] 100.

Speaker2: [00:28:59] A hundreds.

Speaker1: [00:29:01] Hundreds? Yeah, yeah. It goes up and down, but around 100 and some people have more than one DAF and some people have half a dozen. So what interests me about apart from being part of it myself, but classic car thing here you get people who take essentially an old banger and just keep it going, spend money on it, and lavish a lot of love and attention on it just to keep it going. Because my Duff, 55, was designed for a working life of ten years and it’s we’re 50 years old now and it’s still roadworthy. It passed its its periodic test, the mode, as we call it in Britain a few weeks ago and things like that. So you can’t actually do these things. There is a guy in Switzerland who has published a lot on this sort of thing. He runs a I think.

Speaker2: [00:29:54] I’m terribly sorry, but my seven year old son is called.

Speaker1: [00:29:58] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. First things first.

Speaker2: [00:30:01] They. Now. Mommy is in the world right now. Okay? You have to be quiet so we can go back to. To remember if you want.

Speaker1: [00:30:16] Your.

Speaker2: [00:30:17] Mommy.

Speaker1: [00:30:21] Sorry.

Speaker2: [00:30:23] Usually. We?

Speaker1: [00:30:33] I.

Speaker2: [00:30:43] Yeah. Or you can watch. It sends them to the neighbors, but of course, they will come back right at the moment that you’re in the middle of a work thing.

Speaker1: [00:31:02] Oh, yeah, I’ve actually been there. Okay. Yeah. For the last 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time working at home. And of course, 20 years ago, my kids were a lot younger. They’ve now gone.

Speaker2: [00:31:14] Yeah. I’ve worked from home since he was born. But then with COVID, it was so much harder, of course. And now it’s summer holidays, so. Okay, so we were talking about the the classic art movement, right? And how a lot of money and attention and effort is spent into keeping these old. Not even to actually last as long. And I think the psychological part is is extremely is extremely interesting.

Speaker1: [00:31:43] Yeah. And again, I’ve published on that. I mean, if you’re interested in I can send you papers, but I don’t know how much background reading you have time to do.

Speaker2: [00:31:51] I don’t know either. But it will be great to have and I can always just also share with some other people who would be potentially interested. Right. We’re like.

Speaker1: [00:32:01] You may have to remind me in an email which bits I said I would send you.

Speaker2: [00:32:05] Okay. Okay. Well, I’ve, I’ve made my notations, so. Yeah.

Speaker1: [00:32:09] Yeah. Anyway. You have the classical movement, which I thought could form a model for future more durable car. So experiences car consumption, if you like. But that does mean that the manufacturer need to need to give up some of their control frequency. And that is going to be a real challenge. But I do notice that all over the world, sort of freedom to tinker legislation is popping up for various sectors. I think that’s something that started in Massachusetts. But also I think the European Union has been talking about that recently that consumers will have will be given an inherent right to do things to the to the products once they’ve bought them. Now, this is where a slight problem comes in, because the environmental movement often advocates a product surface system approach whereby the end user doesn’t own the product, but it’s managed by the manufacturer or a management company. But that, of course means that you would have less ownership of the product and less of that bond. Well, within an ownership model, it’s easier to build that bond. So that is something that needs to be resolved in some way. You can probably run both side by side. I mean, one of the PhD students that Tim Cooper at Nottingham, Trent, the guy I mentioned earlier, although I didn’t mention his name, one of his PhD students worked on this Portuguese chap. I’ve forgotten his name, but I could dig it out. He said that one of the things a better product surface system. You can have more intensive use of a product if you think of car sharing schemes, for example, car clubs, that sort of thing.

Speaker1: [00:34:02] And he said, So you do in fact get the intensive life out of the product that in a shorter time period, then with the ownership model, you might get an intensive, you will get that life out of it, but it will just take longer. The only problem is if we are thinking of circular economy is controlling that waste stream because if you have a very intensively used product, you still have a fast waste stream and you need to to work out how to deal with that. Whereas with a personal ownership model, you could your waste stream can be delayed. So if a car lost 30 years instead of 15, that sort of delays the waste stream quite a bit and also some work done by Polish in the 1970s on behalf of the. The German government on assessing how long a car could be made to last by using different materials and things. If you approach Prussia now, they deny all knowledge of it. But I have a copy and I’ve referenced it in a lot of my work because they reckon that with minor improvements a car can easily be made and the 1970s technology car can easily be made to last 25 to 30 years. And in fact, with a lot of those improvements have been introduced subsequently, it’s like galvanized bodies. For example, Audi introduced a whole lot of medium bodies, which is also advocated by Persia in that study and things like that. So stuff like that.

Speaker2: [00:35:37] Yeah. A personal anecdote in there. So I live in over a decade now and as you may imagine that the car. Environment here is actually most people. I mean, there’s, of course, a lot of new courses or newer cars, but no one buys cars new completely. Most cars are imported from those states, as you know, the insurance system in the states. So that give car insurance and you break your car, your insurer will pay for the full amount that your car is worth and then auctioned off. And so percent of the cars are imported here with some damages and then they’re being fixed up and then they’re being sold to the local market and to the regional markets of Central Asia. But the I would say most people I think, like, you know, that’s like sort of like middle class, the age of their cars is going to be between 15 and 25 years.

Speaker1: [00:36:40] Old.

Speaker2: [00:36:42] Or older. So if you go to a lower class, you have easily 30, 35 year old cars and they’re just being kept running, especially the older ones. I’m not sure how they’re doing it, but like the mechanics will find solutions for basically everything. I guess I’m feeling that with the older cars it’s easier for mechanics to find solutions than it is with the more newer cars because the parts are more specialized. But anyway, so this is like a I just wanted to give that anecdote in as well because when it comes to durability of the cars, I think if you look at countries like this, you can see that durability of cars can actually be really, really, really long. But of course, having a car here fixed is much cheaper because the. The mechanics don’t charge a lot of salary. I had my car recently and my brakes had to be. Completely fixed. The disks were.

Speaker1: [00:37:40] Warped.

Speaker2: [00:37:42] Yeah, completely. And I paid for my front brakes. Both the disks and the. Yes, the parts. Thank you. I had everything changed around and I paid. For both for the parts and for the work. €40.

Speaker1: [00:38:06] Right? Well, interestingly enough, that’s very interesting. I wasn’t aware of that in Georgia. But we also did a study about 20 years ago about the flows of used cars around the world. We did go to the US, but we found flows from there to the Middle East, mainly of sort of Lincoln Town cars and stuff like that. But the most interesting flow we found was from Japan. In Japan, again, it’s not the insurance thing, but they have a very strict periodic, periodic testing regime. Essentially, after five years, you have to completely rebuild your braking system and things like that. And cars are expensive to repair in Japan, but cheap to buy. So a lot of people decide after five or seven years they’ll just buy a new car and there’s old cars that are shipped off somewhere. Now, the biggest market for those is New Zealand. Now, New Zealand deports between 120 and 150,000 used Japanese cars every year. And again, most ordinary New Zealanders drive those used Japanese cars and just keep them going, which is very well made. And some flows go also from there into East Africa and places like that into the Caribbean. And then we found just starting about 20 years ago, a similar flow from South Korea into Russia via Vladivostok. I mean, you could actually see fishing boats from Russia with sort of several cars piled on the deck. So they’re going off and offloading them there and selling there at great profit. So yeah, the first few cars around the world are very interesting and I think we are probably among the few who have done published work on that in that area.

Speaker2: [00:39:53] No, it’s easier. You actually mentioned Japan because Georgia used to Japan was also a large stream of cars coming from Japan. But the Georgian government changed their laws on which.

Speaker1: [00:40:09] Steering wheel on the wrong side.

Speaker2: [00:40:11] Both sides were allowed and I think four years ago they changed it like you were not allowed to buy a car with your wheel on the other sides. So it’s slowly phased out. Now you hardly see them anymore. And it was.

Speaker1: [00:40:28] Korea.

Speaker2: [00:40:30] Yeah, yeah. Well, I guess I guess of all the companies that are here are really, really mostly focused on the states. Again, because the auction system is just it’s so easy to buy like a car that has like minimal damage for a discount because again, the cost here to fix them up is so cheap. Labor is so.

Speaker1: [00:40:51] Cheap. It’s really. Yeah.

Speaker2: [00:40:54] Yeah. So yeah. Look, if you want, I have some context here in the art world that can get you in touch with. Yeah. So that was like that was like just again when we’re talking about durability, that just came to mind because. And then your Japan comment was also very interesting in terms of like when the requirements are so high in terms of like. Technical inspection. Of course, it’s done also to protect the common. You think so? What about. What about. What about safety?

Speaker1: [00:41:31] No, it’s purely to protect the domestic car manufacturers. That’s that’s the main driver. And that’s also why the German, too, is quite strict. And why in Germany you can’t really modify cars. There’s all sorts of restrictions like it specified what sort of alloy wheels you can fit to your cars in Germany, whereas here for example, you can stick anything on your light. So yes, you need a lot of that sort of legislation is driven by the car manufacturers under the guise of safety, but has very little to do with safety.

Speaker2: [00:42:05] So I definitely wasn’t aware of this. So this is for me personally, for.

Speaker1: [00:42:09] Me to be an industry insider. Okay.

Speaker2: [00:42:15] Okay. So that is very interesting. And of course, the car I can imagine also that the car manufacturing lobby is quite strong and yeah. Money to spend as well.

Speaker1: [00:42:28] Yeah. Car manufacturing is the world’s largest manufacturing industry still. And of course, as you will be aware, it’s bigger in some countries than in others, especially in countries like Japan and Germany. But also the US has quite a strong car lobby and a very strong car union. The United Auto Workers in the US can put a lot of pressure on the government, for example, to stop car makers from producing in Mexico and things like that. And then metal in Germany, which which is the union also for the car industry, not just for the metal industry, is Europe’s most powerful union. So, yes, unions and car makers in tandem sort of determine a lot of that sort of thing.

Speaker2: [00:43:14] That is very interesting. I’m going to stick to my notes. Thanks. You.

Speaker1: [00:43:19] Yeah. We haven’t said that much about the circular economy yet.

Speaker2: [00:43:23] Yeah. No, and that’s also I mean, that is that is fine. It doesn’t have to necessarily 100% cover the circular economy. It just would like to start the debate going. I was thinking about the. Well, the overproduction we. Let’s let’s let’s just hop into more to the circular economy part of. So what specific things if you research we did talk about it a little bit right when we were saying you were mentioning the the two different streams. When you talk about sustainability, one is like our ownership and the other one is like the leasing system. What else would you like to share it if you believe it’s important for people to think about or to push for or.

Speaker1: [00:44:06] Well, we have a short chapter in our latest book, which was published a couple of years ago, where we sort of review some of it. But when we first came, Peter and I first came across the circular economy thing in the 1990. So there’s one thing that struck us because this coincided with the work we were doing on looking at alternatives for mass production. And it occurred to us that the circular economy model assumed a sort of static technology situation. So of course steel from which most cars are made is very recyclable. But if you don’t build a circular economy system around that, that assumes your car are made of steel. And just at the time that we were doing this work, alternative materials were coming into cars. You had things like the Renault Espace and I don’t know if you remember it, but now it has essentially galvanised steel framework onto which there are plastic panels. Right. So it’s a mixed technology. And I also mentioned the aluminium Audi’s Jaguar also makes largely aluminium. A lot of companies now make aluminium cars. Now aluminum is also recyclable, but that means that you then need to find demand for both the steel and the aluminium. Then you get an awful technologies like the BMW i3. We spent some time with BMW looking at how the i3 is made. I don’t know if you know the i3.

Speaker1: [00:45:34] It’s a little BMW electric car. It’s built on an aluminium platform and then it has a carbon fibre superstructure. Now carbon fibre is a bugger to recycle. The only thing you can do really, is to grind it down and use the powder you get as a filler for other products. Now, the Mini was, of course, perfectly recyclable. On the other hand, a structure like that of the BMW i3 should last 40 or 50 years without too much problem. Right. So you get those all those trade offs. Now, another thing is we’re in the middle of a transition from internal combustion engines to electric motors. So internal combustion engines produce a lot of work in the engine is called coarse engine blocks and things are stuff you can melt down and turn into new. Castings either out of cast iron or aluminium, but. You’ve got that input. Do you necessarily have a demand for whatever it produces? So that’s why another thing we flagged up is how do you understand your circular economy? Do you? Do you? I have the circularity within one product, within one product, one in one industry, within one sector, within a locality, within a region. I mean, what how does your circularity work? Because at the moment, a lot of the recyclers from various industries end up in other kinds of products, like old tires, end up in playground sort of rubble, things like that.

Speaker1: [00:47:18] But from talking to the people who promote the circular economy concept, the loops are much closer. And so that is something I have not seen fully discussed or fully resolved. So that’s something else we flagged up. Let me get the book and see what else. There are three points we mentioned specifically. Yes. I mean, the first point is that close loop homes in on reuse and recycle. Well, overusing. Well, overlooking the most important to reduce. We’ve covered that sufficiently, I think, in discussion. And then the other one is creating a static system whereby material innovations are discouraged because you put new stuff in. Like lithium, for example, is a classic now with lithium batteries. But if you then if you then change the battery technology to to other ones and there are lots of other technologies in the pipeline, what do you do with all the waste lithium from the older batteries, from current crop of cars? How do you how do you accommodate that? These things can all be done, but you need to be prepared for this. Those things. What level? Yeah. This refers to the waste hierarchy. Have you have you come at the waste hierarchy to sort of reduce, reuse, recycle sort of thing? Just Google waste hierarchy and it will pop up. It’s widely used in our area, really. And then this final point, the third point is the one I just made is what is your the area within which you.

Speaker1: [00:49:03] Which loop operates. So it says a closed loop tends to be too vague as to whether the loop should be closed within a single product type, e.g. mobile phones, computers, cars within one sector, e.g. construction or within one economy. And if so, is that a local, regional or national economy? So those are our main three areas of concern about the closed loop economy. And when we first looked at it in 1990, it had not been addressed. And I’ve been to some conferences in recent years, as have some of my co-authors on this book, and we’ve still not seen people discuss that in any detail. So at the moment, the concept is still too theoretical to conceptual, and yet now is the time when we really need to get to the nuts and bolts of how we’re going to do this. And we I mean, the data is coming through. I mean, one of my former PhD students is involved in the car battery recycling programs and things like that. So the information is coming out of what sort of material flows will be produced in the future, how they are different from existing material flows and stuff like that. But we really I mean, within the circular economy community, these things really need to be addressed.

Speaker2: [00:50:21] So it really is then sort of a gap where.

Speaker1: [00:50:26] They can see. I mean, it’s possible that in my absence something has happened behind my back. I don’t know.

Speaker2: [00:50:33] Like I said, I did a bit of desk research and not too much came up. So to be honest, again, I am not doing the academic research myself on it, but in terms of looking to people to talk.

Speaker1: [00:50:50] My other one of my co-authors on this book. This is the most recent one and public. She’s still an active academic. I’m technically retired from academia. And she also said she hadn’t come across anything. And she’s actually been to some recent conferences. So there we go. I think that stands. I can I can send you that little chapter. It’s only a few pages.

Speaker2: [00:51:15] Yeah. So there’s this is a chapter from. From which book of yours.

Speaker1: [00:51:20] Which which it’s it’s snappily titled Sustainable Consumption Production and Supply Chain Management.

Speaker2: [00:51:32] And so I know what to write you.

Speaker1: [00:51:40] So that’s. You see, when that was published. 2021.

Speaker2: [00:51:51] Very recent. Very recent.

Speaker1: [00:51:53] That is my most recent book.

Speaker2: [00:51:56] Okay, great. Is there anything else you would like to share or anything else you think?

Speaker1: [00:52:02] I should probably. I can talk. Talk about this for weeks. So it’s really easier if you ask specifically. But it is definitely true that Peter and I are probably within academic circles, the foremost experts in in the whole sustainable car world. Well, I mean, we used to be advising the OECD and things like that, and they would get us all together and said, Oh, you’re among the 50 top experts in this field. The others were mainly from consultancy companies or car companies and things like that. So we were really the only academics. So if you talk to Peter or myself, Peter is still active east. He’s younger than me, so he’s not retired. Although I’m retired from academia, I’m not retired from research, so I still do various projects and things like that. I managed to get rid of all the boring stuff.

Speaker2: [00:53:00] Nice. Well, I just have like. I think this is like a really good sort of introduction into and I think like a really nice sort of article out of this that sort of like gets conversation going. I’m also wondering if it would be okay if I reached out to you at a later stage?

Speaker1: [00:53:16] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, I’m happy to talk about these things because there are not enough people interested in it.

Speaker2: [00:53:23] Oh, that’s great. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I also probably would like to I mean, I’ll have to discuss this with my my team as well in terms of how many experts interviews we want, because it’s mostly about really like sort of like grassroots having people that are into cars start talking about the idea of like the economy and sustainability. But we definitely do want to have some expert voices, of course, to. To build awareness and to have that, you know, an understanding of what’s all involves. So, yeah, if that’s okay with you, I definitely would like to reach out to.

Speaker1: [00:53:58] No problem at all. But yes, it would be very interesting to find out to what extent raise public awareness of this issue.

Speaker2: [00:54:05] So far, my colleague has been going to a lot of car shows in the Bay Area and asking these questions. And so far it was a bit not not I would say not disappointing. Yes, but not.

Speaker1: [00:54:22] Surprising. No, no, no try.

Speaker2: [00:54:25] Yeah. Yeah. So. But people were interested once they found out more about it, to learn a bit more about it. So it wasn’t like. But yet the people who went to the car shows were not necessarily people who are in this sustainability and circular economy circles. So that’s why I definitely would like to have also an event on this topic.

Speaker1: [00:54:44] I think. I think that’s that’s again, where I think the work that Peter and I did was interesting because both Peter and I are also environmentalists. Yeah, but also when you go around the car world, you do find that actually far more people who are environmentally aware in the industry and in the organisations around the industry than you might think. Yeah. Probably more than among ordinary users. Now, there are some countries, as you may be aware, that are actively promoting the closed loop thing, like Sweden, for example. So it would be interesting to find out if in Sweden there is more sort of consumer awareness of this issue among car owners, car users. And Sweden also has a has a thriving classic car community.

Speaker2: [00:55:30] Although Tesla is also very popular in Sweden and the Scandinavian.

Speaker1: [00:55:35] In Norway, in particular in Norway. So yeah, it would be interesting to do all three Scandinavian countries if you have the resources.

Speaker2: [00:55:45] It’s a small project that we’re having. It is a two year project, but the budget we’re having is it’s not massive unfortunately. But this is definitely we have some people in Sweden, so we can send some people out on the streets.

Speaker1: [00:55:56] Like this is I think if you’re networked properly, you can send people locally to do things. That’s how we’ve often worked as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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