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Who Made Peak Car, and How? A Breakdown of Trends over Four Decades in Four Countries


  • Tobias Kuhnimhof
  • Dirk Zumkeller
  • Bastian Chlond


This paper investigates the contribution of underlying trends to per-capita car travel development since the 1970s in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the USA. In these countries, after a long period of growth, car travel began to show signs of stagnation - or even decrease - after the 1990s. Our paper breaks down underlying demographic and travel trends for two study periods: first, a period of per-capita car travel growth (until the mid-1990s); second, a period of stagnation or decrease in car travel (beginning around the turn of the millennium). Two patterns of development emerge: (1) in France and the USA, the reversal in the trend in car travel per capita was due mainly to trend changes in total travel demand by drivers; (2) in Germany and Great Britain, the levelling off of motorisation, and shifts to other modes, played a much larger role. Ageing has in recent years gained weight in shaping per-capita car travel trends. In Europe, the continued increase of car availability for seniors has had a damping effect on peak car. Even though all age classes have contributed to peak car, young adults stand out in this regard and therefore deserve special attention.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Kuhnimhof & Dirk Zumkeller & Bastian Chlond, 2013. "Who Made Peak Car, and How? A Breakdown of Trends over Four Decades in Four Countries," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 325-342, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:transr:v:33:y:2013:i:3:p:325-342
    DOI: 10.1080/01441647.2013.801928

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:eee:jotrge:v:19:y:2011:i:4:p:644-657 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tobias Kuhnimhof & Jimmy Armoogum & Ralph Buehler & Joyce Dargay & Jon Martin Denstadli & Toshiyuki Yamamoto, 2012. "Men Shape a Downward Trend in Car Use among Young Adults—Evidence from Six Industrialized Countries," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(6), pages 761-779, September.
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