Motorization Growth Reveals Huge Differences

Motorization is increasing everywhere in the World but differences are huge. In the United States 9 out of 10 trips are made by MFD compared to an average of less than 10 percent in the developing World, but many of the poorer countries are catching up fast.

Nearly 90 percent of all trips in the United States are made by automobile, according to the Mobility 2001 report recently issued by the WBCSD. The US level contrasts dramatically with the 50 percent auto trip share in Western Europe and even more so with the situation in the developing World. Walking or bicycling accounts for more than half of all trips made in a number of Indian cities, and 60 to 90 percent of all trips in many Chinese cities.

However, the picture is significantly varied throughout the developing World. By 1996, the average motorization rate in the developing countries was about 30 vehicles per thousand people, with the majority having less than 50 vehicles per 1,000 people. Over a dozen wealthier countries, such as Malaysia, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Panama, Uruguay, Thailand and Belarus, had exceeded the motorization rate of 100 vehicles per 1,000 people. Lower-income countries, on the other hand, have only one-tenth the per capita fleet level. This is compared to a rate of 400 vehicles or more per 1,000 people in the developed World.

Over the spectrum of the motorization rates in the developing countries, the Latin American countries are largely at the higherend (average of 80 vehicles per 1,000 people), the African countries are at the lower end (average of 20), and the Asian countries fall in between (40).

The motorization rate is growing at a tremendous speed throughout the developing World. Motorization rates are typically at the same level as of Europe in the 1950s and 1960s and growing at similar rates. The vehicle ownership increases roughly in step with income growth per capita income explains 70% to 80% of a nations motorization rate, according to the Mobility 2001 report. In a country such as China the vehicle fleet is increasing at 15% a year, automobiles by 25% a year. Projections suggest that todays fleet of roughly speaking 300 million vehicles in the World outside OECD will by 2030 have grown to around 800 million vehicles. According to the same prediction, the number of vehicles in OECD countries will rise from nearly 600 million vehicles today to more than 800 million in 2030.

In the short run, motorization provides improved individual mobility, but the rapid pace often overwhelms infrastructure, with high congestion levels and severe system imbalances as results. The mobility infrastructure in the developing World is already at an unacceptable level, and deteriorating, according to the report.