Technology trends, behavioural changes and sustainability are going to shape the future of mobility in the coming decades. Now, more than ever, is the time to holistically rethink mobility for both passengers and freight transport.
Current trends in passenger mobility may be drastically affected by emerging innovative trends such as:
- Autonomous driving. Robotaxis could become a cheaper option than private vehicles in urban environments and could potentially account for ~4% of miles travelled by 2030 and ~35% by 2040 according to a study by McKinsey. Autonomous driving will allow mobility providers to offer rides at a lower per mile cost than private vehicles and reduce accidents by >90% (human error). Public transport will remain the most affordable option, although shared robotaxis could be competitive.
- Electrification of vehicles. Increasing renewable power generation will make electric vehicles more attractive as a way of reducing the carbon intensity of the transport sector and large-scale electric vehicle production would accelerate the drop in battery costs, with multiple knock-on effects. By 2030, 18-26% of passenger cars should be electrified. Customer demand and regulation will play a key role in driving transformation.
- Shared mobility. Consumers expect to keep using passenger cars for transport, with increased usage of public and shared mobility in the next 15 years, with high annual growth rates. Nowadays, the shared mobility market is already worth about USD 53 bn in the USA, Europe and China.
- Micromobility. We believe micromobility will emerge intact and thrive in the long term. Indeed, our estimates for 2030 predict a 5 to 10% increase in the number of passenger-kilometres travelled because of a growth in customer demand, public incentives and post Covid-19 social distancing practices.
Potential business models may vary depending on the types of technology and how much they grow in the coming years. Trends for regulatory frameworks, the digital sphere and GDP after Covid-19 crisis could be key drivers in this.
On the other side, when we talk about freight mobility, we need to start from the e-commerce disruption that is having an impact on both people and goods transportation. Without a doubt, there is a certain degree of interdependence between the transportation of goods and people, with a high-level calculation showing about 30% of e-commerce-related delivery traffic potentially being offset by a reduction in individual shopping traffic (Source WEF).
While the full implications of COVID-19 are still unknown, it is clear the impact on retail is already significant. Emerging evidence points to a significant shift, as customers scale back their shopping in stores and go online instead.
In the past decade, e-commerce has risen significantly. According to a World Economic Forum study, from 2014 to 2019, e-commerce sales ratios nearly tripled globally and this trend has been driven by a multitude of different factors: urbanisation and the increasing purchasing power of the middle class, an increasing customer base worldwide, a growing range of products that can be purchased online and the emergence of new digital business models, as well as technological advancements in the delivery segments that allow for instant and time-definite delivery.
The “last mile” is facing a time of great change for 2 main reasons: first, consumers order more and more things online, expecting higher service levels and, secondly, new “disruptive” technologies, such as droids and drones, are shaking up entire delivery chains. Emerging tech players such as Uber Freight and Postmates are changing the competitive dynamics of the landscape. However, these developments also have a downside: inner cities are struggling with traffic congestion and air pollution due to the increasing number of delivery vehicles (and their emissions) and double parking. Some cities predict that, if no action is taken, inner-city traffic will be seriously disrupted over the next three years.
These developments are not surprising, but they are challenging because they are not linear. They are interwoven in complex ways that reinforce their speed and magnitude, making it more and more important in the coming years to further develop sustainable solutions such as Urban Consolidation Centres (UCCs) - locations, typically on the outskirts of cities, where deliveries are brought, sorted, and then dispatched - that could be a key element for congested metropolitan areas.
There is another fast-emerging and relevant topic that is strictly linked to the effects of the rise of e-commerce:logistics in the cities of the future.
As mentioned before, urban logistics will be under pressure in the near future. With UCCs, goods from multiple suppliers can be consolidated into fewer shipments, making it possible to optimise loads and truck sizes, thus cutting the number of trips and vehicles required. While UCCs have been around for years, success has been spotty. The business case is becoming stronger, however, as new technologies make implementation easier and the expansion of e-commerce makes it more urgent. In a city like New York, we estimate the use of UCCs could save companies 25 per cent on delivery costs per parcel, while reducing miles driven by almost half.
In the coming years, UCCs can help reduce delivery costs, emissions and mileage, playing an important role in decarbonisation.
Electrification, shared mobility, autonomous driving, UCCs, etc. will be pillars of the mobility of the future, which will require a profound shift in thinking to capture the opportunities offered by new technologies to become completely sustainable.