The Sharing Mindset
Shared mobility is that one asset is shared by multiple users, as opposed to dedicated mobility, such as the company car, which links user and asset. The mobility market has formalised something that goes against consumerist behaviour: prioritise asset utilisation to asset ownership. It generates a few philosophical questions.
For people who have only used bicycles for their mobility needs, a motorcycle is an upgrade. For motorcycle drivers, a car is an upgrade. This is one of the reasons why shared mobility solutions are extremely popular in Asia. Car ownership is low in countries such as China, India and Indonesia – the 3 combined represent almost 3 billion people. When providers, such as Didi, Ola, Grab and Go-Jek launched their services in these countries, it essentially allowed people to “upgrade” without having to spend money. These people occupy the bottom layers of the ownership pyramid.
For Europeans however, at the top of the ownership pyramid, any solution, except for a bigger and better car, is perceived as a downgrade. Car ownership in the EU is embedded in our DNA as we’ve been car owners since mid 20th century. It’s even more pronounced in the USA, where car ownership has been common for a century already. So the question is: how to move people away from their cars without this being perceived as a downgrade?
The answer to this question is referred to in the business as “White Space”, or the layer between the bottom and the top of the pyramid. Most of the arguments in favour of mobility today bring to surface reasons why cars are no longer adequate: congestion, taxation, cost. There are however no arguments that truly defend the benefits of mobility or, in other words, that represent mobility as an upgrade in comparison with a car; this is the definition of the White Space.
Trends and mindset
Truth is, that this argument is not available. Nothing suits us better than the confinement and the flexibility of owning a car – and we’re willing to go to great lengths to keep it that way. What does this mean for mobility?
Firstly, it means that transition from ownership to usership will need support from a more universal movement or trend. Secondly, it means that the mobility industry needs to start promoting the inherent benefits of mobility. Thirdly, it means that the mobility industry needs to develop solutions that are capable of beating the social status of a car. Finally, and at least we’re sure of this, it’ll need another set of taxes and regulations that stretch our elasticity even further and push us away from car ownership.