Experts agree: transport in cities as well as rural areas will change radically in the coming years, and indeed must. Here, the key question is what might this change actually look like. Which forms of transport and business models (direct sales, subscriptions and sharing) will continue to exist in the long term? Will just a few major players dominate the sector? Or will the market continue to be as dynamic and diverse as it has been? And how can the greatest of all hurdles be overcome – i.e. motivating people to make the mobility transformation reality?
The fact that this can work is shown, for example, by the “Mobility Futures: 2030 Forecast” study by Kantar. According to the market research institute, the mobility turning point will be reached in major cities in 2030. At that point, more people will switch to cycling or public transport, or even go on foot, than people driving cars. This is precisely what is also urgently needed. After all, many cities are facing imminent gridlock. Even in rural areas, there needs to be functional alternatives to personal cars if mobility is to become more climate-friendly.
Car sharing plays a big role
However, cars have so far dominated mobility as well as the vast majority of sharing models. They are intended to motivate people in cities and rural areas to either leave their car at home or share it to prevent gridlock in city centers and reduce the impact on the environment.
The sharing market is fiercely contested, with a huge and extremely fast-paced array of services. This ranges from small and local car-sharing start-ups through to major providers backed by car manufacturers, as well as mobility platforms – from Uber through to local services like the Hamburg shared-taxi project “Moia”. The example “Share now” shows just how dynamic these developments are: the car-sharing cooperation between BMW and Daimler is a free-floating model that does without fixed stations for its cars. Having only been launched in ten European countries last year, “Share now” is already pulling out of a third of its locations. These gaps are instead being filled by local providers.
Another approach is being taken by the platform “Eco Fleet Services”, a cooperation between the City of Heidelberg, the University of Esslingen and the University of Hohenheim, headed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering. From this year, the platform is running trials in Heidelberg to see how company mobility – i.e. company cars combined with external car-sharing providers and public transport – can be used efficiently and operated sustainably.
Micromobility on the advance
Despite the prevalence of cars, alternatives are slowly growing out of their niches. Rental bikes have already been around in huge numbers for quite some time. In the summer of 2019, they were also joined by the first e-scooters and light electric vehicles like Vespas or mopeds in selected European cities. Nonetheless, scooters and similar options will not bring about the mobility transformation alone. But they do have the potential to become an important component of new electric mobility. Particularly in smaller cities or residential areas, as part of the travel chain to get to the nearest train station, for example.
How cities and communities can manage mobility
The mobility transformation does not lie solely in the hands of providers. Change is also needed at the political level. Cities and communities must address the topic to reduce traffic and environmental impact. Gaps in public transport outside city centers also have to be filled. This will only work with well-considered transport concepts tailored to local conditions. Most importantly, attractive alternatives to cars are needed that are also adopted by the public.
The city of Freiburg is a pioneer in this respect. All mobility offers available in the city are combined in a central app – car-sharing, public transport timetables, rental bikes and bike parking facilities. The Hessen Rhine-Main Transport Association recently introduced a low-cost annual ticket for senior citizens, while Luxembourg made local public transport free for everyone. There are all kinds of possibilities.
Not only are these simplification efforts important for successful mobility services, but also for the underlying financial transaction processes, including flexible billing models, dunning and debt collection. The fee models of providers can be just as varied as their offerings. For instance, sharing services may charge per kilometer, day, hour or minute, with prices varying depending on the time of day and users per journey, all combined into a bill. This raises the question of how all this can be consolidated to make life easier for users. The Swedish mobility app UbiGo shows how this can be done. It bundles the fees for different modes of transport into a single bill. With its mobility clearing services, Arvato Financial Solutions likewise has a comprehensive solution available for subscription and order-to-cash, which is highly suited to sharing models. It’s vital to keep a close eye on the sharing market.
Kantar: Mobility Futures, 2030 Forecast, https://www.kantartns.de/presse/pdf/presse/20200211-kantar-mobility-futures-forecast-infographic.pdf