• Car use is expected to become increasingly prevalent in Asia over the next 30 years.
  • The share of trips taken by car in Asia is expected to approach that of Europe (44 percent) and Latin America (42 percent) by 2050.
  • Despite Asia boasting some of the worlds most sophisticated public transport systems, inequalities in infrastructure between rural and urban areas could lead to large increases in motorization.

While car use is projected to fall in North America and Europe until 2050, Asia is the continent where the car as a mode of transportation is expected to become much more prevalent. In the next three decades, Asian car use is projected to climb to more than 40 percent of trips taken, up from just 28 percent in 2015.

The share of trips taken by car in Asia would be approaching that of Europe (44 percent) and Latin America (42 percent) by 2050, while the share of car trips taken in North America is expected to remain at a very high 76 percent despite the importance of the car slightly sinking.

According to the report 21st Century Cities: Asia Pacific's Urban Transformation by MIT Technology Review, Asia Pacific is home to some of the most sophisticated public transport systems in the world, but because of huge discrepancies in the development status of different countries and of rural vs. urban areas, motorization could increase hugely as the continent develops.

The report concludes that by implementing far-reaching sustainable policies, the share of car trips in Asia could also be limited to 16-19 percent by 2050. The makers of the report believe that an equally drastic reduction of car trips could be possible in Africa, Europe and Latin America, while reducing car use to a truly lower level was deemed more difficult in North America and the Middle East.

Where car use is rising and falling.
Car use is expected to increase by 12 percentage points in Asia from 2015 t0 2050.
Image: Statista

What is the World Economic Forum doing to promote sustainable urban development?

Cities are responsible for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and are home to over half of the world’s population—a number that will grow to two-thirds by 2050. By going greener, cities could contribute more than half of the emissions cuts needed to keep global warming to less than 2°c, which would be in line with the Paris Agreement.

To achieve net-zero urban emissions by 2050, the World Economic Forum is partnering with other stakeholders to drive various initiatives to promote sustainable urban development. Here are just a few:

To learn more about our initiatives to promote zero-carbon cities and to see how you can be part of our efforts to facilitate urban transformation, reach out to us here.