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Bill Ford at TED 2011: The Issue of Global Gridlock

Bill Ford at TED 2011: The Issue of Global Gridlock thumbnail

Bill Ford believes sustainability is the biggest issue facing business in the 21st century. While breakthroughs made in recent years have made him confident that technology will provide a solution to the CO2 challenge, another issue – “Global Gridlock” – is quietly taking its place.

The problem can be defined by numbers. The world’s population is growing and is becoming more affluent. There are approximately 6.8 billion people in the world today. Within our lifetime, that number will approach 9 billion. Today, there are about 800 million vehicles on the road worldwide but by mid-century that number could grow to between 2 and 4 billion.

If we continue to follow the personal mobility model that is now in place the world’s roads are going to become too crowded. Commutes will become longer; traffic jams will become larger and more ubiquitous. Economic opportunity will be stifled. More time and resources will be squandered while people try to get from point A to point B. This all threatens the promises of both physical and social mobility which in turn lessens opportunities to improve the world’s standards of living.

There’s no single answer to this new threat to our mobility, and it isn’t going to be solved by one person or group. It’s going to take corporations, entrepreneurs, NGOs, universities, governments and other interested parties all working together to build a global, interconnected system of transportation and mobility solutions. Smart businesses, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will see this as a tremendous opportunity and a job creator.

Cars, of course, will always be a major mobility enabler, but they will need to better work in harmony with other cars and other forms of transportation. We need smart cars and smart infrastructure that communicate and use real-time data to maximize their efficiency. We also need to tie in innovative solutions like new, ground up development models (city of Masdar), traffic management (34th St. in Manhattan) and smart parking. The good news is that progress is being made on all of these fronts.

At Ford, we are rapidly expanding our commitment to intelligent cars that can wirelessly talk to each other to help make driving safer, more efficient and more enjoyable. We’re doubling our intelligent vehicle investment in 2011, and we’ve initiated a new 20-member task force of scientists and engineers to explore the technology’s broader possibilities.

Just as we all embraced the green energy challenge, we must now start attacking global gridlock with the same passion. We are starting to make progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.


5 Comments on "Bill Ford at TED 2011: The Issue of Global Gridlock"

  1. DC on Sat, 25th Jun 2011 11:02 pm 

    Wow this is comedy gold! Cars are sustainable-hahah. Corporations are part of the solution!-omg, they ARE the problem, GM, Ford, all of them. They are the ones that lobbied ceaslessly on behalf of the oil companies, for massive higways, they bribed city officals decades ago to tear up electric mass transit. Laws were set into place, encourgaged by the fossil-fuel cartel that pratically made it illegal for anything BUT suburban sprawl.

    Smart cars? Smart infastructure?, get real. The only ‘smart’ thing to do is ban the sale of all new cars and make it prohibitively expensive for any form of fossil-fueled powered personal transport to exisit. I like that bit at the end about how we all the green energy challenge. Everytime I go outside, all I see is an never-ending stream of stinking gas-powered crap-boxes on an endless quest to get to there favorite big box store. The pitifully few people that are on bikes or walking do so at there peril, as our ‘cars only’ infastrucure is deliberatly designed to make travel by anything other than a car extremely dangerous.

    Since this article is clearly meant for americans, here is something to consider. Amerika cant afford the low-tech cars and low-tech roads you have now. There bankruptting you, as surely as your War-OF-Terror and Gold Plated Military. It follows, that ‘high-tech’ cars and ‘smart road’ are not something you have the money for either. And even if you did, you have more important things to spend in on than an even more complex and expensive system than the one you cant afford now.

    Remember the old joke, if aliens landed today, they would probably assume cars were the dominant life form on Earth. Yes, were allready there.

  2. armageddon51 on Sun, 26th Jun 2011 1:46 am 

    Does M.Ford really think that our crumbling and saturated road system will eventually accommodate 2/4 billions cars ? Really ? Smart cars should be smart enough to tell the driver (and Mr.Ford) … to be more efficient and use “public transportation” instead. Btw I couldn’t find that forbidden term anywhere in his declaration… not surprising.

  3. quadzillajim on Sun, 26th Jun 2011 3:25 am 

    I look forward to the day in the not to distant future when electric cars drive themselves. Less accidents faster commutes.

  4. Grover Lembeck on Sun, 26th Jun 2011 6:36 am 

    “Cars, of course, will always be a major mobility enabler,”

    Of COURSE! From now until the sun goes nova, there will be the cars, enabling mobility. With the help of new, ground up development models, like levittown, which ground up the potato fields of Long Island.

    It’s nice to see an article mention “breakthroughs” and “progress”, though. Don’t see much of that from people with a major controlling interest in a large corporation. Keep on truckin’, William “Bill” Clay Ford, Jr. You’re doing great grandpa proud.

  5. Makati1 on Sun, 26th Jun 2011 7:08 am 

    This s the biggest joke I have heard for a long time. Oil is going the way of the dodo, Natural gas is a blip in the road that will stretch oil’s dying days a bit longer, but nothing else is in the wings that is more than vaporware.

    Just take the million+ miles of paved roads in the US alone. Just to resurface them with a 2″ top coat every 10 years requires 500+ million barrels of oil for the asphalt alone. Double that to cover the fuel for the resurfacing equipment, stone mining, crushing and hauling to the site, labor fuel needs, etc and you are looking at 2 or 3 times that amount. Then there are parking lots, driveways, etc…and let’s not forget the amount of oil to just make a million cars per year to replace the worn out ones. Something like another 50 million barrels.

    Cars are becoming extinct. Personal vehicles will be the first to go. This guy is dreaming and trying to get us to dream with him.

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