Today’s car-based transportation systems require a transition toward sustainability. This is particularly the case in suburban areas, where the costs for introducing a new transportation system are high due to the low population density. At the same time the negative externalities of the current mobility regime – such as health costs and congestions – are increasing rapidly. Based on expert interviews with car manufacturers, transportation authorities, environmental groups, and scientists we identify two visionary characteristics of future, more sustainable transportation systems: automated driving and sharing. Using these two characteristics, we apply the scenario-axes technique to develop four mobility scenarios for a suburban context that range from business-as-usual to a radical and more sustainable one. In an evaluation with ten criteria that measure a scenario’s performance from a user perspective, the radical scenario performs worst since it does not meet current individualistic user requirements. Our findings suggest that lockins of users’ expectations act as barriers for the diffusion of novel transportation systems. These barriers cannot be overcome by technological innovations and regulation alone. Hence, we call for innovative arenas, wherein technology and user acceptability could coevolve.

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Futures: the journal of policy, planning and futures studies

Epprecht, N., von Wirth, T., Stünzi, C., & Blumer, Y.B. (2014). Anticipating transitions beyond the current mobility regimes: How acceptability matters. Futures: the journal of policy, planning and futures studies, 60, 30–40. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2014.04.001