Unlike our regular monthly editions, where cover themes are technology specific, the theme for this edition is rather broad – Smart Mobility. As a concept, smart mobility could be viewed as an approach that helps bring down congestion on our roads, improves environmental health, fosters faster and cheaper transportation in a reliable and efficient manner, and one that is connected. The past few years have seen new business models emerge, and disruptions in the industry have led many to re-strategise their business objectives and goals.
We’ve seen the emergence of industry megatrends. Call it CASE (connected, autonomous, shared & electrified) or MADE (mobility, autonomous, digitisation & electrification), it is fairly clear the path the mobility industry is taking. Electrification of the powertrain is now a given. Most companies are trying to understand ‘when’ the right time to jump on the bandwagon is, rather than wondering ‘if’ they should.
Young people (and old) are rethinking the need to own vehicles. A World Bank study reported how there has been a continuous decline in the motorised traffic volume in both the United States and Europe for the past several years, in terms of both the total vehicle miles travelled (VKT) and per capita VKT. Mobility as a service (MaaS) is gaining ground, thanks to proliferation of connectivity and internet. On-demand ride services (four-, three- or two-wheelers) are becoming commonplace. Urban services that can be accessed remotely using driverless vehicles are predicted to become a norm in some very mature countries over the next decade or so.
Big data and analytics are playing a major role in almost every area of the automotive value chain. From human beings analysing data to artificial intelligence and machine learning taking over that role; from vehicles being the way we know them to being built for specific purposes – the mobility industry is undergoing a phenomenal amount of change. And such changes are also opening up new vistas for players in the automotive sector.
Companies are starting to look at cities as their prospective customers, beyond their regular customers in the auto sector. As cities get smarter, the infrastructure will undergo change, requirements of commuters would evolve and types of mobility solutions would likely be very different from how we know them now. The Indian government’s vision of setting up 100 smart cities in the country will likely see some of these new-age mobility solutions at play.
DEEPANGSHU DEV SARMAH
New Delhi, September 2018