Daniel Sperling

About Daniel Sperling (Edit profile)

Professor and Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (dsperling@ucdavis.edu).

An Innovative Path to Sustainable Transportation

Daniel Sperling

Contrary to popular belief, the world is awash in fossil energy, much of which can be readily converted into fuels for our cars, trucks, and planes. We are not running out of fossil fuels. The abundance of fossil fuels means we are unlikely to see high fuel prices due to scarcity. Indeed, most analysts predict that future oil prices will not be much higher than today’s, apart from occasional peaks due, for example, to conflicts in the Middle East. Prices might even end up lower as new exploration and extraction technologies for shale oil, heavy oils, deep-sea oil, and oil sands make it cheaper and easier to extract fossil energy. Thus, we cannot depend on high oil prices to reduce transport energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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Will China’s Vehicle Population Grow Even Faster than Forecasted?

Yunshi Wang, Jacob Teter and Daniel Sperling

In 2010, China surpassed the US and all other countries in vehicle sales, and will no doubt retain its number one ranking for decades. But how big will China’s vehicle market become? The answer is of great importance for the entire world. Rapid Chinese motorization has alarming implications for both the environment and global energy resources. China is already the world’s largest CO2 emitter and second-largest oil importer. Yet its vehicle ownership rates are still a fraction of those in the US—58 vehicles per 1,000 persons in 2010 compared to 804 per 1,000 in the US. Download the PDF.

Transforming the Oil Industry into the Energy Industry

Daniel Sperling and Sonia Yeh

When it comes to energy security and climate change concerns, transportation is the principal culprit. It consumes half the oil used in the world and accounts for almost one fourth of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the United States, it plays an even larger role, consuming two thirds of the oil and causing about one third of the GHG emissions in the country. Vehicles, planes, and ships remain almost entirely dependent on petroleum. Efforts to replace petroleum, usually for energy security reasons but also to reduce local air pollution, have continued episodically for years— and largely failed.

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2018-02-07T23:26:22+00:00Categories: ACCESS 34, Spring 2009|Tags: |

Beyond ITS and the Transportation Monoculture

Daniel Sperling

Mel Webber wrote and thought a lot about cars. He frequently pointed out that cars remain the first choice for transport for most people because their convenience and door-to-door accessibility are unmatched by any other mode. However, many cities are headed toward traffic paralysis because cars are so popular. Car ownership and use continue to increase, but there is little expansion in road capacity.

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Asilomar Declaration on Climate Policy

Daniel Sperling

Climate change is creeping into the public consciousness. Arcane scientific debates are front page news. Best-selling authors and Hollywood movies feature climate change. Presidents and Prime Ministers are becoming conversant in climate change science and policy. It is time for the transport sector to become part of the solution. Opportunities to reduce climate impacts abound in transportation, with broad economic, environmental, and social benefits. We need new partnerships among industry, political leaders, and the public, and a new culture of innovation that builds synergies across technological and behavioral initiatives.

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2017-05-30T22:18:07+00:00Categories: ACCESS 29, Fall 2006|Tags: |

The Price Of Regulation

Daniel Sperling

The era of social regulation began in the late 1960s. At first the focus was on safety and pollution, and later on energy use. Motor vehicles were the first and most prominent target. Now, forty years later, social regulation is firmly entrenched. Regulators propose increasingly stringent technology-forcing rules on vehicles, expecting automakers to find a way to adhere to them. Automakers invariably resist, asserting economic hardship. Parts suppliers, trade groups, labor unions, consumers, environmentalists, and others intervene on one side or the other in a dance that proceeds through legislatures, courts, and the public arena. What have been the effects of these social regulations? Have individual companies or entire industries suffered economic hardship? Have consumers been disadvantaged?

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Motorizing the Developing World

Daniel Sperling

In rural areas and small cities of China and India, millions of small locally made three- and four-wheel “rural vehicles” are proliferating. In China, the vehicles are banned in large cities because of their slow speed and high emissions, but even so rural vehicle sales in China outnumber those of conventional cars and trucks. These vehicles, which cost anywhere from $400 to $4,000 each, are the heart of millions of small businesses, transporting farm products, construction materials, and locally manufactured products. They also serve as the principal mode of motorized travel in rural areas.

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Clean Diesel: Overcoming Noxious Fumes

Christie-Joy Brodrick, Daniel Sperling, and Harry A. Dwyer

What is the truth about diesel engines? Are they inherently dirty? Do they belch clouds of black soot? Are they unsuited to cars, as evidenced by 1980s class-action suits against GM’s diesel “lemons?” Do they make an unnecessary racket when idling and accelerating? Are their emissions toxic and a threat to human health? Many ask, in this age of ultra-clean transport, why do we still have diesel engines? The governor of Tokyo and air quality regulators in southern California have both launched campaigns to ban them. But there’s another side to the story of diesel engines. European regulators assert they are an answer to climate-change threats. Many automotive companies claim that new diesel engines are dramatically improved and as clean and quiet as gasoline engines. And freight companies rely almost exclusively on diesel engines for their trucks because they are durable and efficient. Indeed, diesel engines continue to increase their market share worldwide, now accounting for about forty percent of all roadway fuel consumed.

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R&D Partnership for the Next Cars

Daniel Sperling

In September 1993 President Bill Clinton and chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors created the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). Their primary goal was to develop a vehicle with up to three times the fuel economy of midsize 1993 US cars (about eighty mpg) with no sacrifice in performance, size, cost, emissions, or safety. Billions of dollars were to be spent over ten years, split roughly fifty-fifty between government and industry. They planned to select the most promising technologies by 1997, to build a concept prototype by 2000, and to have a production prototype by 2004. The program has adhered to that schedule.

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