Looking through a windscreen: managing the future of automobility

Enoch, Marcus and Warren, James P. (2022). Looking through a windscreen: managing the future of automobility. Applied Mobilites, 7(1) pp. 81–98.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/23800127.2020.1776510


Global car ownership and usage have grown rapidly for several decades now and these trends look set to continue. For car users, the increased mobility afforded by the automobility system is largely welcomed despite the significant externalities produced. The windscreen is one location where controls on automobility are affixed by using artefacts such as paper discs, decals, stickers or digital devices. These artefacts, in turn, have significant meanings and symbolism on how users relate to their vehicles and how others attempt to control car ownership and use. The aim of this paper is to examine how ownership and use are controlled currently, and to speculate on how they might be mapped in the future through a catalogue of windscreen-mounted artefacts. The artefacts have been sourced globally and were arranged according to the ‘type’ of control they were exerting. Artefact classification analysis shows that public policy instruments can be categorised according to informational, regulatory or economic control; the aspect being targeted; and the frequency and longevity of these interventions. Categories include agents and the focus of action through which a policy instrument is applied. Future trajectories are explored with respect to the role of clutter and the windscreen itself as morphing during possible shifts towards a paradigm of smarter mobility emphasising the importance of usership (not ownership), increasing digitalisation, increasing intelligence, less carbon intensity/electrification, and finally automation.

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