I asked the young intern in our New Delhi office what car he would like to own growing up. And as expected, he said he wasn’t interested in investing in a car. Similarly, over lunch a few days back, a senior professional said he hasn’t driven his car in over two months. With cities getting increasingly congested and stress level rising among urban Indians, on-demand radio cab services have clearly offered a meaningful alternative. Although not a trend yet, car-pooling too is becoming acceptable to many.
Shared mobility, in fact, is a global buzz word. In its report last year, Deloitte claimed that shared mobility will account for 80 % of the market by 2050. Shared mobility is among the fastest growing segments of the shared economy, with usage replacing ownership, said Roland Berger in one of its publications on shared mobility.
In fact, shared mobility as a concept is making deep inroads into conventional automotive players’ future growth plans. Last year, General Motors invested an undisclosed amount in Yi Wei Xing Technology, a Chinese start-up focussed on car rental technology. GM also has investments in Lyft and Maven, while Daimler has invested in Moovel and Car2Go. Ford too has bought a ride-sharing start-up based in San Francisco called Chariot.
In our recent trip to Continental in Hanover, Dr Elmar Degenhart, CEO of the company echoed similar views about shared mobility. The company has already made investments in developing a seamless app-based rental car experience with its innovative Remote Cloud Key solution. He believes shared mobility concepts could be the only saviour for the burgeoning cities globally.
Some argue that shared mobility will lead to drastic fall in vehicle sales, and many others believe yardsticks to measure success in the industry would change. The total number of vehicles will probably go down in cities, but the total mileage driven will go up.
Personal car ownership might still be the norm for the next decade or so. As driverless vehicles gain ground, a robust legal framework and supporting infrastructure would also need to be developed simultaneously. But these are lesser hassles, as many say. What one can’t deny is the fact that the future of mobility will be electrified, shared and driverless.
Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
New Delhi, July 2017