Automobility in Brazil, Russia, India, and China: Quo Vadis?

Published in: Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, no. 2451, 2014, p. 10-19

Posted on RAND.org on October 05, 2015

by Tobias Kuhnimhof, Charlene Rohr, Liisa Ecola, Johanna Zmud

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This paper introduces an innovative methodology to answer the question, Toward which levels of automobility are the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) headed? The authors applied this methodology as an aid to understanding why long-term saturation levels for car travel differed across the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study and what this difference meant for the saturation levels that the BRIC countries might attain. This approach factored out development of the gross domestic product (GDP) to focus on the ways in which other factors influenced specific paths of automobility in individual countries. The focus was on this question: Why were the long-term automobility saturation levels so much higher for some countries than for others, even at similar levels of GDP? The methodology drew on quantitative analysis of historical developments in four industrialized countries (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that served as case studies representing prototypical paths of automobility with extremely different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with qualitative data derived from an expert-based approach. The qualitative approach was used to transfer historical experiences about the ways in which (a) automobility evolution was shaped in industrialized countries and (b) these experiences might affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries. On the basis of this analysis, Brazil proved the most car-oriented country of the BRICs, with a potential long-term level of automobility between those of Germany and Australia. Russia was the second most car-oriented country, also with a likely long-term level of automobility above that of Germany. China and India, in contrast, were heading toward lower levels of automobility, below that of Germany but higher than that of Japan.

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