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Mobility services evolve alongside new technologies

The concept of mobility in future is heavily influenced by these technology trends as well as by other social trends. For Example, last mile connectivity solutions like car-sharing, ride-sharing, e-hailing and bike-sharing are beginning to take off in the urban mobility landscape. These services are growing as they emerge as potential solutions for some of the core challenges we face in our cities.

The confluence of technology and social trends has underpinned the growth of the car-sharing market. Advances in vehicle sharing technology are among the biggest drivers for car-sharing, with connectivity playing a big role in making such services more convenient and accessible to customers.  For instance, data analytics is used to predict where demand will spike, thereby ensuring more effective rebalancing of the fleet. In some cases, customers are incentivised to drop off cars in specific locations.

From a long-term perspective, autonomous driving will have a big impact on the car-sharing model. In the mid-term, automated parking will make the customer experience more seamless, but the real impact will be felt only when vehicles become fully automated, at which point car-sharing will start merging with other business models.

Autonomous driving, in conjunction with an intelligent transport ecosystem, is likely is to lead to a paradigm shift in the taxi market as well. The biggest change here would be the reduction in driver cost as the driver forms the largest variable cost component. The second is the improved utilisation of each vehicle as the number of daily trips goes up. However, this does not necessarily mean that the global taxi fleet will shrink, rather, despite higher utilisation rates, demand is expected to continually surge, leading to market growth. From the service operator’s perspective, the total cost of ownership is expected to fall as the impact of the variable costs will be much lower. As an end result, there will be a drop in fares for the consumer.

The current operating model for e-hailing is also expected to evolve. Today, the market is dominated by asset-light technology platforms such as Uber. They provide an online platform, charging a commission for connecting drivers and customers. This model is expected to shift toward an asset-heavy business model. There will still be privately owned, autonomous vehicles that people can rent to the e-hailing firm, but they will now need to diversify into a model that relies on a fleet from others as well as their own.

There will nevertheless be regional variations. Some cities like London and New York are likely to have low private car ownership rates; hence, the e-hailing firm will own its fleets. In suburban regions, however, it could be an asset-light business model where people want to generate revenue from their cars during idle periods.

Smart parking is another market expected to change. Technology has already allowed for the increased utilisation of parking spaces. We are also seeing the growth of peer-to-peer parking and monetisation of data both by cities and by other service providers. A good example of this trend is the move in early 2018 by local government body Transport for London (TfL), which opened all of the parking space data in the London Underground for the first time, allowing third parties to see what spaces were available.

This data monetization scheme not only helped TfL benefit from increased revenue but also presented a way to encourage multi modal transportation by making it easier for people to drive to the station and then catch their trains. In Pisa, a smart parking pilot uses an intelligent parking system that allows motorists to find a free parking space more easily and faster than before, as well as pay for it via their smartphones. Thus, there has been a broadening of portfolios from merely seeing the availability of parking spaces to actually being able to effectively plan ahead. This, together with the ability of booking and paying using a smartphone, underpins the way in which technology is removing some of the barriers to make parking more seamless and stress-free.

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