In in 2015. Although the literature surrounding car ownership

In this review I will
be focusing on the implications surrounding car ownership, and how the rise of
it has had an impact on different dynamics. As highlighted by the Government
Vehicle Licensing Statistics 2017, car ownership is on the rise globally. In
the UK alone, there were 31.1 million cars on the roads in March 2017 which is
4.6% higher than the previous peak in 2015. Although the literature surrounding
car ownership covers a wide range of topics, I will be directing this review on
the reasons for the growth of car possession, as well as considering some of
the social and environmental consequences too.


It has been asserted
by Bates (1981) in his research that car ownership is directly related to
household income, which infers that more affluent people have higher car
ownership. This was further highlighted by data from the Government Vehicle
Licensing Statistics 2015 which stated that following the recession of
2008-2009, licensed vehicle registration slowed down to an average of 170,000
new vehicles per year between 2007-2012. This was a massive reduction seeing as
annual growth in licensed vehicle registration was 650,000 per year between
1994 and 2007. This reinforces the idea that car ownership is linked with
affluence; as people became more financially stable again, car ownership
increased. Thus, multiple data sets share the view that car ownership is linked
to wealth.  

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It can be assessed
that the increase in car ownership is a direct result of suburbanisation. Some
such as Tana, Mei-Po Kwan and Yanwei Chai (2015) have highlighted in their
journals that in recent years, suburbanisation in Western countries has had a
significant impact on motorised travel and long-distance trips. They assessed
that as there are typically less transport routes in the suburbs, it is assumed
that car ownership is vital to ensure people are able to travel to the city for
work. This is supported by Philip Gomm (2016) who stated that as there are more
women in work in recent years, more cars are required for people to commute.  Yet, this is not always apparent, as Adam Bee
(2015) states that more than 80% of all vehicle trips taken are for non-work
purposes, even though literature often focuses on car ownership for commuting purposes.
He evaluates that although vehicles lower the spatial barriers to employment,
if we focus on this, it overlooks how useful vehicles can be in home
production. This idea is reinforced by data from a journal by Kain (1968) which
shows that low-skill labour demand has shifted from manufacturing to the
service and retail sectors, growing faster in the suburbs than in central
cities. As a result, it can be suggested that the reasons for the increase in
car ownership from different data sets are conflicting, and an argument
surrounding whether or not it is mainly due to commuting purposes is still


The rising car
ownership has lead to social consequences, assessed by Karen Lucas (2012) who talks
about how low car ownership can lead to social exclusion, due to the fact that
in an area where there are poor transport links, there is an inability to
reach: employment, education, health services, etc. Therefore, she asserts that
people who are unable to afford a car could be seen as being socially excluded
in the sense of having missed opportunities that they could access if they
owned a vehicle. Consequently, it could be inferred that transport has an
important role to play in determining social outcomes for different sectors of
modern society (Banister et al., 1981). Yet, these consequences don’t necessarily
have to be negative, as it has been inferred by researchers such as Heba Soffar
(2015) that vehicles are vital in modern society in order to transport goods
and services across the country. Soffar argues that cars help people travel
around with a great deal of freedom, and without them, people would not be able
to access the same opportunities they do now. In summary, there is a disputing
argument concerning whether or not increased car ownership leads to social
exclusion or inclusion, as both sides of the argument seem valid in determining
social outcomes.


As well as social
consequences, there is a common view that the environment is greatly impacted
by increased car ownership. As stated by Gemma Renton (2017), one of the most
damaging impacts of increased motor vehicle use is the increased level of
pollutants vehicles are releasing in to our atmosphere. Renton asserts that an
average vehicle with a 3L engine releases over 10,000 pounds of pollutant
(mainly carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere each year, which is damaging to the
environment and all in order to meet the demand for new cars. This idea is
reinforced by others such as Hopkins (2016), whose research has concluded that
the increased greenhouse gas emissions are putting immense pressure on our
planet, and therefore this discusses the urgency that is needed for us to transform
to lower carbon mobility. Issues surrounding the damaging effect that vehicles
are having on the environment is a collective view shared by a variety of
sources, therefore it can be concluded that the rise in car ownership is
directly having a destructive effect on the environment. Yet, some literature
suggests that there is an attempt to sort this problem out: through the
introduction of lower carbon mobility vehicles. As asserted by the Vehicle
Licensing Statistics 2015, the amount of low carbon vehicles in 2015 was 34%
higher than from one year before, and 91% more than two years previous to that.
Thus, although the literature addresses that there is a problem associated with
rising car ownership, other research suggests that there is something being
done about the problem. Therefore, this raises a question of whether car
ownership will become more sustainable in the future as the environmental
impacts may be limited.


Conclusively, from the
data gathered it can be established that car ownership is increasing in the UK,
and this has become an environmental burden with some social implications too. The
general consensus from the data is that this is becoming a problem for the
environment, therefore methods to reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles on
our roads are increasingly current and may change the impacts of car ownership
in the future. There seems to be a contradictory argument surrounding whether
or not the rise of car ownership is negative on society, therefore maybe
further research in this field is required in order to come to a final outcome.
Yet, overall, car ownership is certainly on the rise in the UK.