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SciAm Readers Prioritize MP3s Over MPGs

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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According to Zipcar, 43% of Millenials have used social networking to replace a car drive. Image courtesy of: www.nonprofithub.org

Thank you for your input as no less than 100 readers were kind enough to participate in my not-so-scientific survey of what is least important to them, when given a choice to give up one item ranging between a TV, vehicle, laptop/tablet, and a smartphone.

I know my Social Science Surveys professor from grad school would probably rip his hair out if he looked at my biased questions and the suspiciously perfect number of 100 respondents (no tampering, promise!), yet my intent was not simply data collection but three-fold:

So how do the results from our survey and Zipcar’s survey stack up against each other?

If you had to give up one, which would it be?

From our survey results seen here to the left, we see that 68% of respondents rank their TV the lowest, which is pretty intuitive given how much we watch shows and what not on our smartphones, as well as laptops and tablets. Surprising to me was that people would rather give up their smartphone than their vehicle or laptop or tablet.

If we can compare that to Zipcar’s findings, which tends to rank these products by age category, I can divine that the readership of this blog extends past Millenials, which is neither here nor there, but the big finding from Zipcar is simply this: new technologies are changing our behaviors, and this varies by age.

So if Millenials, which is to say future people, value MP3s over MPGs (in the words of Zipcar’s President Mark Norman) then what are the implications for future energy use? What role do ICT and new technologies have in enabling changing behaviors and with it, a transformed energy landscape?

More on this in the next post as I look into the drop of future people with drivers licenses.

For now though, what do you think?

p.s. In a nice juxtaposition, see fellow blogger Sheril Kirshenbaum discuss the age split in opinion of allowing natural gas exports.

Tali Trigg About the Author: Energy and transport analyst who believes how you say it is as important as what you say. Opinions are his own. Follow on Twitter @talitrigg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. jerryd 4:57 pm 04/30/2014

    My bet is many are getting over their overseer/tracker, I mean smartphone, as much a hassle, time waster as help.

    In too many places a car isn’t optional in the US. That said I think much more modest vehicles like subcars, not unlike the Zip, will be a good part of the future. Though why Zip is charging 3x’s cost + limits their market. I think Lyft, etc will pass them by.

    And even personal transport modules/high speed wheelchairs, with 20 mph and 50+ mile range are fairly easy, cheap to do and don’t require DL’s, insurance, parking, thus cost less than a 1 way bus pass/week for unlimited use.

    Just drive into buildings, home, bus, airplane, train, etc, just a lot cheaper and EV drive to keep costs low. In the big cities likely the best transport as no place to park a car.

    I drive my Harley Servicecar size EV trike at a similar cost, legally a moped so I get my own lanes and easy to park, charge.

    Also auto insurance for the young is outrageous, causing many to postpone getting one is likely the biggest reason.

    Link to this

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