5 mobility trends for the post-Covid journey

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Across Europe, the use of public transport has fallen sharply and it does not look like it will pick up anytime soon.

London Underground passengers have fallen to 3% of pre-Covid levels, peaking at just 40% in June. In Madrid, metro use also peaked in June, but has only reached that 63% pre-Covid The figures. Parisian public transport is blocked at 50% of pre-pandemic levels, with Transilien director Sylvie Charles warning that they might never come back to previous use.

So what will our daily journeys look like after Covid? What new startups have emerged and seek to offer more affordable and sustainable transport alternatives? From electromobility to offices on trains and employee benefits, here’s what experts predict.

Sharing is loving

More and more, commuters are looking for simple solutions that will not only save them money, but are also better for the planet – and that means moving away from personal cars, which spend 96% of their time stopped.

And there are a lot of alternatives in the works; 2021 is already a record year for investments in European mobility startups at all stages, with € 1bn more raised than the 2019 peak of 1.2 billion euros. Shared mobility is particularly conducive to opportunities, and the market exceeds $ 60 billion across China, Europe and the United States – but what is it?

“Shared mobility is anything you can use that doesn’t belong to you. Carsharing, bicycles, electric bicycles and scooters are all good examples, ”says Gil Laser, CEO of GoTo, a multimodal car sharing service that allows users to switch between electric cars, bikes and scooters with just one app. Shared mobility means that the cost of the trip or vehicle is shared among users, creating the experience of a private vehicle in a sharing model.

Credit: GoTo Global

And the argument for the cost advantage of shared mobility will only grow. As our big cities become more and more populated, it suffices to less than 75% of Europe the population now lives in cities, up from 52% in 1950 – space is limited. This means that all generations are giving up car ownership, says Laser.

“It’s obvious millennials and millennials don’t care about ownership like previous generations did, but we are seeing clients of all ages. Our target audience is 30 to 55 years old and their motivation is to move from point A to point B as easily as possible, ”he says. “It is not a question of a generation, but of the needs of the citizen. “

It’s obvious that Millennials and Gen Z don’t care about property like previous generations did. “

Abandon the company car

Reinvent travel in big cities alongside the telework boom means we’ll likely see a change in the company’s commuting policy.

Instead of gas-guzzling company cars or expensive rail subscriptions, Laser says we can expect to see a shift towards employers reducing office space and parking space, and focusing on transportation credits when you need them. .

“We have already seen a lot of employees return company cars and ask for higher wages.”

“We’ve already seen a lot of employees return company cars and ask for higher wages,” says Laser. “Add in the companies that are reducing office space, and we expect to see a huge trend in mobility credits. Employers can create mobility portfolios for employees and add fixed amounts each month for trips by scooters, bicycles or other shared mobility services.

Mobility as an experience

The pandemic has undoubtedly set the course for digital transformation across all industries, and daily commutes are no different. Digital solutions enable new ways of traveling, such as carpooling and shared mobility, but they also facilitate planning, reservation and payment systems.

This will lead to an increased focus on the user experience, says Svenja Polst, engineering psychologist at Fraunhofer IESE, specializing in mobility.

“In the past, mobility providers owned vehicles like taxis, buses and cars. With digitization, mobility providers are now offering services rather than vehicles. Suppliers need to think about how best to meet a user’s needs, ”she says.

“Ppublic transport providers do not sufficiently take user needs into account.

In a climate of remote working, health concerns and reducing carbon emissions, this means considering why people travel in the first place. rather than just moving them from point A to point B.

“Mobility service providers need to consider the purpose of travel much more when designing their services. For example, why not offer office-type spaces on trains to be able to work on the go? The design of the vehicle can be adjusted to take into account the reasons people travel, ”she says. “In many places, public transport providers do not sufficiently take into account the needs of users. “

Electrify travel

2020 has been a tough year for the auto industry, but electric vehicles (EVs) are on the rise. A record of 3m electric cars were recorded last year, 41% more than in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Many public transport systems are also seeing an evolution towards electric buses and trams.

While the growth of electric vehicles will have a positive effect on reducing carbon emissions, it will also create a faster and more stable overall transition to sustainable energy use, said Professor Wolfgang Ketter, director of the Institute. of Energy Economics from the University of Cologne.

“The more we supply our energy grids with solar and wind power, the more we need electricity ‘demand flexibility’ to compensate for variations in supply. Sometimes the sun is shining less or the wind is less powerful than expected, ”Ketter told Sifted, explaining that EV batteries can be used to store electricity, with the inverters then being used to send electricity back into the grid. central when supply is low – known as smart charging.

Sometimes the sun is shining less or the wind is less powerful than expected… electric mobility offers the flexibility we will need to maintain the balance of networks.

“Electric mobility offers the flexibility we will need to keep the networks in balance,” he says.

A less painful journey …

Ketter tells Sifted that AI will increasingly play a role in coordinating our transportation.

“In a few years, companies with fleets of electric vehicles – like shared mobility services – will use AI to coordinate their vehicles as virtual power plants. They will use learning agents to determine which vehicles could earn more by providing local demand flexibility, ”says Ketter.

Laser sees AI as the key to the success of shared mobility business models.

“Commuters and transport users will only become dependent on shared transport and reject vehicle ownership if they can be sure that there will be a car on the nearby street or a bicycle waiting for them at the station. The AI ​​that predicts demand is the key to making it happen.

Startups like the Rotterdam-based smart charger Jedlix and the smart energy platform of London Kaluza are already pushing smart charging at the consumer level, connecting and storing the power of millions of smart devices, before using AI to manage the cheapest and most environmentally friendly time to charge them.

Credit: Jedlix

“In the future, AI will manage the flexibility of demand by pricing all aspects of mobility. It is no longer just private or shared vehicles, but all costs related to transport, such as traffic jams, pollution and travel time. The AI ​​will make it easier for you to choose the best option for you, ”adds Ketter.

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