The Evolution of conventional transport systems..

15 March 2019 new emerging mobility services and platforms

The evolution of transportation, in similar fashion to humankind evolution, has gone through trials and tribulations as it has evolved through time. The world is ever-changing, at a faster pace than ever before and with increasing mobility demand and evolving mobility needs, transport providers of all kinds (private cars or other means of transport such as buses and train lines) have to satisfy demand for services that are increasingly convenient, fast and predictable.

Changes in consumer habits in recent years demonstrate that some users are prepared to sacrifice individual forms of mobility, such as the private car, in favour of other modes of transport that
offer these features. This has led to the successful introduction and rapid penetration of new mobility solutions. Meanwhile, traditional mobility ecosystems have diversified, employing a wider array of actors, and the emergence of new concepts, such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), have forced them to re-organize interactions between them as they strive for the system optimum. As exhibited in our photo below, whether in maritime, road or air, humankind has constantly strives to improve its mobility and transport means on a consistent basis.

The recent “Mobility Services Merger” announced by BMW and Daimler a few months ago, has now been officially approved by both US and EU Commission regulators (amid fears of a monopoly being created and strict guidelines having to be followed) and is a clear indicator as to the route down which transport companies are choosing to take. Following last weeks’ blog on the merger of Ford and Volkswagen for the development of their autonomous vehicles, BMW Group and Daimler AG are pooling their mobility services to create a new global player providing sustainable urban mobility for customers. The cooperation The deal will see the two – formerly – rival manufacturers bring together services in different areas with 5 (five) joint ventures: REACH NOW for multimodal services, CHARGE NOW for charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking and SHARE NOW for car-sharing, with the aim of becoming a “leading provider” in the mobility market. From the first mass-produced and tremendously affordable Ford Model T in 1908 to

Let’s go back to the beginning though..Since the introduction of both the private car and modern public transport at the turn of the 19th century, not much seems to have changed in terms of urban mobility provision, at a functional level. Whether we are talking about the original FORD T model produced in 1908, the first train in 1890 or the first motorised urban bus developed by Daimler-Benz in 1895 it is easy to identify that the private model (privately-owned car for personal, on-demand use, door-to-door transport) or shared mass transport models ( time-tabled, line-based, station-to-station shared mass public transport) are already well established and accepted in everyday society. Indeed, both models have improved enormously in terms of comforts and safety but nonetheless, one may argue they still simply serve the same purpose as they did all those years ago. When it comes down to functionality, both models have undergone little changes in more than a century since their invention – other than the obvious cosmetic improvements – but have not had much impact on modal choices, apart from when necessity dictates such a modal shift. In most cities around the world, public transport is used to simply avoid time-wasting, congestion, parking charges and other issues but nonetheless the private car is often still the preferred choice for most of us. However, in the past, having a car was indeed a symbol of status and success in life, whereas nowadays that is less and less reality. On the contrary, millennials are often heard discussing the benefits of NOT having their own vehicle, using car-sharing services and simply “Uber-ing” everywhere with a tap on their phone. Societal and cultural changes have hence imposed a change to the mobility industry and companies have simply had to follow. In the last 15 years, many new players/tech startups and other entered the market all over Europe, and in other regions with new platforms and mobility services such as docked bike rental services and docked, free-floating short-term car rental.

Nonetheless, until only recently (and perhaps the past 5 years) their offerings accelerated frantically, with dockless electric bikes and scooters, as well as ride-hailing platforms appearing worldwide and being used on a daily basis by members of the public. In many cities where the necessary data is available, it has been demonstrated that new mobility services and modal choices offer great benefits to urban mobility, sustainable development and greener options. On the flip side however, we have also seen many protests, (particularly where the new ride-hailing businesses such as Uber), cause for regulatory conflict and even extreme cases of vandalism with dockless bike-sharing platforms.

What is more – and on a separate note – Transport sector emissions are considered one of the manor source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants (such as particulate matter) and consequently have a negative effect on the planet and can specifically contribute to both global warming and public health issues on a local level as seen in many Asian countries. Companies are hence also trying to minimise their carbon footprint whilst providing modern, environmentally friendly technologies in order to create a greener transport system. Digitalized mobility solutions, whether multimodal Mobility as a Service (MaaS) applications or separate services such as car sharing,  offer societies an alternative to private vehicle ownership and use. The potential that shared mobility services have to reduce emissions and vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) as already seen is enormous and hence explains the “rapid” industry growth in the past few years.

Conclusively, it is vital for Transport and Mobility solutions providers to not only anticipate future trends and challenge the robustness of their current business models but also question whether future evolutions are being correctly foreseen to avoiding being reactive rather than proactive. Crucially. companies need to innovate by defining clear visions and identifying new business models and solutions, with a view to either reinventing themselves or finding new growth, whilst at the same time improving the classical business and operating model and providing value to the ever more demanding users worldwide. It is hence evident that companies need to transform themselves on many levels in terms of culture, organizational structure, ways of working and competences, in order to achieve the defined vision and embark on the journey from the past to the new world.

In next weeks’ blog we will be discussing the over-saturation of players in the Transport and Mobility market and focus on the latest merger of BMW & Daimler with a plan for their 60 million customers to benefit from a seamlessly integrated, sustainable ecosystem of car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multimodal transport services.

Article by Nicholas Kalavas for Y-Mobility

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