We must get rid of the idea that we are tied to a single means of mobility for all our journeys. We don’t eat the same thing every day, right? This applies to our mobility: the future of mobility is just as varied as our eating habits. Or to put it in mobility terms: the future of mobility is multimodal.
The private car was king for a long time. My freedom, my car. However, this is not always the case anymore, certainly not for people who live and work in an urban environment. Your own car as the standard solution in the city no longer works. In fact, the current mobility model has become untenable.
Individual mobility behaviour is changing
The average morning traffic jam in Belgium is already 145 kilometres. Although some may consider this to be ‘normal’, it is absurd if you really think about it. Even more, Belgians emit around 3,125 tonnes of CO2 per capita in mobility per year.
Private car ownership in Belgium is sky-high, although we only use our private cars for five percent of the time. During the other 95 percent our cars are parked, often in the city, where space is becoming increasingly scarce. It is also interesting that up to 30 percent of this scarce urban area is used to park our cars.
In a society where people wanted a day to last 36 hours, we spend an average of 4 full days searching for a parking space every year. We don’t need more time, but we just have to organize our time more efficiently. Your own car the pinnacle of ease of use? Certainly not always, and certainly not in the city.
First of all, time and efficiency are not the only factors that are increasingly disadvantageous for private car usage. Let’s take a look at the cost price. Our own car comes with costs. Consider the purchase price, insurance, fuel, road tax, maintenance, parking, and so on. Imagine you also have to pay for all these costs for a second family car you barely use.
For reasons of time, efficiency and cost, people are increasingly resorting to other mobility solutions. The number of alternative and innovative mobility solutions is, therefore, increasing at lightning speed. On top of public transport, think of car sharing, bike sharing, scooter sharing, kickscooter sharing, Uber… Our mobility preferences are changing. Flexibility and ease of use are the keywords here.
New business models are emerging
Also, the traditional business model of the automotive sector – and the mobility industry in general – is currently all about selling a product. You buy a car, a motorcycle, a bike, a scooter… However, I believe that the mobility market is increasingly evolving towards a service economy. People want to pay to go from point A to point B, in the way that is most suitable for them at that time.
The on-demand economy also has increasing importance. People nowadays expect services to be available immediately. It’s not without reason that we are talking about the ‘one-click generation’ when we talk about the millennials and subsequent generations. Usability is key here. Ease of use is the new loyalty, customers, therefore, remain loyal to the most user-friendly service.
More and more entrepreneurs and companies are anticipating these fundamentally changed needs. New mobility solutions respond strongly to the flexible, on-demand and user-friendly nature. Think of Uber, Lyft, Poppy, Bird …
With so many new services available, private car sales will certainly decrease in the future. The key question is when. A report from organization consultancy McKinsey shows that by 2030 no less than one in ten cars sold may be a shared car.
As with any disruption, this naturally does not mean that traditional players are doomed. However, they join forces with more innovative, smaller initiatives to meet the new customer needs. That is precisely what Poppy has done: a corporate venture with Lab Box from D’Ieteren Auto.
Connected cars are becoming a reality
Innovation and new business models do not only come from small, new players. The car industry itself is also undergoing major changes. The ‘Moore’s law’ about exponential innovation that is famous among economists no longer only applies to the computer industry. We expect to achieve such exponential growth in the mobility industry in the coming period.
Exponential innovation? Well, who would have dared to dream ten years ago that today cars could park themselves, automatically follow a car on the highway, automatically stay within the right lane, get automatic updates about the weather and the slipperiness of the lane… And like the well-known saying: ‘The best is yet to come.’
I strongly believe that autonomous vehicles have the potential to completely transform our mobility. For example, link fully autonomous cars to the new need to be served on-demand and there is a perfect match. If you know that within five minutes a car is at your door, why would you want to own one?
Autonomous cars also mean less need for parking: they only have to stand still when they have to charge, for example (see that I already assume that these cars will be electric). Think back of the 30 percent urban space that is currently being taken over by parked vehicles that we can reclaim. The possibilities are really endless.
For the time being, autonomous vehicles are of course still a long way off due to, among other things, the lack of government regulation and the technology that is not yet on the point (to drive among unpredictable people). But mobility platforms, public transport, and on-demand services such as Uber are already providing excellent service to meet the changing consumer.
Dare to dream
Where are things going in the mobility landscape? Nobody knows. However, it will be the most flexible players who keep reinventing themselves to offer the best user experience to the customer who remain. And those who dare to dream. The people crazy enough to believe they can change the world, are the ones who do. Within ten years we will hardly recognize the mobility landscape. Bring it on!