Congested and polluted cities worldwide have driven much of the new technology developments in the mobility world in recent times. The world is already witnessing what is likely to become a norm in about a decade or so, and I’m not just talking about autonomous vehicles or shared drives. A lot of new concepts aimed at addressing the urban mobility conundrum – both in the personal space as well as public transportation – are making their way into motor and technical shows.
In its report a couple of years back, McKinsey estimated 60 % of the world’s population to live in cities by 2030, up from about 50 % today. Over the same period, more than 2 bn people are likely to enter the middle class, with the majority of them living in cities in emerging markets, said the report. The United Nations, in a 2014 study, had claimed that two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, and by that time, individual mobility in cities will be severely restricted.
Driverless taxis that provide a solution for congestion, accidents, contaminated air and parking problems in cities, could become a norm. Either you look at Continental’s Urban mobility Experience (CUbE) or the Rinspeed Snap – a modular entity, in which the car’s cabin can detach itself from its chassis to switch between being a caravan and a mobile showroom – there are various new possibilities automakers are experimenting with.
In this edition, look for an exciting feature on an urban vehicle concept for shared mobility. The article notes that the market development regarding new mobility solutions offers an interesting potential for concepts where mobility needs, new business models and vehicle construction are able to merge.
Although there’s nothing much to talk about in the Indian context currently, there is little doubt that similar or other unique forms of urban mobility solutions will make their way into the country in due course.
Meanwhile, in this special Auto Expo edition, we’ve focussed on the broader themes of technology and innovation – the subjects in focus at the 2018 show. Read about the likelihood of engineered fuels becoming a disruptor for the transportation sector, and an interesting perspective on converting connected car data into dollars. There’s a lot of food for thought inside.
Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
New Delhi, February 2018