Rapid urbanisation and increased levels of motorisation are clogging roads across Indian cities, leading to deteriorating air quality. While road building has gathered pace, increased speeds and the lack of proper mobility monitoring have failed to arrest the number of road-related deaths in the country. Consider the rising problems associated with finding parking spaces in our cities.
Let’s consider another paradigm. The number of smartphone users in the country is estimated to grow over 60 % between 2017 and 2022, from 291.6 mn to almost half a billion users. Add to that the growing adoption of digital payments – promoted well by the Central Government’s Digital India campaign. And you have good reasons to believe that Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) would be a winner in the Indian context; because the objective is to move people, not vehicles.
MaaS offers commuters a lot of flexibility and choice. That, in fact, was the goal of the Helsinki MaaS pilot project in Finland as well – to make transportation an appealing alternative to personalised vehicles – through a digital platform that integrates end-to-end trip planning, including booking tickets, paying digitally and availing services across all modes of transportation, public or private. A single app is all it takes to make MaaS work.
As a business vertical, MaaS offers immense potential. A research by Accenture projects that by 2030, revenues from mobility services globally will soar to almost € 1.2 tn, with profits of almost € 220 bn. In contrast, revenues from manufacturing and selling vehicles (~€ 2 tn) will be only marginally higher than they are today. Profits from car sales will in fact shrink from ~€ 126 bn to ~€ 122 bn.
In India, NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), in its report titled “Transformative Mobility Solutions for India” released in 2017 had suggested that India could implement solutions such as MaaS, MOD (mobility oriented development), electric vehicles, intelligent vehicles and autonomous vehicles to leapfrog to the leading edge of global mobility transformation. Many in the industry believe MaaS indeed has tremendous potential in the country.
It is around 2030 that the industry is likely to achieve Level 5 automation; have more vehicles built for specific purposes than conventional vehicles like the ones we have today. The world is likely to see many new innovations and newer modes of transportation by then. The role that India would play in this new mobility world will depend on the steps the Indian automotive industry takes now.
DEEPANGSHU DEV SARMAH
New Delhi, August 2018