And so beging the posts of the former News Musings, largely informed by the Metro from my morning commute and my daily dose of NPR, which accounts for anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 hours of my day. Interestingly enough, the Metro seems to be a fairly accurate predictor of the news I’ll find later on NPR, though condensed into bite-sized stories for easy digestion.
This morning, NPR’s On Point is starting with the issue of cars in China. According to our guest expert, an author in residence at NYU, China will ultimately have more miles of road that the States; it’s currently second but expanding quite rapidly. What’s the impact of a billion people suddenly driving cars, our host asks? Aside from the obvious environmental impact and a boom for the automotive industry, the Chinese already boast an impressive 21% of automobile fatalities. According to the guest, this is probably due in no small part to excessive speeds; drivers with licenses only two or three years old are so thrilled with the road that speed comes almost naturally. I would wager that infrastructure is also partly to blame–I imagine building roads and dumping cars into the country hasn’t necessarily been accompanied by signage and increased police vigilance, particularly since roads aren’t confined to major cities where these would already be in place.
The next question is whether China’s “exploding love affair with the automobile” will lead to a new Chinese auto industry, and I think it will. Given China’s knack for getting Americans to buy cheap crap, how will this affect the world automobile market? As the Chinese demand more autos, will we see an influx of Asian models on our streets as well? Will American auto prices be undercut by foreign competitors?