Electric vehicles weren’t the only big transportation winners in 2021. E-bikes saw a massive 240% growth in 2021, and e-scooters/mopeds showed 132%.
With over 60% of European city dwellers saying they support the use of emission-free cars exclusively after 2030, there’s a real focus on reduced-emission, sustainable commuting. Cities as different as Paris, Berlin and Pittsburgh are adopting infrastructure plans that will drive the use of smarter, all-electric vehicles and modes of transport. Increasingly, micromobility is seen as playing an important role, both as a standalone mode of transport and as bridging the gap between private EV use and public transport needs. 70% of consumers are willing to use micromobility vehicles for their daily commute; in this context, it’s hardly surprising that European micromobility startups raised $778m in VC funding in 2021 – a 45% increase on the previous year.
The vision for many is the “15-minute city” where, one day, a user could park their EV at a charging point, take a robo-bus to the centre of town and hop on an e-scooter to finish their journey – all using the same public transport credit system. New to town? No problem – integration with maps will help you figure the best, most effective transport mix to get you from A to B.
Stepping up to the marque
While the economics of how micromobility initiatives should operate can be contentious – caps on fleet sizes, permits, insurance, preventing ‘race to the bottom’ pricing – many of the world’s leading automotive brands have already dipped a toe in the market, including:
In 2021, Ford’s Spin micro-mobility solution was the first to offer sidewalk detection technology to protect pedestrians; its’ mobility as a service (MaaS) programme in Pittsburgh was the first of its kind in the U.S. In Europe, Seat’s new e-mobility division is already selling its Seat Mó brand of scooters in the UK. BMW’s concept designs for “Clever Commute” and “Dynamic Cargo” e-scooters capable of moving people or goods give insight into how micro-mobility vehicles could complement existing modes of transport for both commuters and businesses alike.
The capacity for micromobility to augment the potential of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) has huge appeal for OEMs, sustainability advocates and city managers alike. Nonetheless, issues around regulations and infrastructure continue to challenge how – and where – micromobility services can safely co-exist with other vehicles. To address this, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) for micromobility are already in development, including:
Spin and Helbiz are testing camera-based solutions that could detect when a rider uses a pavement, is about to hit a pedestrian or even stop a ride in real time. Streetlogic is developing a safety-focused ADAS system specifically for e-bikes.
Connecting the dots
As with other connected vehicles, additional sensors and AI capabilities will open up new opportunities in data monetization. Whatever happens in a connected car can, in theory at least, be implemented on a smaller vehicle – or even trialed there first, thanks to lower production overheads.
OEMs and other providers looking to operate in the global micromobility market will seek easy connectivity options that can overcome the need to negotiate country-by-country agreements with MNOs. Track and trace, fleet management and the introduction of telemetry solutions all have the capacity to transform this space for businesses that traditionally lack the skills or infrastructure to go live, quickly.