Broadcast: Events

Paradigm Transition; Policy Options Nudging Passenger Car Users Towards Sustainable Behaviours

Tuesday 10 March 13:00 until 14:00
Jubilee G32
Speaker: Alexandre Rodrigues
Part of the series: Energy & Climate Seminar Series


Passenger cars are responsible for high demands of energy and materials, both from manufacturing and use stage; raw material resource extraction, transformation, use and disposal. Their energy and material efficiencies are far from perfect, despite the car, and its incumbent industry, being present and influential in society for almost a century and half. The premise of car design, manufacturing process, business model and use have scarcely evolved or changed drastically. Nations have been producing and consuming this product unsustainably. The surge of developing nations and their consumption demands is adding further pressure on resources and energy use.

If the vision of less unsustainable, socio-technical transition of car usage is taking place, from a top-down technological approach, there is no equivalent change in the social, bottom-up car ownership culture. Given that policy makers are systemically compromised - by the relevant stakeholders - where they operate, changes in ownership culture could stimulate and mandate the necessary policy action where relevant. It is also debatable if the promised lower impact of car sharing is occurring. Car share has a lower uptake, cars are driven low annual mileages and have a short service life.

Alexandre's research contributes to the understanding of how the social facet of socio-technical transitions can help replace the car culture status-quo and provide opportunities for nudge policy action using Cultural Theory and the Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour. The research reports on consumer mindfulness of car sharing and barriers and drivers for social transitions towards different cultures of car ownership and use. The data brings new insights into UK car consumers, addressing calls for understanding car user behaviour, and creating mechanisms to overtake the car culture status quo.


Dr Alexandre Rodrigues recently finished his PhD in sustainable production and consumption of passenger cars at Nottingham Trent University. His thesis is entitled ‘Driving in the Wrong Lane: Towards a Change in Paradigm for Optimal Passenger Car Lifespans’. Alexandre investigated the role of the automotive industry, the car-sharing sector and car users. His research was informed by, and made use of nudge and interpersonal behaviour theories to advance policy options towards sustainable socio-technical transitions of the current automotive regime. Alexandre’s background is in Automotive Product Design and has been teaching Product Design at the University of Sussex. His research interests are in design for sustainability, consumer behaviour and socio-technical transitions towards sustainable production and consumption. 

By: Francisco Dominguez
Last updated: Monday, 27 January 2020