• Maximilian Mayer

A new year in mobility: lessons learned and challenges ahead

An optimistic view on what's to come


2021 brought even more needed creative adaptations to traditional mobility business models, in light of the new normal. Although the challenges were plenty and the work was hard, last year came with a lot of hope for new sustainable practices that will curb global climate change.


Mobility start-ups are complementing the offerings of traditional mobility providers while at the same time increasingly competing with them. Over the past 5 years, they have attracted an average of $37 billion in investment capital worldwide almost every year - a total of 183 billion dollars. Investments in mobility start-ups worldwide actually grew by five percent year-on-year to $37.5 billion in 2020.


Where are we today?


Consumer behaviour. The shift in consumer behaviour had a particularly major impact on how mobility has been evolving during the pandemic years. Companies are steadily coming to terms with the fact that there’s no turning back and that remote work is here to stay, therefore they will likely be forced to adopt formal policies, processes and systems that allow them to operate in a hybrid environment going forward, instead of implementing a temporary fix. As a result, new mobility trends will become the new norm.


Collective mentality. Moreover, we continued seeing changes in how society functions, and this included a shift in the types of transportation people are willing to use. One thing remains constant: people want easy and accessible mobility in both urban and rural areas. We’re seeing an increase in shared mobility usage instead of personal vehicles, and we expect this trend to accelerate in the years to come as many younger adults living in dense urban areas are reluctant to invest in vehicle purchases and upkeep.


Innovations. More than ever, the mobility industry continues to invest in ground-breaking innovations. Advancing autonomous driving, connected vehicles, sustainable and smart city transportation, and the use of mobility as a service (MaaS).


Autonomy. In more recent years, several lifestyle trends have arisen, particularly with adults who are comfortable with technology, that have influenced the mobility industry. Increasingly, we see a growing desire for the development and use of assisted driving and increasingly automated vehicles. Meanwhile, concerns over safety and security issues indicate that we may be a long way from truly seeing highways dominated by self-driving vehicles.


Micromobility. 2021 was the year micromobility as a concept, a solution and a way of life really started to settle in. Increased shared micromobility and COVID-ridden public transit helped make small electric vehicles mainstream enough for people to wrap their heads around purchasing their own. Consequently, 2021 was the year of the e-bike, with a growth rate in sales of 240% over the 12 months leading up to July. This new normal resulted in cities adopting infrastructure plans that would have truly been unbelievable a decade ago. 2021 was also the year that people, particularly people in cities, began talking openly about the impact of micromobility on emissions reduction, which is undoubtedly greater than the advent of the electric car.


Where are we heading?


As a company that’s actively contributing to the future of mobility and smart cities, we cannot help but rejoice at the amazing evolution of the industry over the past couple of years. In circumstances where few people believed shared mobility will even survive the change in status quo, it managed to come out shining brightly on the other side. If we can do this, we can do so much more.


And that’s precisely what we plan to achieve in 2022. With more data on consumer behaviour and on mobility operators’ struggles, we’re confident we’ll reach new territories in terms of innovation and profitability in shared mobility.


A very common problem that shared mobility faces on its path to meet demand is an efficient utilization and management of the fleet. GreenGo identified this issue and teamed up with Ubiq into making sure that vehicles are in the right place at the right time, in order to meet demand.

Ubiq’s AI-driven rebalancing engine scans GreenGo’s fleet in realtime to see which vehicles are eligible for repositioning, providing an optimal new location for each car. An alert is then sent via the StreetCrowd app to StreetCrowd members - ordinary citizens paid and managed by Ubiq - who then execute the repositioning. Users simply sign up to Ubiq’s StreetCrowd app and can do as little or as many vehicle moves as they like.



A look into the future - insights and predictions


Since our predictions for 2021, the market adapted and shifted even more, becoming more and more stable and so did we, as a company and as a sturdy participant in the market. This year finds us optimistic about the future of mobility, but equally aware of the common effort all the players need to put into it to make a profitable and sustainable future happen. This is our insight into what is to come.


  • Usership will gain even more traction in the cities. We know that privately owned cars spend 95% of their time parked somewhere. Therefore, it’s refreshing to see that, particularly for residents in cities, the economics of directly owning a car seem to be changing, as alternatives such as ride-hailing and carsharing services are becoming more transparent and available, and as low-emissions zones are introduced. Car sharing has seen increased levels of popularity over recent years thanks to a growing demand among millennials. And it’s unsurprising, since it fits very well with users’ needs of convenience and flexibility. The simple action of getting from A to B is nowadays spoiled for options, and the services choice list keeps expanding. According to a Guidehouse Insights report, urban mobility revenue will rise from $11.1 billion in 2018 to $39.8 billion in 2027. Peer-to-peer MaaS is proving that money can be made from our own vehicles, so owning a car can now have other, profitable usages. And with a new generation of consumers developing a behavior which is more and more towards a shared future of mobility, we can see how the usership movement can become the norm. You will always be able to buy a car, but what’s clearly changed is what you can do with the car when you don’t use it.

  • We will see more cross-model cooperation. The integrated use of several different forms of transport will shape our travel, cities and even society for the decades to come. Demand-responsive transport will allow users to access areas where sustainable transportation is developed. This enables them to reach bicycle or scooter rental stations, which is typically impossible right from their own residential area. Through multimodal transportation sustainability objectives can be met and passengers will be enabled to reduce their CO2 emissions and contribute to environmental protection. With mobility hubs taking the centre stage more and more in European cities, it is clear that various players in mobility are working together more and more to push the cross-model forward.

  • EV charging infrastructure will be met with a major demand increase. It’s safe to say that the EV charging infrastructure will grow, but we dare to say that we could witness the first time ever when we’ll have more electric vehicles on the streets than charging stations. While not an ideal situation, it’s actually a very positive outcome following the evolution of consumer behaviour in the past years. There is a rise in electric vehicle sales dramatically in China and Europe - despite the pandemic - showing signs of active market growth during the forecast period. Factors, such as the increasing cost of fuel and the government initiatives across different geographies to increase awareness about EVs, are expected to promote the usage of electric vehicles.

  • Bikes and e-bikes will be the main protagonists of micromobility. In the US, bike sales went through the roof during the global pandemic. Bloomberg recently shared some statistics on what this increase looks like, with unit sales of electric bikes that cost between $1,500 and $2,000 grew at a whopping rate of 176% from September 2020 to 2021. A potential new US law will only feed this growth, with policy-makers eyeing a 30% tax credit for up to $3,000 spent on a new e-bike.

  • Shared mobility market will become more proactive and predictive. Based on our experience in working with clients in 12 cities in Europe and North America, we can say that shared mobility operators are beginning to understand the importance of being proactive in the market. For any type of vehicle, the reality is the same: in order to meet demand, the vehicles need to be in the right place at the right time. If the higher utilisation potential of a vehicle is reached, one can easily run the same quality service with fewer vehicles. Vehicle utilisation certainly has its limits, such as during the night or during maintenance. Under these conditions, increasing the usability rate is possible to the point where it can make all the difference to a company’s profitability. More and more operators are identifying and meeting demand, as it occurs in real time, by knowing where the demand will be in advance - a vital information for operators. This will gain more and more traction and we’re happy we have the right tools to make it happen for the shared mobility providers.


The industry is ready


For a new year, for new challenges, but more importantly, it’s ready to build a profitable and sustainable future. It has shown outstanding resilience and power to adapt and it’s mostly because it’s such an important piece in achieving less congested cities and a cleaner world. Coming together has never been more important than now and more and more people are beginning to understand it. As for us, we’ll continue growing and learning, while contributing as much as we can.

 

Ubiq enables operators to effectively position fleets to serve strategic goals. For more information, contact sales@ubiq.ai