The Future of Mobility

August 12, 2019



Financial institutions are beginning to take notice of the mobility revolution. Insurance companies are planning for decline in personal automobile insurance while some credit unions and banks brace for a decline in car loans.

The future of mobility is being described as autonomous, connected, electric and shared. The convergence of electric vehicles (EVs), artificial intelligence and the cloud are expected to rapidly drive a transition from car ownership to the purchase of mobility services.

Financial institutions are not the only business sectors preparing for significant change.

Oil and gas companies are rethinking their retail fuel business.  Chevron recently announced the installation of EV charging stations at some of its California gas stations. Car manufacturers are investing billions in the transition to both electric and autonomous vehicles. Utilities and energy providers are seeing a new revenue opportunity. Dozens of new entrants into the market offer autonomous solutions, processing, sensors, connectivity, mapping, algorithms, security and safety, and development tools, according to a Vision Systems Intelligence infographic

What does it all mean for communities?

The mobility revolution will likley outpace local transportation plans. In Ontario, most community energy plans underestimate the contribution of the transportation sector to a community’s energy and emissions profile.  A lack of access to good data is the reason and this makes it more challenging to understand opportunities and risks and to plan accordingly. Key strategies to reduce energy consumption and emissions in this sector include reducing average trip lengths, increasing trips by train, bus, bike and walking, increasing use of more electric vehicles and maximizing the efficiency of all vehicles. Municipal government have several policy levers to influence the first two of these strategies. The emergence of autonomous vehicles adds an entirely new dimension. 

The transition from car ownership to mobility services may mean less need for parking infrastructure but that doesn’t necessarily mean fewer vehicles on the road.  Research suggests transportation network companies are attracting riders away from transit which could have dire consequences for the long-term financial sustainability of already unfunded transit systems. Just as we need greater transit investments, the rules of the road are being re-written.

“For years, as the city grew, more and more people took the subway and bus. Now, as the city grows, more and more people are taking Uber, Lyft, and Via. This is not a sustainable way for the city to grow.” Bruce Schaller, formerly with the NYC Department of Transportation

Municipal governments and their communities will need to think through the local implications of the mobility revolution, as they continue to become more energy conscious.