Edward Elgar publishing (Link opens in a new window)

Sustainable Automobility

Understanding the Car as a Natural System

About the Author

As well as being a car-nut or petrol-head, I have been interested in what I call sustainable automobility for about 25 years. My first publication in this field was The Green Car Guide, a paperback written with a couple of colleagues from my management consultancy days and published in 1992. In subsequent publications I have always been keen to balance the academic with wider public dissemination and the latter in particular – expressed through a number of books – has led to regular invitations to speak at industry conferences, invitations to provide expert comment to the media and invitations to brief governments – including those of China, Australia and the UK – as well as international bodies such as the European Commission, OECD, UNEP, UNIDO, etc. Much of this work was done under the banner of our Centre for Automotive Industry Research, one of the few social-science based university research centres worldwide with this particular sector focus.

Although social science research is relatively cheap, it is not free and funding is always welcome. Most of my research funding during the 1990s came from such sources as outlined above, in 2001 I became one of the founder members of the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) at Cardiff University, a multi-disciplinary group which enjoyed more than £8million worth of funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for the next 11 years. This allowed much greater freedom in my research, which among other areas enabled me to develop a greater interest in industrial ecology and more recent attempts to widen the scope of industrial ecology into more comprehensive ecological models. The results of this may be found in these books.

After ESRC funding for BRASS stopped, some of the BRASS work, in particular our sustainable mobility work, was accommodated within the new Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University, where we worked closely with colleagues from the School of Psychology. In addition, our EV work was accommodated under the related Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence, a joint venture with the School of Engineering. My more conventional work involves eco-efficiency focused research, mainly in the area of carbon reduction strategies, such as my work on comparing finished vehicle supply chains between shipping from South Korea and sourcing from local transplant facilities in Europe or North America. This prompted me to take an interest in the environmental impact of shipping and has been the subject of a few conference papers, reports for private sector clients, as well as a refereed journal article in the International Journal of Production Economics. Similarly, my work on the origins of mass car production, and related investigations into more sustainable alternative production and business models for delivering personal motorized mobility has been published in mainstream journals such as Industrial and Corporate Change, a series of books, as well as leading to invitations by industry to help bring such concepts to market.

Outside work, since retiring in 2018, I now stick to projects I enjoy, I am a keen car enthusiast, participate in classic car events, am a member of several car clubs and I am a keen model car collector. My life is steeped in cars, in other words.

Cars I have owned

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