4 Nov 19

How MaaS can save the world (except Abu Dhabi)

Saving the world is going to be hard. But Mobility-as-a-Service can make those hard choices easy, says Sampo Hietanen, CEO of MaaS Global. So yes, MaaS can help save the world. With the possible exception of Abu Dhabi. 

Back when he was still a traffic engineer, Mr Hietanen had a revelation: the bigger the impact ‘green’ measures have, the tougher they are to sell politically: “That’s why democratic societies seem incapable of preventing climate catastrophe.” 

Drastic measures

Yet drastic measures are needed if we’re to cut CO2 emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. Fortunately, “MaaS can bridge today’s freedom of mobility and the inevitable need to cut CO2 and small-particle emissions.”

MaaS Global’s ambition: MaaS as seamless tomorrow as phone roaming is today. Hopping from car to train to bicycle (and more) should be super easy and affordable, irrespective of where you are. But “MaaS has to compete with car ownership. We’re not quite there yet,” says Mr Hietanen. 

Whim – MaaS Global’s app for mobility-as-a-service – is pretty darn close. It aims to offer customers access to all mobility modes available in a certain location, all on one app: “Our ambition is to take care of all your trips.”

Five-star review

Young people are usually credited as the ones ushering in the required attitude change – preferring ‘usership’ of various mobility modes over ownership of a car. 

But even middle-aged men – Mr Hietanen’s own demographic, he wryly notes – are seeing the light: “I recently spotted a five-star review from a gentleman in his 50s, previously dedicated to Bavarian driving machines, who had recently discovered Whim Unlimited, and was wondering why on earth he had not switched to it before.”

Some of the resistance to MaaS comes from the glamour associated with driving your dream car. But research shows that for most of us, the allure of a new car fades in about a month – as fast as the new car smell. 

Dream car

“I often ask audiences if the car they own is their dream car. For most, that’s not the case. So why not geta MaaS subscription with rental option instead? Then you get to drive different makes and models.”

Whim is available in Helsinki, Antwerp, Birmingham and Vienna. More locations will follow soon: Singapore and Japan. Ten to 20 further location candidates will be integrated down the line. 

But perhaps not Abu Dhabi, where Mr Hietanen’s question backfired: “Most of the audience raised their hands, smiling widely. Quite a few had not just one, but five dream cars…”

More info on https://whimapp.com/