This article is the third of a series dedicated to smart technologies and cities. Through these readings, I propose a comprehensive approach to decipher the future urban challenges that smart cities and mobility will have to face for a better, safer and more sustainable future for all of us.
Smart mobility, the city blood, may be the most important domain to be addressed by smart cities. First, mobility will aggregate, like a black hole, a wide variety of industries ranging from diverse sectors such as tech, communication, automotive, infrastructure or energy. Therefore, making an impact on the mobility industry will also impact these related sectors. Second, it directly tackles concrete environmental challenges through the “three zeroes” framework such as pollution (0 emissions), security (0 accidents) or lifestyle (0 ownership). Through its politic, local city government can make tangible impact on concrete challenges such as pollution, congestion, safety, quality of life and employment.
The future of mobility will be a multitude of services that people will have to embrace to make the mobility revolution a success
To make the Mobility Revolution a success, a multitude of mobility services will be available to people. It is important they embrace this diversity together with a behaviour change to leverage the entire positive impacts that smart transportation can make on its environment. Reviewing mobility solutions is out of this article’s scope. However, some important trends should be mentioned here, and I encourage you to explore them according to your preferences (happy to discuss each one of them with you):
- MaaS: ok, I do not even know what it includes today as so many people are using this term in so many different situations… When a market value has forecasts ranging from 1 to 10 times its amount, I think it’s because nobody has a clue of what it means! Let’s skip that “trend”, shall we?
- Ridehailing: companies such as Uber or Lyft connect riders with car drivers where you can enjoy a private or shared trip;
- Carsharing: if you need to rent a car, you can create an account on platforms such as Zipcar, which would give you access to a fleet of vehicles managed by the company, or rent a car owned by someone, similarly to an Airbnb, via firms such as Hiyacar;
- Public transport on demand: redefining how we take the bus, the train or the underground is currently investigated by companies such as Go-Ahead (London bus operators) and Via (US mobility software provider). In the near future, we could have virtual bus stops, changing from one place to another according to variables such as the capacity of the bus, the passenger destinations and the location of the riders requesting a trip;
- Micromobility: Jump, Bird, Lime and other mobility start-ups offer solutions for your last urban miles with e-scooters, e-bikes, …
- Urban Air mobility: probably the most futuristic trend, flying cars would potentially touch the sky by 2050 (according to a survey I realised with Roland Berger and The Aviary Project in November 2018). In the meantime, there is still a lot of work to do in terms of R&D, infrastructure, regulation, and customer acceptance. For more information regarding this topic, you may want to consider the following firms such as Lilium, Volocopter, Airlander, Uber Elevate or Vertical Aerospace;
- Connected and Electric vehicles: with US$300 bn investment planned by OEMs in electric vehicle technologies over the next 10 years, EV is becoming a reality. I used to be a huge cylinder fan – the more the better I used to think – until the day I tried a Hybrid and then an EV. I know today that my next car – should I’ll own one again… – will be electrified;
- Ownership vs Sharing: Studies have shown that the next generations of mobility customers would prefer to trade their car keys for a mobility subscription with MaaS (mobility as a service) companies. Although the likelihood to transit towards a sharing economy seems to be high (Airbnb, Netflix, Spotify, Uber, …), there are still questions about when and to what extent this new consumer behaviour will impact the mobility industry;
Thinking that people want to share a vehicle is not true and too generic. It as to be more granular…
Just a quick note about the shared mobility. Although I genuinely believe that this is where we are heading, I am very sceptical about the fact that people, more specifically Millennials (myself included), do not want to own a vehicle anymore and drive the industry towards a fully shared ecosystem. This is both unverified in our study “Being Driven” [60% of the respondents do not want to share an autonomous vehicle] and in the business world where ridehailing companies are struggling to be profitable (I agree shared behaviour is not the only reason but still…) and some carsharing programs such as the one from BMW/ Daimler JV had to stop in certain cities mainly due to the strong private ownership preference from city residents.
Dear [some] mobility experts, try to focus more on being critic than trendy to look cool and knowledgeable…
So please, dear mobility experts [not all of you], before shortcutting and jumping on too easy and obvious conclusions just to look trendy and amplify the message that big companies believe (sometimes wrongly), try to be a bit more critical. I remember engaged discussions where I disagreed with people telling me « haaaa Daimler and BMW will change the mobility-service game with their $1bn investment. »… 😩
OEMs are not B2C, stop saying that…please
Another example is the number of “experts” strongly affirming that OEMs are B2C companies and ready to be a mobility provider… I do not count the number of events where I hear that during a talk… 🤯 If you recognize yourself, you are a sort of champion!
So be critical, embrace the diversity, think about your footprint and make the Mobility Revolution a great success.
As always, share your opinion and engage with me!😄
Frederic is a Consultant at Neckermann Strategic Advisors. He holds an MBA from Imperial College London Business School and a Master’s Degree in Business Engineering from UMons. He supports companies in understanding how the Mobility Revolution will change their business. Frederic is the co-author of multiple smart mobility research reports and one of the contributors to the Global New Mobility Coalition led by the World Economic Forum. He is also a mobility guest lecturer at Universities, a blogger @ Frederic-john.com and mentors mobility start-ups in London and Singapore. He is fluent in French and English and also speaks some Spanish and Dutch.
The views expressed in this article are personal and do not represent the opinion of my employer or any other parties I am involved with. The suggested insights come from my discussions, research and analyses.