Abstract: Although car ownership continues to rise worldwide, temporary or more lasting phases of demotorization (reduction in the number of vehicles owned) are taking place at the household level. Existing studies show that the probability of demotorization increases at certain stages of the life cycle, for example, associated with a reduction in household size or income, or a move to a neighborhood with better transit provision. However, the rationale and temporalities of the decision-making processes involved remain obscure. This knowledge could be useful in informing public action on the measures needed in different categories of territories and populations to encourage a steady and sustainable fall in car ownership. As its contribution to these questions, this article focuses on the influence of spatial factors on household demotorization. The methodology draws on 51 interviews conducted in 2018 with demotorized households in four French urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Dijon). The findings highlight the role of the characteristics of the current place of residence, changes in the place of residence or place of work, and the spatial dimensions of travel socialization. If, as things stand, permanent and voluntary relinquishment of the car is only possible in very dense urban areas, our results show firstly that there is a strong case for working on mobility representations and practices from a very early age and, secondly, the importance of implementing planning policies and alternatives to the private car that are credible in areas of lower population density.
Keywords: car dependency; car ownership; demotorization; mobility biographies research; public policies; travel socialization