In a world that’s rapidly changing, transportation is still slowing us down. It’s time for a new revolution in mobility and convenience.
Once upon a time, driving was a joy, cars were viewed as “freedom machines” and a reflection of our identity and independence. But this has come at a price. Our decades-long obsession with cars has led to unbearable congestion in cities, increased pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, lost time and stress. It’s clear that our current urban mobility structure just isn’t sustainable; in fact, it’s at breaking point.
So what comes in its place? What has been emerging over the years is a system that puts commuters back in control, giving them more information and options for varied transportation that is intelligently integrated and digitally facilitated.
The growth of the share economy teamed with new technology and business models has been at the forefront of these radical changes. People can now rely on shared bikes, cars, and real-time data, to get them easily from A to B.
According to DriveNow and car2go’s recent joint customer study, 37% of users surveyed have sold their car, and over half of them stated that the reason for this was that free floating car-sharing had replaced their need for one (54%).
The younger generation is also turning its back on car ownership. In the US, recent studies show a huge decline in auto sales among the millennial marketplace. This is being attributed to a lack of interest – no longer is it necessary to be the guy with the “cool ride”, as identities are defined by what’s online. To put it into perspective: this demographics’ parents – the babyboomers – were young adults when the Ford Mustang came on the market. A lot has happened since then, so a lot more needs to happen to engage the digital natives.
There are also more appealing options. Why drive when your smartphone can be your transportation? Your phone can offer a simple mobility experience, locating you, connecting you with a driver, and enabling a low-cost digital payment.
Next up we have the growth of the multimodel experience; for instance, riding your flexible ebike from the metro to your shared car, and receiving traffic congestion and parking availability data on your smartphone before you put the keys in the ignition.
Then there’s the big innovations – the unimaginable becoming possible. New players are shaking up the automotive game (we’re looking at you Google and Apple), and forcing the big guys to take change seriously. We’ve seen a race towards the creation of the the first automated (yes, driverless) cars and even buses, as well as self-driving ‘pod’ vehicles. The beauty of the pod, which can be anything from a small, plastic, easy to clean vehicle that exists purely to transport, to a lounge-room on wheels, is that it brings freedom back to mobility. If you didn’t have to drive, what would you be doing in the back of the pod? It’s your choice.
So many possibilities, but where do we go next?
The future is looking bright, but if the right ecosystem of collaboration isn’t in place between public and private sectors then there will be no structure to drive these innovations forward.
Large organizations need to learn to be agile and welcome new alliances – particularly between automakers and tech companies – rather than fearing them. And governments and investors need to be involved to make cities intelligent. The challenge will be to literally lay the foundation for change: what systems will replace traffic lights in an era of autonomous vehicles? How can we process and filter data to ensure it’s more accurate and complete? Is there a policy in place that outlines who is responsible for an accident when a car is in autonomous mode?
This is only the beginning of the journey, and there are many questions to be addressed. But if we keep steering in the right direction and companies continue to create new digital business models and innovative ideas that transform the way we travel, then we can break free of our global gridlock. We’re looking forward to a future with better solutions and more options, so we can again truly enjoy the mobility experience.