How will our children experience mobility? What will remain of today’s cars after the revolution of shared autonomous electric vehicles? As futurologists, we look for weak signals and cross-industry cases to find likely scenarios of the autonomous world.
THE SPLIT BETWEEN FREEDOM AND PROPERTY
Four wheels and a fully-charged battery – everything else depends on the ability of service providers to find appealing use cases. But how can they find these use cases? You cannot just ask customers what they want, can you? Well, whenever a disruptive technology like AD comes along, it seems that market research only provides a very limited insight into how customers will adapt. With regard to recent crashes, it seems like the customers have lost their appetite for AD anyway.
The people interviewed were mostly the generation of life-long-car owners who are not happy about machines taking over the steering wheel. But there is a totally different mobility generation ahead of us. This generation doesn’t care about horse power or tyre sizes, but is more interested in ease of use, purpose and experiences. There is no question that their mobility habits will be totally different, especially because they are already growing up in a world of seamless technology and abundance.
MOBILITY IS BECOMING A COMMODITY – EFFICIENT MAINTENANCE AND SERVICE A CRITICAL FACTOR FOR SUCCESS
Most people in Generation Alpha do not have a driver’s license. Owning a vehicle seems just as useful to them as a landline phone was when they were kids. Getting around got pretty cheap in the 2020s. It doesn’t matter how old or how mobile you are – all you need is a mobile wallet. In some cases when you go to the gym or the mall, for example, you don’t need to pay anything because transport is just another free service of their ecosystem. Autonomous shuttles packed with 5-8 people pass by every few seconds and take you anywhere in the city pretty fast and for very little money. After the taxi industry, car sharing came to an end. And when the shape and space requirements of robotaxis were optimized, public transport came to be regarded as comparatively expensive, inefficient and outdated. The shuttles transport many times more people than former private vehicles, but are lighter and, thanks to their electric drive train, require only a fraction of the energy of combustion engines from the previous decade. What’s more, they require less maintenance and are generally fully utilized from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Some shuttles even act as package suppliers during noon and at night. For a while, cleaning the interiors was a large cost factor for carriers, but with self-cleaning materials and ultraviolet disinfection, these things got automated pretty quickly too.
But there is still a market for the so-called premium mobility services in the 2030s: the only thing is, it is nothing like before. In urban areas, where most journeys take about 15 minutes, most people use cheap shuttles. Busy managers often use cafés, restaurants or offices on wheels for appointments and in between business meetings. There are also autonomous kiosks, retail stores and hairdressers and cosmetics salons that travel through the city and offer their services wherever demand is high. Autonomous driving gave a big boost to the retail and service sectors, as these things can be more easily integrated into everyday life or even done on the road.
THE END OF MULTIMODAL TRAFFIC AND THE REINVENTION OF PREMIUM
Real luxury is found on long-distance trips. Generation Alpha could never really make friends with the jet set lifestyle of previous generations anyway. Not only was the change between car, plane and hotel uncomfortable and exhausting, the ecological footprint was no longer acceptable. Gen Alpha uses compact offices and apartments to travel around the country. Some of these vehicles are still privately owned. Consultants, commuters and even some families use these vehicles as a kind of second living room and only share them with acquaintances and friends from their immediate surroundings. But most of the long-haul vehicles are owned by fleet operators, many of whom look like a mix of Flixbus and Motel one. This immense improvement in commute times also had a positive effect on real estate prices, which balanced out as a result of the mobility revolution. Looking back to the year 2019 and the beginning of the automotive revolution, it is hard for people to believe how inefficient and harmful the transport sector was for man and nature.
WEAK SIGNALS & CROSS-INDUSTRY CASES FOR A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE.
The described scenarios were created by extrapolating the so-called micro-trends. These weak signals are research papers, start-ups, or innovations that are systematically captured by the the innvotion analysts at TRENDONE. Over 40.000 of these micro-trends are availible in the trend and innovation database Trendexplorer.