The Future of Mobility … a new age of planes, trains and automobiles is rapidly emerging

February 24, 2019

BMW and Daimler this week launched a sustainable mobility joint venture including ride-hailing, parking and electric car charging services.

The two companies, previously fierce rivals, will invest more than €1bn to develop their urban mobility businesses and the merger brings together car-sharing services Reach Now and Share Now, charging service Charge Now, ride-hailing service Free Now and parking app Park Now.

Each company will hold a 50 per cent stake in the new joint venture and will remain competitors in their core businesses. “We are shaping future mobility – and striking out in new directions to do so. Our Strategy provides us with a roadmap to a digital and emission-free future,” said Harald Krüger, BMW chairman. “Combining our mobility services as planned will create a unique digital ecosystem. This alliance will make it easier for our customers to discover the emission-free mobility of the future.”

More generally, the rapidly changing world of mobility – cars and planes, buses and trains, trucks and trailers, scooters and bikes; electric and shared, charging and maintaining, subscriptions and cross-payments, hubs and brands, networked and connected – will shape our lives and cities.

New, fast emerging “mobility ecosystems” won’t just set to change how we travel, it’s set to change the world.

As world populations and cities grow, people are looking for transportation solutions that make life easier. Solutions which reduce traffic congestion in our cities and respect the air we breathe. Connected vehicles that integrate seamlessly with our devices while improving safety on our roads. Economical choices that give us pleasure and freedom in driving.

What is the future of mobility?

In Bratislava, Slovakia, I recently met up with Stefan Klein, the former auto designer who is the entrepreneur behind the Aeromobil flying car, a hybrid car and light aircraft that has a top speed of 200km/h and range of 400km. It is a vision driven more by passion than profit, but changing the perception of possibilities.

In Munich, Germany, I got inspired by the team behind Lilium, the world’s first electric vertical take-⁠off and landing jet. They want to change the way we travel by developing a new type of hybrid aircraft, one that has vertical take-off and landing capability. It reminded me of the flying taxi visions of both Google and Uber.

In Karlsruhe, I worked with Bosch, the automotive parts company, that was initially unsure of what role it could take in the future of mobility, and what posture to take – an innovator or follower, shaping and waiting. Now they have a connected services vision, and a clear roadmap to shape the future of mobility.

In Shenzhen, China, I observed the huge scale production of BYD’s electric cars, typically retailing at $8000, a fraction of the price of a Tesla. Now the largest producer in the world it has a very different strategy from Tesla’s premium-driven portfolio and much slower paced growth. Slightly perversely the largest markets for electric cars are Norway and Iceland.

In Los Angeles, USA, Toby Sun talks about the wild growth rate of his Lime electric scooters, which adopted a much more fashion and social media driven approach to market adoption, now plaguing the pavements of many cities around the world. But interesting too how the smallest devices have grown fastest, maybe a springboard to build more integrated offers.

We can be inspired by the entrepreneurs, and enabled by the technology, but perhaps more importantly we should be guided by the market trends that will drive consumer demand, and shape policy and strategies. Greener, safer, cheaper transportation, accessible to everyone, reduced the congestion of our choked cities, improving social connectedness and transport efficiency, and enriching the joy of travel.

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