Splytsights on Micro-Mobility

Welcome to the first edition of Splytsights. Here you will find insights into the urban mobility market and industry trends. This inaugural edition of Splytsights explores: What role will Micro-Mobility play in the Future of Transport?

By 2050 more than 60% of the world’s growing population will live in urban areas, leading to severe increase in congestion and overcrowding. Changing attitudes towards car ownership and smart city planning will be required to shape a new format of urban mobility. These changes will not only require the introduction of new modes of transport, such as Car sharing, e-hailing, ride-pooling, but also the coupling of these transport modes with new technology to completely reimagine the ways in which passengers travel from A to B in an urban landscape.

With changing attitudes towards urban transport one new concept emerging is the idea of first/last mile connectivity - the initial and final lengths of a passenger’s trip from door to door. One new category of vehicles aim to address this issue: Micro-Mobility.

Micro-mobility refers to a new type of vehicle that is emerging and is designed to transport one or two passengers across a short distance. Examples of micro-mobility vehicles include small electric cars, e-bikes and e-scooters. These vehicles are designed to allow passengers to achieve a seamless and congestion free door-to-door travel experience by complementing the use of transportation modes such as public transport and car-sharing with micro-mobility solutions.

Is there a market potential for these vehicles?

Micro-Mobility vehicle can refer to any mode of transportation that is designed to sustainably transport a small number of people across a short distance. This flexible transportation concept is already on the radar of the global car manufacturing industry. Frost and Sullivan predicts that more than 150 (Micro-Mobility) models will be launched by over 25 key global mainstream automakers in the global micro-mobility market by 2020. This already holds true as Honda has announced an electric scooter EV NEO 2, General Motors has partnered with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group to develop EN-V3 and Volkswagen aims to sell it’s electric bike (Bike.e) together with it’s cars, to cover the first/last mile for car users.

This scramble to develop new and innovative micro-mobility solutions is underpinned by positive market predictions. IDTechEx analysts forecast that the micro EVs and personal transportation devices market will reach a size of $33 billion by 2026 and Frost & Sullivan researchers predict potential sales of 280,000 units of micro cars in 2017 in Europe alone(550,000 sales under the optimistic scenario).

What is driving these high predictions?

With the rise of smart cities and interconnected transport modes one question remains open - does ride-sharing and public transport satisfy the customer’s desire for immediate door-to-door travel? One of the downsides of many of the currently proposed solutions to address global urban mobility issues is the inability to facilitate door-to-door travel and provide passengers with the flexibility to dynamically adjust routes. Additionally with an ageing population in developed nations the need for more on-demand, cost effective solutions, creates a niche for the micro-mobility vehicle to flourish.

A McKinsey report further highlights that the number of car-sharing members in the USA and Germany has experienced an increase of over 30% in the time period between 2011 and 2016. Millennials prefer a fit-for-purpose mobility solutions over static car ownership, highlighting the need to provide cost-effective on-demand services.

Micro-mobility vehicles have the added benefit of being affordable, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, thus becoming more and more attractive for millions of consumers, both young and old. They hold the potential to shorten in-city travel distances and, coupled with car-sharing, to decrease single occupancy car usage (76.4% in the US).

Micro-mobility vehicles will not replace existing modes of transport, such as cars or public transport, but rather complement the changing landscape of the urban mobility market, becoming an integral aspect of smart city planning. Solutions that allow passengers to share large proportions of their journey require a method to cover the first/last miles, to truly become door-to-door travel options. Micro vehicles also bear potential in supporting groundbreaking technologies, such as autonomous driving, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and smart routing to truly integrate with the smart cities of the future. Nonetheless, the Micro-Mobility market remains an interesting space to keep an eye on!

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