This article looks into integrative design and sustainable mobility.


The last 2 weeks we have looked into integrative design as the leading idea within energy efficiency and how it applies to buildings. You can find links to both of these articles below.



This week looks into how the idea behind integrative design can be applied to sustainable mobility. It is based on the Amory Lovins 2018 paper How big is the energy efficiency resource?

The paper’s section on mobility opens by citing evidence from Loveday that highlighted the success of BMW’s 4×-efficiency i3 electric car (pictured above). This vehicle used integrative design and pays for the carbon fibre in its passenger cell by needing fewer. This made the lightweighting free and recharging faster.

Amory emphasises that a smaller powertrain is most valuable in electric vehicles, at least until batteries or fuel cells become much cheaper.

Amory also emphasises the need to persevere with integrative design, even if initial experiments are unsuccessful. As with buildings, small savings can cost more than big savings, whose marginal cost at first rises, but can decline again as whole-vehicle synergies emerge at very high savings. The actual potential is considerably larger and cheaper with integrative design.

Amory also points towards evidence that shows that since 2000, integrative design has more than doubled potential auto efficiency, which you can see in the figure below.


Amory also points towards some of his own writing that shows that tripled to quintupled aeroplane efficiency also looks feasible and worthwhile based on authoritative virtual designs by Boeing, NASA, and MIT—even more with liquid hydrogen or electric propulsion. With savings on the order of half or more have been designed in a variety of ships. It looks like there is no type of vehicle that integrative design cannot make more sustainable.

Amory highlights further evidence that shows that shared, connected mobility systems enabled by wireless infomatics offer further design integration for people and freight. Energy efficiency savings from vehicles can also be increased further with improved urban form and density.

What you need to know

This article looked into integrative design and sustainable mobility.

It was based on the Amory Lovins 2018 paper How big is the energy efficiency resource?

We looked into how leightweighting can make electric cars cheaper and more energy efficient.

We also looked into how it is important to pursue integrative design and design the vehicle as one system and not through a series of ad hock energy efficiency initiatives.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make mobility more sustainable?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s