Six Moves that Prove Mobility Never Stands Still
From the launch of AutoTech Disruption in Paris to the more established Movin’On Summit in Montreal – aka the ”Davos de la mobilité” – I have spent the first eight months of 2019 listening to every mobility mover and shaker that matters. It’s been a year in which we’ve heard much more about hydrogen as an alternative energy source, about robot taxis and other new mobility modes such as e-scooters, and about ACE (Autonomous Connected and Electric) vehicles.
What follows is some of what we’ve learned so far, six announcements that demonstrate that when we gather for Autonomy & The Urban Mobility Summit in October, the world of mobility will look very different compared to when we met in Paris a year earlier.
The short version of what follows? Mobility never stands still!
1. Car makers don’t just make cars
The percentage of urban dwellers in the world is forecast to rise to 70% by 2050, up from 50% just a decade ago. The question, therefore, is not whether to reduce transport flows through our cities but how to improve the flow efficiency.
Smart city planners are catering to new modes of transit management. They are bridging different parts of the customer journey from car ownership – and the associated tolling and parking infrastructure – to a joined-up public transportation network and alternative mobility offering. Multimodality is part of the answer.
And this is where Daimler and BMW come in. The two companies merged their urban mobility services a year ago and are now creating a new venture to unify five interlocking city-based offerings. These include ride-hailing and e-scooter rental (Free Now), parking services (Park Now), and a network of public charge points for electric vehicles (Charge Now). For Daimler and BMW – two of the industry’s biggest brands – making cars may still be their core business but it is no longer their only business.
2. Supermarkets, the filling stations of the future
Even a couple of years ago, few would think that Volkswagen, Lidl and Kaufland were obvious partners. But now the two food retailers will install 140 public charging stations in 60 supermarkets across Berlin. VW will have exclusive access to the charging points overnight to charge its WeShare fleet of fully electric car sharing vehicles. At a stroke, the move increases the number of charging points in the German capital by 20%. “Supermarkets are the filling stations of the future,” said VW’s Christian Senger.
3. The ecosystem is unlimited
For further evidence that the changing nature of mobility is throwing up surprising alliances look no further than the tie-up between carmaker Fiat Chrysler and two of Europe’s largest utility players. The deal sees Enel and Engie provide public and private electric vehicle charging points across 17 European countries. “We are assembling an ecosystem of partners, products and services across multiple markets to meet and exceed the rapidly evolving expectations of our customers for electrified vehicles,” Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Mike Manley said. They are not alone.
4. Everybody needs a mobility assistant
In an effort to come to terms with the profusion of transport options and operators, France’s national railway company is turning its flagship app into a “mobility assistant.” Designed to be a gateway to all modes of mobility, users can not only access train schedules, but also book and pay for ride-hailing and ride-sharing services as well as other forms of public transport across France. A single billing point for end-to-end journeys is a central tenet of successful mobility.
5. Usage grows when trip lengths go down and transport options go up
An ”all-you-can-eat,” Amazon Prime-style subscription service is coming for users of the Uber ride-hailing app.. Combining its taxi service with bike and scooter rentals (as well as food delivery), Uber said in July that it will test its subscription service in Chicago and San Francisco before considering rolling it out more widely. As one observer rightly noted: “The advantages for mobility subscriptions become more obvious to the consumer as the number of modes goes up and trip length goes down.”
6. The future of mobility is… mobile
In August, Google Maps announced that it was going multi-modal. Its apps will pair public transport trips with biking and ride-sharing options allowing travellers to complete a journey using a variety of transport modes. Information about cost, waiting and journey times, as well as the likely crowdedness of bus, trams and trains will also help users decide their preferred routes. With over a billion users and established as the world’s most popular smartphone navigation app, the Google Map announcement will only further fuel multi-modal mobility.
And talking of maps, here’s just one way Conduent can contribute to creating interconnected and fast-flowing cities of the future. Conduent’s Mobility Analytics Platform (MAP) provides a city or region overview of transportation operation. It is a cartographic analysis tool that is both multi-modal – public transport, parking, vehicle sharing etc. – and multi-operator. By providing an easy-to-understand overview of network usage, we believe it will prove a powerful communication tool for decision makers. Still need to be convinced? Let’s talk at Autonomy.
Jean-Marie Vial is Conduent's Automotive Senior Expert and will be Autonomy & The Urban Mobility Summit on 16-17 October in Paris. To connect with Jean-Marie and his colleagues at the event, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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