Breakfast Club: We’re the future of mobility
Read more by Syra Vlaanderen
That’s why, on Wednesday, September 4th, we came together with NS, Flitsmeister, BMW Group, Felyx, Unu, Birò, Locatienet, Vervoerregio Amsterdam, Gemeente Haarlemmermeer, 2getthere, Advier, Springtime, Thunderminds, Arval, Innovactory, and ParkBee to share insights and make connections surrounding our central question: What does the mobility of the future look like?
The Netherlands: ahead of the mobility curve?
The Netherlands is a “designed” country. We have been working on our country’s accessibility for over 100 years. No wonder Dutch infrastructure was declared the best in Europe during the 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF). But in order to keep our country accessible in the future, the infrastructure should be further developed. “We need each other in order to achieve real improvement,” according to Daan Wijnants, Manager of Government Relations and Public Affairs with Felyx. In his opinion, the cooperation between mobility providers and the government is one of the main prerequisites for good accessibility in the future.
The ultimate future scenario
The fact that mobility is strongly influenced by technology is not a new concept. Technically, there are a lot of possibilities, but legislation lags behind in certain areas. Still, there are a lot of pilots in the works. The speed with which the developments are following each other is stabilizing a little, but if a few things come together in terms of technology and regulations, it will go fast.
In order to provide the attendees with inspiration for the planned discussion, Iskander Smit, Innovation Director at INFO and a visiting professor with the Technical University (TU) of Delft, feeds them several possible future scenarios. A good example is IKEA’s ‘Spaces on Wheels’ concept which shows how self-driving technologies can contribute to urban mobility. SPACE10 (IKEA’s R&D lab) came up with seven different concepts for self-driving spaces, allowing people to go about their business while traveling from A to B. ‘Office on Wheels’ helps commuters to spend their commute usefully, and ‘Healthcare on Wheels’ delivers medical professionals to patients instead of the other way around.
Curious about all the trends driving mobility? Read here the article, “8 Trends that are impacting the future of mobility“.
Seamful instead of seamless mobility
When we discuss the mobility of the future, we often speak of an efficient, completely frictionless journey from A to B. But do we really need such a seamless experience?
Mobility is more than just traveling from A to B. Maybe we don’t want to arrive at our destination as fast as possible, but crave a different type of experience in which the journey itself is the goal. Maybe you want to be inspired by your new surroundings, a random meeting, or maybe you want to be able to meditate during your daily commute. Maybe you’re planning the number of calories you would like to burn and want to plan your transportation accordingly. In Japan, for example, shared cars aren’t just used for transportation, but also as a working or meeting space.
If it’s up to Iskander Smit, travel doesn’t have to be completely frictionless. He, therefore, argues for seamful travel instead of the seamless variety: be open to other forms of user-driven mobility.
A healthy business model for shared mobility
It doesn’t matter if you prefer a seamless or seamful experience, the shift from ownership to use is an important fact of all forms of mobility. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Greenwheels have been showing us for a while now that the emphasis is on (shared) use.
Our breakfast group agrees that shared mobility is an important part of mobility’s future. Profitability, however, is still an issue. A lot of shared-mobility providers are growing, but aren’t making any profits. For example, in the second quarter of 2019, Uber recorded its largest loss to date: more than 5 billion dollars. Experts expect the company to not reach profitability until 2024. During the breakfast session, Henk van den Helder, Managing Director with Hertz, states that this is the reason that companies that have the technology for shared mobility in place, are reluctant to enter the market with it.
Greenwheels knows all about this since they only started to become profitable over the past two years, after finally being able to offer national coverage. The shared-car provider came a long way since entering the Dutch market back in 1995. Back then, the “fleet” consisted of three second-hand cars and it was run by two students from Rotterdam.
Better mobility starts with yourself
Technology offers countless possibilities for new mobility services and concepts. But is that the best way to further develop our infrastructure? Our assembled experts conclude that the most important solution is a lot closer than we think: it’s us!
By reducing our mobility demand, we can make a huge difference. Dennis Mica from 2getthere agrees with this point of view. He thinks that the discussion focuses too much on offer as many different options for mobility as possible. But is that what we really need? According to him, we should focus on reducing mobility; sometimes, traveling smart is not traveling at all.
We can easily work from “everywhere”, our laptop is our office and Skype is our meeting room. Jasper Steffens from Thunderminds also sees the value of smart(er) workplaces. He advocates the appointment of a Smart Workplace Manager but recognizes that this requires a shift in mentality from management. He thinks that they have a leading role in this.
The MaaS pilots: a step in the right direction?
In addition to a behavioral change, our breakfast club also sees a pivotal role for the government in further developing mobility. A lot of our commercial guests, however, doubt if the seven Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) pilots that were recently introduced by the Dutch government are useful. It’s apparent that there’s some friction between the business community and the government on this issue. Dennis Mica from 2getthere: “With these MaaS pilots the seven regions are trying to do something that Google has been able to do for a long time.”
Lucien Groenhuijzen, Innovactory’s CEO, is involved with the first MaaS pilot in Utrecht and explains that the pilots were set up to gain experience on MaaS together so that this concept can be successfully rolled out nationally in the near future.
Our assembled experts see a facilitating rather than guiding role for the government. The government should present the market with a clearly defined problem, so that they may solve it performance-based. This way, the government has its certainty, but all parties involved work towards a national solution together. The group concludes that government, science, and commerce should work together to shape Holland’s future mobility.
Not done yet
When INFO’s CEO Remmert Stipdonk ended the very first mobility breakfast club, we weren’t nearly finished discussing this fascinating subject. That’s why we’re planning another mobility breakfast club that will elaborate a little bit more on one of the subjects that came up during this session.
Would you like to be a part of the next Breakfast Club? Send an email to our Marketing Manager Syra Vlaanderen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let her know what you would bring to the breakfast table. Please note the event is in Dutch.
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