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Car manufacturers 'need to plan for car-less cities'

Tackling the pollution and congestion problems of global cities as they expand will be as important to carmakers as it is to city planners and governments, says Dr Robin Daniels, chief executive of smart mobility experts, Magma Innovations.

"Cities around the world make announcements, almost weekly, describing their strategy to eliminate the car from their central avenues and streets.

"In December Madrid announced that 24 major streets are to be 'radically overhauled', with car lanes removed, bike lanes added and trees planted to make them cool and shady," explains Daniels, adding that this will lead to a new hierarchy in which pedestrians come first, then public transport, then bikes, then cars.

"Overall, 66 per cent of the affected street surface in Madrid will be given over to people on foot.

"Meanwhile the automotive OEMs are, by their own admission, struggling to define their role in these integrated and connected cities of the future."

Daniels highlighted the issues facing the industry after comments by Ford CEO Alan Mulally during this month's Detroit Motor Show in which he said that Ford would look to play a bigger role in public transport vehicles and integrated transport solutions.

Daniel said: "While Ford's own role is far from clear, Mulally said that more cars are certainly not the answer to cities' problems of pollution, congestion and the associated economic impact.

"A combination of legislation, public opinion and hard commercial realities will mean that only those car companies who tackle this head-on, will survive in anything like their current form.

"Those car companies who recognise that they have a potential role in the provision and delivery of transport as a service and in mixed-use, multi-modal solutions, will come out on top. It's not simply about protecting their current position, but leading the way in the multi-trillion dollar global future-cities sector."

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