Future mobility: flexible, borrowed and mixed

The opportunity to use a car without owning one is now a reality and fits in with the ethos of younger generations that place less status on vehicle ownership. In light of this, future intermodality – repeatedly switching between transport modes – is becoming increasingly prevalent. The consumption of mobility is changing as it embraces digitisation, commoditisation and multi-mobility. Therefore, it is necessary for aging urban infrastructure, which limits adaptive capacity, to be modernised to take into account new mobility requirements during planning and construction.

• The business world is also keen to adopt concepts that reduce or better employ their vehicle fleets.

• The obligation to modernise aging urban infrastructure offers the chance to take new mobility requirements into account during planning and construction.

• The consumption of mobility as traditionally practiced is changing to become more multi-mobile and commoditised.

• The structural downward trend in auto-mobility among the young and carless can be explained by the rationale: the younger generation prefers using to owning.

• With the expansion of the sharing economy borrowing is the new owning and an opportunity to enjoy a car without owning a vehicle.

The opportunity to enjoy a car without actually owning one is now a reality. As a result of growing eco-consciousness, resource shortages, skyrocketing gasoline prices, and parking scarcity in urban areas, the car is losing its importance as a status symbol. Car sharing offers an ideal mobility alternative. The promising development in the professional market has caused many providers of the car industry to market for potential part-time drivers. This will in the future lead to even better conditions in price and service.

The young and the carless

However fragmented the publicly available demographic data, car sharing users are predominantly well-educated, male young adults between ages 25 and 45. Living in urban areas, they are either single or childless couples, and tend to belong to middle and middle-upper income household. 

They do not own a car since, for these urban mobility users, there is no good reason for owning one: they tend to rely on non-car forms of urban transport – be it public transport, walking or cycling.

The structural downward trend in ‘auto-mobility’ amongst this demographic group can be explained by a new rational of everyday meaningfulness: this younger generation prefers using to owning.  Another plausible interpretation is that the downward trending incomes for Millennials have constrained their use of private cars, while at the same time new technologies have made car sharing services more accessible and practical.

Corporate car sharing

The business world also greedily adopts new concepts to reduce or alternatively employ their car fleet. With the Alpha City car sharing program for companies, employees use fleet cars professionally, and – when needed – in their private time. In the latter case, the use is settled privately.

Car sharing as a pioneer of e-Mobility

Electric vehicles are increasingly used in corporate e-car sharing fleets. According to Frost & Sullivan, 20% of car-sharing fleets will be battery-powered by 2016, which might drive corporate users to also consider an electric vehicle in their everyday life.

Car sharing in numbers

Car sharing schemes have been established in many cities (e.g. Car2go from Daimler, Drivenow! from BMW & Sixt) and are used by 2.5% of the urban population. While car sharing providers registered almost 50,000 drivers in 1997, the number jumped to around 500,000 in 2013. During this same time period, the car sharing car fleet grew from around 500 to just under 11,000 vehicles.

Future mobility: flexible, borrowed and mixed

Future intermodality – public transport and car sharing are becoming increasingly important. Intermodal mobility, which is switching (repeatedly) between modes of transport such as cars, public transport, cycling or going by foot, is clearly increasing. Cars in particular are experiencing a loss of importance compared to other modes of transport – they are increasingly seen less as a status symbol or expression of individual freedom but, rather, as a transport option among many and, therefore, are used more pragmatically. In this context, the desire for car ownership, particularly in cities and especially among young adults, is decreasing. 

Car sharing concepts are becoming very popular. The number of car owners in the age group 18 to 24 decreased by 44% between 2000 and 2010.

In the age group of 18 to 39, 36% more car sharing is attainable by 2020. At the same, existing public transport, cycling and footpath networks will be expanded and improved, so that inter- and multi-modality will be possible and fostered. Public transport will be multi-modally anchored and converted to electro-mobility, in order to lessen the loss of importance compared to electric cars and to act as the backbone in intermodal transport.

Our 24/7 society today is characterized not only by a growing demand for mobility, but also by an increasing variety of mobility forms. Whether commuting to work, going to school, family or doctor visits, shopping and leisure activities, we are traveling to more places than ever before. More than ever, our lives are happening in between places.

The consumption of mobility as we have practiced it for decades is experiencing an historic turning point. We are entering a new commoditized and multi-mobile age. We are witnessing the beginning of the multi-mobile era

Today we face challenges such as sustainability, new energy infrastructure and post-fossil mobility concepts. And there’s a need to find solutions for more efficiently networked cities, intelligent transport systems and services, and end-to-end solutions for personal transport.

Mixing and matching different means of transport will increase the security, speed and flexibility of road users. The future will see an increase of combined mobility, which today already exists in these forms:

  • Park + Ride = car / motorcycle and bus or train
  • Bike + Ride = bicycle and public transport
  • Kiss + Ride = drop-off zones for passengers at public transport hubs
  • Park + Pool = carpooling with start / end at a car park near a motorway/bypass
  • Car-sharing = organised community use of one or more cars

Whether combining motorized with public transport or a bicycle with a bus ride – a seamless transition between different means of transport is of vital importance in order for mixed mobility to become a success. To create functioning mobility chains and thus improve the framework conditions for combined mobility, all interested parties need to coordinate their traffic and spatial development.

The future of urban public transport lies in mobility systems that will provide bicycles, cars and other mobility services on demand. Most mobility assets will be shared instead of owned by users. Convenient and reliable lifestyle services will be offered to connected citizens who will be able to easily access these combined mobility services via their smartphones” – Johan Peter Paludan. The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies

Combined mobility services are a smart alternative to car ownership in a rapidly urbanising world, as they are more tailored to customer needs and better suited to metropolitan environments. For those public transport operators who are able to innovate and turn public transport services into combined mobility services, these developments offer a real opportunity to deliver sustainable growth over the next decades.

The importance of infrastructure

Ageing urban infrastructure limits the adaptive capacity to the impact of mobility.  The infrastructure in many cities in Germany (and worldwide) is out-dated due to insufficient investment funds. This restricts the capacity of cities to adequately adapt to the mobility needs in the field of multi-modal mobility concepts and electric mobility.

At the same time, the obligation to modernise infrastructure offers the chance to take new mobility requirements into account during construction. Today, competition for innovative and sustainable mobility concepts is on the rise, fuelled by European and national funding. The results, for example, have been the use of physical models for planning the flow of traffic in cities, which reduces congestion as well as fuel consumption.

The end of boundless freedom

Mobility expenses continue to rise, but the future is not necessarily faster. It is not the top speed that determines the mobile society of tomorrow, but the mode of transportation and how we actually arrive “best” at our destination

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.