Features
28 avr 20

5 Shared mobility options for today and tomorrow

Shared mobility encompases traditional means of transport like bikes and cars, but also more innovative ones like self-driving shuttles and passenger drones. Here’s an overview of some of the more interesting options on the market today and some that will become available soon.

Shared mobility is a diverse ecosystem with a wide range of providers that often focus on particular segments or regions. It covers car mobility but also bikes and scooters, often powered by electric drivetrains. In the next few years, this ecosystem will see the addition of new autonomous services that are not yet feasible but will be soon.

On this page, we list 3 shared mobility services that are already available today and 2 that will become a reality in the near future.

Today

Turo: Peer-to-peer carsharing

Peer-to-peer carsharing services do not need to operate and pay for their own fleets – an important advantage over companies that do put their own cars on the streets.

Turo is an interesting case in point. Originally founded in the Boston area, the service has since expanded to most big cities in the US and Canada and has recently expanded into the UK and Germany.

Basically, Turo allows anyone to add their vehicle onto the Turo platform, where other users can then rent it. Consequently, Turo does not own the fleet and neither does the company need to pay for it.

The choice of cars that is available on the Turo platform depends on what users offer. At the time of writing, users in Berlin could pick vehicles like a Volkswagen Polo, a Tesla Model 3, a Volvo XC90 and much more.

Share Now: free-floating carsharing in 16 cities

Share Now is the carsharing division of Your Now, a joint venture set up by Daimler and BMW when they merged their mobility services. Today, Share Now has completed the merging process of the former DriveNow (BMW) and car2go (Daimler).

At the end of last year, the company withdrew from North America and a number of cities in Europe but it still offers its services in 16 cities in eight countries across Europe where users have access to a free-floating fleet of 14,000 vehicles.

Share Now has started offering long-term rentals of up to 14 days in most markets and plans to roll this out further in the future.

Businesses users can choose to have their trips invoiced as classic travel expenses or they can opt for monthly collective invoices to the company.

In several cities, Share Now set up a collaboration with public transport providers.

London: where Boris Bikes and private bikes coexist

Back when Boris Johnson was mayor of London and the UK was still happily married to the European Union, notwithstanding the occasional bickering, the first bikesharing scheme was introduced in London. Officially called Santander Cycles but colloquially known as Boris Bikes, they were a big hit from the start. They are not uncontroversial, though, as figures released to Verdict under the Freedom of Information Act reveal £17,000 in subsidies have been spent since 2010. In large part, this has been spent on infrastructure and docking stations.

Since the publicly-funded Boris Bikes were launched, two competitors from the private sector have emerged that do not rely on subsidies. Mobike and Ofo make use of technology that wasn’t available in 2010, meaning they do not require docking stations.

However, a spokesperson for Mobike told Verdict that government funding has enabled London to embrace bike share, showing that there is a great demand for cycling. Moreover, projected population growth indicates there should be room for at least three players on the London bikeshare market.

Tomorrow

Cruise Origin: Self-driving shuttles

“Any moment now!” We’ve been announcing self-driving cars and shuttles for some time, but GM seems to be getting close with the Cruise Origin.

Cruise, the self-driving car subsidiary of General Motors, unveiled the Origin at the start of 2020. The Origin is a self-driving shuttle developed in cooperation with Honda. Importantly, CEO Dan Ammann emphasised it is not a prototype – no, it’s a fully-fledged production model.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s ready to hit the roads. Cruise is still working to get their Origin approved for use on public roads, which is challenging as it does not comply with all construction, performance and durability requirements for motor vehicles.

For the time being, this limits the Cruise Origin to use on private campuses. Cruise is confident regulations will be amended in the near future, which could set off a mobility revolution. An affordable one at that.

Mr Amman told Tech Crunch making the Origin inexpensive was a prime concern. “Because if we’rereally serious about improving life, and our cities, we need huge numbers of people to use the Cruise Origin. And that won’t happen unless we deliver on a very simple proposition, a better experience at a lower price than what you pay to get around today.”

Uber Air: Air taxi

Uber already operates an air taxi that can take you from Manhatten to JFP airport, but that’s hardly an innovative means of transport. But eVTOL is – short for electric vertical take-off and landing or what thelayman would call drones.

Uber is only one of many companies that hope to launch a passenger drone service in the near future, but their target is ambitious. The ridehailing giant hopes to start demonstrator flights for Uber Air already this year and commercial operations should follow in 2023.

Uber Air has partnered with companies like Joby Aviation, Boeing, Embraer and Hyundai to produce electric aircraft. The craft should have room for four passengers with an additional pilot seat – indeed, at least the first generation will not be autonomous yet.

The first cities where Uber Air hopes to take passengers to the skies are Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne. Nevertheless, technical and legal hurdles to get an eVTOL up in the air are quite daunting, so delays aren’t unlikely.

Leading image: one of the flying shuttle concepts of Uber.

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck