The mobility industry is changing. As autonomous and electric cars become the norm, what will the infrastructure look like? How many charge points are needed to sustain demand? How long will it take to charge each vehicle? What will the queues be like? Will the plug be manual or robotic? And curiously, what shape will the new cars be when they no longer have a gas-fueled engine?
Change is inevitable, but it is important to examine these key challenges, so that we can create a successful, sustainable mobility industry.
The Six Key Challenges
We believe there to be six key challenges to address within the mobility industry. These challenges require critical thinking to overcome roadblocks, pun intended.
Challenge 1: Electrification
Forbes predicts that sales of electric vehicles (EVs) will reach 11 million by 2025 before racing to 30 million by 2030, as they become cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles. This is titanic in comparison to the 1.1 million sold last year in 2017. However, it is not just about Original Equipment Manufacturers needing to meet this huge demand by making more vehicles. The charging network infrastructure will need to keep up with it as well. BP has recently made a strong move towards this in the acquisition of Chargemaster, adding 6,500 charging points to the existing network, but there are many other things to consider. It is critical to also consider battery chemistry and management as well as the actual act of charging itself… Will it be wireless, robotic, or automatic? And just how quickly will Ultra-Fast Charging (UFC) need to be?
Challenge 2: Connected Vehicles
Vehicle Ad-hoc networks (VANET) that turn every vehicle into a wireless router and connect one another are now rapidly evolving into Internet of Vehicles (IoV). IoV encapsulates more: people using the vehicles, devices inside vehicles, and the environment the vehicle is in. Why do we need it? We need to know how quickly having the AC on will drain the battery and exactly how long we can sit stagnant in a traffic jam before we lose charge completely. Range anxiety is a legitimate concern. With the progression of the technology as well as the anticipated shift from ownership of vehicles to shared models (accounting for a whopping 80% of the market by 2050) we are going to become completely reliant on IoV. For example, if there’s 2 fleet vehicles parked nearby, we are going to need to be told which one has enough charge to not only get us to the office but also to our stand up comedy night.
Challenge 3: Autonomous driving
Perhaps the most obvious challenge is that of autonomous driving. The implementation of self-driving cars provides solutions to roadside accidents, traffic jams, and beyond. Nearly 40,000 Americans died on the road last year with 90% of those deaths caused by human error. That said, in July this year, a self-driving test car struck and killed a woman. So, it seems, we have a ways to go to perfect autonomous vehicles. To further develop autonomous fleets, we need smart decision making, perception sensors, mapping, and, of course, guaranteed safety for the human riders.
Challenge 4: Shared mobility products & services
You don’t have to be an expert in mobility or business to know that Uber, a RocketSpace Alumni, completely disrupted the taxi industry. Now everyone is asking what the next big play is. Could it be a vehicle subscription service which will hand-hold us through adapting to ‘no vehicle ownership’ or could it be another form of fleet management? With these new services, it brings to light more opportunities than ever before such as in-car entertainment, advertisement opportunities, and parking subscriptions.
Challenge 5: Big data & analytics
By 2030 the number of mega-cities - over 10 million inhabitants - will rise to well above 40 and about two-thirds of the global population is expected to be residing among these and others by 2050. We must ensure that we can serve these epicenters. One company that is solving for this is Amazon Prime, which has over 100 million subscribers set to rise in accordance with our growing cities. First and last mile logistics are becoming more and more, crucial with many of us now looking to the sky and drones to ensure we’re going to get our deliveries on time. This means urban warehousing and new distribution modes will have to step up in order to keep these mega-cities sustainable. To solve for this, we must have asset tracking, which boils down to having big data and analytics.
Challenge 6: New enterprise models
With all of this change comes new opportunities. It won’t just be the vehicles themselves that will be automated, but likely everything that goes alongside vehicles. If we aren’t dropping our car back at the rental base, how will anyone know it needs new tires or a clean? If a car has been stagnant on a road for three weeks, would it be beneficial to rev the engine remotely to ensure the battery doesn’t drain? This final challenge can be seen as the glue the binds the other challenges together as it welcomes the opportunity for the best long-term outcomes for all stakeholders. The key takeaway is that businesses could well get left behind if they don’t adapt fast enough, which means collaboration is key. More and more we are seeing partnerships between corporates and startups: the perfect blend of resources and innovation.
There’s a lot to consider within the rapidly changing mobility industry. Each challenge and potential solution feeds into another. It is important to acknowledge the entire ecosystem, not only the new technology.
The key to conquering these challenges is collaboration. In the same way internal corporate departments are now (or should be) all about the mixed teams, rising to these mobility challenges is about collaboration. The solution must be the meeting of corporates and startups to provide innovative thinking that disrupts, and leads, this industry going forward.
RocketSpace is leading in this way of thinking with our Mobility Innovation Tech Collaborative. We have a consortium of four mobility industry leaders (BP, IBM, Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance and Avis Budget Group) who continuously work together alongside us as we source the most promising global startups in this industry to collaborate. The program has proven such a success that just a year after initiation, we are recruiting startups for our cohort 4 (if you’re such startup, apply here!) – the largest success to date being BP’s $5 million investment in FreeWire following a triumphant POC through the RocketSpace program at the end of 2017.
If you think your corporate could benefit from being a part of such a program, or a startup who wants to hear more, please reach out to the Program Manager, Olivia Potts at email@example.com.