Today’s cities experience alarming air pollution. At the heart of the transformation required is shared mobility. Cities have the highest concentration of people on the move, and most city trips are short and involve one person. That is why in cities micro mobility is now outpacing electric car adoption, and shared mobility schemes giving access to these smaller, cleaner vehicles increasingly offer a viable alternative for citizens’ transport needs.
While there are encouraging signs, a real modal shift has not yet taken place. There is greater acceptance of shared mobility and overall European ridership increased in Q3 2021, but the sale of new and used cars has also increased at the same time.
New revenue models are helping to drive the growth of shared mobility and will be key to a modal shift. With the pandemic behind us, there is a wide range of opportunities for both new and established operators. Working with vehicle sharing providers in over 900 cities in six continents, here are four major trends that we at Wunder Mobility are witnessing first-hand.
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- The integration of business models
While some companies started their shared mobility service on a pay-per-minute basis, they are now starting to grow into the longer-term rental space and sometimes also into a subscription model. It’s about providing consumers with a choice that suits how often and for how long they need a vehicle (from minutes to days to a month), where they need to go, and sometimes the variability of weather.
The converse is also true. Companies like SIXT, which emerged from the traditional airport car rental business, are increasingly integrating minute-based sharing and other services they provide through third-party integration. The ultimate goal here is to offer a wide range of mobility services, so as always to provide a suitable transport alternative to the consumer.
- Incentivising new consumer behaviour and partner relationships
Innovative business models are springing up across Europe. In London, for example, e-bike sharing operator HumanForest has started a ‘TreeCoins’ loyalty programme. While HumanForest always offers the first 10 minutes free, based on serving partner advertisements, riders can also now earn ‘TreeCoins’ based on the number of miles they ride. TreeCoins can then be exchanged for extra free minutes riding on HumanForet’s e-bikes. In Germany, emmy provides 15 minutes of free riding each month to passengers who’ve ridden eight times in the previous month.
It’s exciting to see some mobility operators looking beyond rental models to diversify their revenue streams. A great example is Avocargo, a shared electric cargo bikes operator based in Berlin, which is collaborating with local partners to offer free driving minutes.
This type of commercial partnership not only gives consumers a cheaper deal and therefore a bigger incentive to ride, but also helps mobility operators to acquire new users through their partner’s customer base.
- The emergence of aggregators and ‘mobility super apps’
This type of app is about offering convenience and a great digital experience to the customer, aggregating all the available transport solutions for them to see, at the tap of an app. Such apps are also proving to be a valuable channel for operators to attract users.
Different players are emerging. The private company FREE NOW, for example, has already integrated various European mobility operators as partners into its app. A similar case in the public sector is Jelbi in Berlin.
With simple in-app booking – directly or via an aggregator – sharing scheme operators can offer the certainty of an individual and direct trip from A to B. This has proved attractive in the pandemic, especially with the increased convenience of more vehicles and competitive pricing.
- Expanding fleets and the rise of multimodality
More and more shared mobility operators are expanding their fleet to offer a mixture of scooters, mopeds, bikes and cars.
In the past 1-2 years we’ve seen operators bet on smaller vehicles, such as scooters, bikes and mopeds. On the one hand this is driven by the lower upfront investment required in smaller vehicles, but also by the trend in cities to restrict areas and make them car-free. The commercial barriers to entry are lower with micro mobility.
Current shared mobility providers such as Lime, Spin and Jump put a lot of effort into bringing bicycles into cities before 2018, but these were often replaced by scooters. In 2021, more and more mobility operators brought bicycles back into focus and added them to their city fleets, alongside thousands of scooters in use.
We expect to see the rise of microcars soon. These retain the conveniences of a car but are much more compact, are 100% electric, and offer greater flexibility with two seats. Such cars from the likes of Birò or Microlino also offer protection from the weather, unlike standing on a scooter or riding a bike. Expect to see these space-saving fleets hit the road in your city soon.