23 July 2009

Demotorization as a Lifestyle Choice

Since the Second World War we've been coining new words at a faster point than at any time in the history of homo sapiens. Advances in technology is the main reason, of course. Once in a while a new word pops up that tickles my fancy.

Demotorization.

A propos the earlier blog about the Audi car advert featuring a bike, Todd sent me a link to this article:

Japanese Auto Sales Decline as Youth Lose Interest

"A lifestyle choice automakers are calling "demotorization," many Japanese youth feel owning a car in a congested and expensive city such as Tokyo is more trouble than its worth, and choose public transportation instead.

TOKYO — In a special report from the Associated Press (AP), AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama notes that many twenty-somethings in Japan aren't interested in owning a car today. A lifestyle choice automakers are calling "demotorization," many Japanese youth feel owning a car in a congested and expensive city such as Tokyo is more trouble than its worth, and choose public transportation instead.

This has many automakers concerned, particularly when adding in the current troubles in the U.S. vehicle market. About half the autos produced in Japan are sold in Japan, while the other half are exported.

According to the report, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association predicts auto sales in Japan will fall to 4.86 million in 2009 — below 5 million for the first time in more than three decades. This year, sales are projected at 5.11 million, the worst since 1980, said the AP report.

Kageyama reports that automakers and dealerships are looking for new ways to appeal to the young Japanese car buyer. For example, signing major league star Ichiro for TV ads and offering colorful vehicle accessories designed to appeal to young Japanese females.
"

Demotorization. A lifestyle choice. Nice. For the record, I'm not anti-car. Cars aren't going to disappear. I'm pro-liveable cities. I prefer the rehumanization of our urban centres and in order to achieve that, cars will need to be restricted in cities. Which is where the bicycle comes in.

The youth of Japan are not only choosing public transport. As this video from Tokyo will attest:

11 comments:

Erik Sandblom said...

Very exciting post! I agree cars aren't going away. Neither are helicopters, tractors or chairlifts. But it does appear to me that cars are going to be used less as all-purpose vehicles and more for specialised applications. A good example is the car sharing scheme you mentioned earlier for going on holiday.

Kim said...

When I gave up my car to go to university in 1994 (I couldn't afford to run a car at Uni), I thought it was a temporary measure and that I would buy a new one once I graduated. Four years later when I graduated I found that I dreaded the prospect of owning a car again, I was so used to the freedom of just having a bicycle. I still haven't bought a car, although I do occasional rent one (maybe once or twice a year). So long as I continue to live in town I don't see my self ever owning a car again. Life is too sweet without...

Kris R said...

I don't remember having to walk more than a mile from public transportation to get to where I was in Tokyo. They have an outstanding subway system. The only two things I didn't like about it were you couldn't bring bicycles on them (not that you'd want to carry it down the 6 flights of stairs anyway) and they stopped running to our hotel pretty early. Other than that, two thumbs up.

Mikael said...

that's why folding bikes are so massive in japan. to take bikes on trains you can fold them and place them in the bag, then you're off.

Melbourne Cyclist said...

Kim - I'm with you. I used to live in the UK, in the middle of nowhere, where owning a car was totally normal (getting to work by public transport: 1h30 minimum; by car: 7 to 9mins). Then I moved to Melbourne, and never quite got around to buying a car (too hard). Then back I went to the UK for a bit, and I really really resented 'having' to buy a car, especially all the extra costs. I rode my bike as much as possible during the summer (25mins to work, 10mins to food shops etc), but stopped when it got dark in the winter - completely unlit 60mph roads where motorists didn't expect to see bikes - not such a good idea. Then I finally moved back to Melbourne, and was so happy about being able to use my bike all the time again; not getting stuck in traffic is great!

I really believe that even people who currently turn their noses up at bikes could get as hooked as me, if they chose to. Although it does sometimes worry me, how grumpy I get if I can't use my bike for a while :-)

Oh, and we hire cars too / hitch rides with friends, whenever we're going on a trip out of Melbourne - we're not anti-car in any way, and it all works out well.

Cully_J said...

Great looking bikes too!

Martin said...

Hey Melbourne Cyclist, do you know about Flexicar? flexicar.com.au
Rent a car by the hour, very reasonable rates. Dozens of cars in the inner north, unfortunately fewer down south.
-Prahran Cyclist, Martin M.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense. The car industry could only grow when people perceived that owning/using a car would make life easier – which it did! At least at first. It was much faster and more convenient to travel by your own personal car than by other means, and there were no traffic jams, parking nightmares, etc. until the numbers of cars grew to ridiculous levels many years later. People's motivation is still the same now – they want the fastest most convenient way to get where they're going. And increasingly, cars ain't it anymore. The worse the car situation gets, the more people will choose other modes of travel. It's just a matter of how bad it has to get before people are willing to give it up.

Melbourne Cyclist said...

Martin - thanks, yes I'm aware of them - we actually subscribed for a year, to see what the service was like. The service itself is great, there's a car just a five minute walk from my home, seemed to be available pretty much every time we wanted to book it, and we only once had an issue with the previous person not bothering to take time to top up the tank (which you're meant to do if it drops below quarter full whilst you're using it - fuel payment cards are in the car, so it just costs you time).

We ended up cancelling though, because we just weren't using it enough - when it got to the point that we were really struggling to think up a reason to get the car, to use the one 'included' hour each month (and I mean really struggling!), we realised it wasn't good value for money for us. So now we just hire when we're going out of town for a few days, or hitch a lift with friends to get out to all-day barbeques way out in the 'burbs (if no-one else we know is going out that way, we simply take the bikes on the train instead).

2whls3spds said...

My son has be demotorized since 2002 when he first attended university (actually it started before that, we never bought him a car like many American parents do) He has access to zip car or a family car if needed, but seldom chooses to drive. Amtrak gets him home from Boston on the holidays and the rest of the time he walks or utilizes mass transit. There is hope for the future!

Aaron

Mr. Ottawa said...

"Demotorization. A lifestyle choice. Nice. For the record, I'm not anti-car. Cars aren't going to disappear. I'm pro-liveable cities. I prefer the rehumanization of our urban centres and in order to achieve that, cars will need to be restricted in cities. Which is where the bicycle comes in."

Genius! I live in Ottawa and bike every day to University and I don't see why the downtown shouldn't be restricted to efficient transportation, like bikes? :)