When people think about the future of mobility they mostly think of the driverless car. While there have been significant leaps forward in terms of automation in cars, technology today is transforming mobility far beyond the realm of autonomous vehicles. It is allowing us to base our transport choices on price, and environmental and convenience factors rather than the default option of choosing between a private vehicle or mass transport.
Traditionally, the private vehicle has ruled as our preferred choice of transport because the car brought with it massive individual freedoms. Not long ago getting your licence was seen as a rite of passage – to all these freedoms. But this mindset is changing as the detrimental effects of the private motor vehicle start to outweigh its benefits, and alternate models of transport make gains. The ‘freedom’ brought by the car is diminishing as traffic congestion on roads and the related environmental damage caused by the combustion engines and coal-fired electric power rises. A recent Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey revealed a 6.2 per cent drop in men aged 18 and 19 getting their driver’s licence, down from 71 per cent in 2012 to 64.8 per cent in 2016.
At the same time, consumers are discovering the actual cost of driving, as connected vehicle technology breaks down the real costs of each trip. Remember the old adage, “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”, – new technology coupled with a combination of factors like, increasing desire for more user-pay road charges while traditional fuel excise revenue dries up, is motivating greater transparency for each trip.
Car servicing costs, petrol, parking, bank loans and depreciation costs have often been referred to as ‘sunk’ costs. However, the availability of more alternatives in transport modes that promise to reduce these sunk costs while offering increased convenience, are making drivers rethink the traditional car model.
Uber is an excellent example of this shift in mindset. Uber’s growth rate in Australia has been phenomenal. According to Roy Morgan Research, 4.3 million Australians aged 14+ (over 20% of the population) now travel by Uber at least once in an average three months. Yet, the number of taxi trips have not declined at the same rate as Uber’s growth. Meaning, that Uber has not acted as a direct replacement of taxis, but instead has taken market share away from other transport modes in addition to adding more net trips that were otherwise never taken.
But it isn’t just Uber that has seen this growth. Again, as Roy Morgan research notes, “90,000 people across Australia already use a rideshare service other than Uber in an average three months without also using Uber in that same timeframe”.
It is therefore clear that the conversation around the future of mobility needs to focus more on the connected vehicle and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) rather than just autonomous vehicles. As research and advisory firm Gartner notes, autonomous vehicles were shown entering into the trough of disillusionment as they move through the “hype cycle”.
A more pressing conversation to be had is around connected vehicles, and what this will bring to road users in Australia. Intelematics’ interactions with Australian OEMs found that by 2021, around 70 per cent of vehicle manufacturers competing in Australia will be selling vehicles that are connected. This shift in increased investment in the connected vehicle space is an indicator that connected vehicles offer greater possibilities and that there is a growing demand amongst consumers for on-demand and subscription services. New mobility services and traditional mobility services (private car ownership, public transport providers, freight and taxis) compete in a complex and costly environment. The main drivers in this space are cost, safety, environmental and convenience/accessibility concerns, and how do we, as individuals, make informed decisions when it comes to our mobility service choices. This is where we can look at transport holistically, rather than through the prism of autonomous vehicles.
One OEM that is doing this is Toyota, through its Woven City Project. Acting as the world’s first urban incubator this live testbed ‘city’ looks at how people interact with “autonomy, robotics, personal mobility and smart homes, in a real-world environment”.
Intelematics is also doing its bit. With unparalleled data on how Australians move, collected through our thousands of sensors, we already have a head start on mobility trends. We use this data to help develop our mobility services, from fleet optimisation software through to roadside assist products and safety and security systems. Our mobility data is also used by transport service providers, government departments and policy analysts to better prepare Australia for the future of mobility.
The future of mobility is exciting. It offers more options; more convenience; an increase in safety; lower costs and better environmental outcomes. Let’s embrace this future.