2019 – a great year for the automotive and transport industries!

March 5, 2019

HighMobility price screenThe automotive and transportation industries are both significant contributors to our urban and planet challenges. I have been focusing on these two industries for some years since I believe both can change relatively quickly thus become major contributors to our ability to meet the sustainability goals and stop ruin our planet. And even better, they can drive rapid change themselves without being forced by legislators which opens a classic opportunity for innovative players to gain massive brand equity. And this time it’s for a good cause and not just by adding features, design and marketing dollars.

This is a technology opportunity that is fundamentally IoT and data driven. IoT is used to connect vehicles, their users and owners, infrastructure like road signs, roads and parking space to the internet. Relevant data are collected from these devices and combined with data from other sources like car registries, weather data and road data bases. The data are carefully and responsibly made available through different standardised APIs to ecosystems with service providers like insurance, car pools, public transportation, parking, scooter services and taxi. And different initiatives, typically a city or an enterprise, chose an ecosystem for their efforts driving the shift from very inefficient use of personal vehicles to shared services with many times better utilisation of the resources. This is true both for transportation of people and goods.

The often used term for the ultimate solution is Mobility-as-a-Service or MaaS, which have been talked about for many years. But up until now we have rather seen more vehicles on the streets and roads than better utilisation of the ones we already have. Car sharing services have been rolled out fighting for the same few parking lots and adding up to the jam already in place. And in many cases they already have been shut down like Autolib in Paris and in Stockholm car2go and DriveNow. Connected bicycles and scooters have been added and in some cases also already been shut down or stopped by city authorities. An average car in a city around the world is used around 3-4% of the time which obviously is massive waste of space, money and the planet.

I believe 2019 will be a great year for the transportation and automotive industries! This will be the year when the car makers start share the real-life car data they collect with third-party developers in real-time. There are probably many reasons for why this happen now but I chose to be believe it is because they have concluded that is a great way to drive change in their industry and that innovative car makers following this trend will gain a lot of Brand Equity and commercial success. In order to develop services across brands and models a “neutral server” is needed to add a standardised layer on top of the proprietary car data. Some companies have come quite far with that already and my personal favourite is High Mobility who work closely with some of the German car makers. They already have som data from Daimler, BMW and Mini available and I believe these first movers will make the other follow quickly and due to the transparency which data is made available and pricing, will become harmonised rapidly. At Tantalum (acquired Springworks recently) where I work, we have been waiting for this to happen and are already working on how to turn the data released into true value for service providers and cities as well as the users and owners of the vehicles.

The second major thing that will happen in the mobility market 2019 is that we finally will see the first mobility ecosystems being launched. This will lead to more data-driven innovation in the mobility market but more importantly the first limited Mobility-as-a-Service offerings being launched. I am involved in discussions with cities who are eager to see MaaS services in their cities as well as enterprises who want to offer their employees MaaS services instead of combinations of company cars, rental cars, public transportation and taxi. In both cases they are going after commercial benefits and to position themselves as doers when it comes to the sustainability challenges and corporate responsibility. The first ones will typically solve the easier parts of a MaaS service like integration of public transportation and parking services but the real challenges are to integrate cars, busses and trucks in the services which is why we at Tantalum started there. An event to recognise is the recent joint Daimler and BMW announcement about combining several vehicle related services including myTaxi, car2go and DriveNow under one umbrella. But there are many other activities in this field and I hope all cities in the world start working seriously on this now. Every single success here will make us all winners!

Advertisements

For Mobility-as-a-Service to save the planet we need to focus on people and infrastructure not technology and gadgets

November 29, 2018

181129 Le Point articleUrbanisation continuously increases the challenge for cities to be good places to visit, live and work in. Cities today are more or less always designed around cars and today it is impossible to add roads and parking to meet the ever-growing demand. Investments in public transportation, bicycle lanes and streets for walking to reduce the number of cars in the cities are expensive but even worse, takes long to implement. Since each city has its own unique situation the responsibility to deal with the issue has fallen in the knees of city administrations rather than nations. But at the same time traffic infarct in cities has severe sustainability impact to the country and the planet.

It is clear why Urban Mobility is on the agenda today. According to EU over 60% of European citizens are living in urban areas of over 10 000 inhabitants. Urban mobility accounts for 40% of all CO2 emissions of road transport and up to 70% of other pollutants from transport. Congestion in the EU is often located in and around urban areas and costs nearly EUR 100 billion, or 1% of the EU’s GDP, annually. There we go: global warming, pollution, frustration, waste of time and waste of money are just some of the problems caused. At the same time I’ve learnt from my years with Springworks that average trips with cars are 3-4 km and takes 9-10 minutes, and cars are typically used less than 4% of the time. In essence we ruin the planet when we make cars, use cars and trash cars. In between they are standing in the way and cost a lot of money.

A couple of years ago the concept of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) was invented as the remedy to all these issues. Ever since cities have been flooded with new fleets including bicycles, scooters, cars and everything in between, and they come in different versions including roaming, stationary, electrical and combustion. This has definitely not improved the situation, rather the opposite since we continue to add vehicles instead of improve the utilisation of the ones we have and start remove vehicles. In Stockholm where I live we have colourful roaming bicycles and electrified scooters all over the place. Operators of fleets come and go and some even leave some “vehicles” behind when leaving. Car2Go abandoned Stockholm late 2016 with some 5000 users and 250 cars and DriveNow left Stockholm some weeks ago both blaming parking cost, road tolls and too few customers. There are similar stories in other cities including the mother of electrical car pools, Autolib in Paris with over 4,000 cars, 3,200 docking stations and 150,000 subscribers, which was shut down this summer. But even when these vehicles are used it is by people who already are in the city and it primarily replace use of public transportation, cycling and walking. And since each of the mobility services are operated in isolation they don’t contribute to MaaS yet.

I am deeply worried about our planet and have decided to focus my efforts on the Urban Mobility issues since I believe there we can make a big and quick difference if we really want to. The challenge is complex but enormous amounts are invested in the mobility space why I believe the key to the solution is cities orchestrating all components and initiatives using a systematic approach (in Sweden we say make everyone pull in the same direction) aiming at MaaS.

One of my core beliefs is that each city need a Mobility-as-a-Service platform to start gather different transportation related services on and make them available to companies who develop transportation services to citizens, visitors and organisations. A service platform like that needs to support all types of urban mobility related services, multi-lateral business relationships, data integrity, financial transactions and have to be very agile, secure, robust and scalable. I’m not aware of any platform meeting those requirements today but the Springworks SPARK platform meets all except the financial transaction support and we are continuously looking for more partners and cities who want to be among the first to deploy their first versions of MaaS IRL.


%d bloggers like this: