The Future of Mobility, Today and Tomorrow

Posted by Scott Corwin, Philipp Willigmann, and Elizabeth Berkey Cathles
Future of mobility, today and tommorow

The global automotive industry may be on the verge of a fundamental transformation giving rise to a new mobility ecosystem. These changes could have far reaching implications for how we move from point A to point B, and for stakeholders far beyond the auto industry, including gas companies, retailers, insurers, emergency rooms, advertisers, and government regulators.

We might be forgiven for thinking these shifts will materialize only in the distant future, making strategic changes today premature. But the future of mobility is already impacting how businesses operate in an array of industries. Consider just a few recent examples. The US Department of Transportation announced in December that its safety ratings would begin considering the presence of crash-avoidance and other advanced technologies, which are important enabling technologies for autonomous drive that could spur adoption by automakers.1 As of November 2015, Google self-driving cars have completed more than 1.3 million miles of autonomous driving on public streets.2 Several companies developing autonomous cars have indicated they would accept liability should their vehicles crash, a sign of their confidence in the technology and an important development for insurers and the general public.3 AT&T added over a million new connected cars in its third quarter, more than any other wireless category, including smartphones.4 The list goes on, and these developments are just the first tentative steps toward a new mobility ecosystem.

The changes are being driven by a series of trends—some technological, some social—that collectively may be poised to fundamentally transform how people and goods move about. New powertrain technologies, including electric vehicles, offer lower emissions with increased range. Advanced materials can reduce weight without sacrificing performance. Vehicles are increasingly connected to other vehicles and infrastructure, with autonomous cars already on the roads. And long-held attitudes about vehicle ownership may be beginning to shift as the notion of shared access becomes more accepted.

These trends converge around four distinct but coexisting futures. For those who continue to drive their own vehicles, the future may look much like today, even if these vehicles will be smarter and reduce the number of human-induced accidents. At the other extreme is the most transformative future state, which could be radically different from today: A world of shared, autonomous cars where crashes are exceedingly rare, traffic abates as throughput increases, and commutes are used by occupants more productively for work or leisure. Importantly, we think these different future states will likely coexist, compelling companies to consider how to transform themselves in response to each. And there will likely be massive downstream shifts on the extended industry; insurance, finance, energy and fuel, taxes, roads, parking, traffic enforcement, public transportation, and even health care will all be affected.

Deloitte’s new podcast and video explore these alternative visions and offers some steps companies can take today to equip themselves for the future. You can find a more in-depth analysis in our recent research paper, The future of mobility. The sooner executives accept that change is not only coming, but that it is already here, the better prepared they can be to meet the challenges and opportunities it presents.


1 “US DOT brings 5-Star Safety Ratings into a new safety era,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, December 8, 2015. Available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-proposes-new-5-star-safety-ratings-12082015.
2 Google Self-driving Car Project Monthly Report, November 2015.
3 Richard Read, “Who’s at fault when a self-driving car crashes? ‘Us,’ say Mercedes and Volvo,” Christian Science Monitor, October 13, 2015. Available at http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/In-Gear/2015/1013/Who-s-at-fault-when-a-self-driving-car-crashes-Us-say-Mercedes-and-Volvo.
4 Mitchell Schnurman, “AT&T connects a million cars, topping sign-ups for phones,” Dallas Morning News, November 2, 2015. http://www.dallasnews.com/business/columnists/mitchell-schnurman/20151102-att-adds-a-million-cars-topping-sign-ups-for-phones.ece.

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