The future of mobility: Where we’ve come from

By Scott Corwin

A year ago, we posited that the extended global automotive industry was undergoing an unprecedented transformation into a new mobility ecosystem.1 Since then, the pace of change has been, in our view, breathtaking. Through hundreds of conversations with corporate executives, government leaders, technologists, and academics around the globe, we have gained a front-row seat to how the future of mobility is evolving. In particular, we have witnessed:

Broad acceptance of the core tenets of how this evolution will unfold. Skepticism persists and uncertainty abounds, but we have seen surprising agreement that a fundamental shift is driving a move away from personally owned, driver-driven vehicles and toward a future mobility system centered around (but not exclusively composed of) driverless vehicles and shared mobility. Less agreed upon: the speed at which this transformation will take place, how the future ecosystem will be constructed and operate, and how corporate leaders believe their enterprises’ business models need to adapt.

Governments catalyzing the emergence of a new mobility ecosystem. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) launched the Smart Cities Challenge as a fillip for cities and states to experiment with cheaper, faster, safer, greener, more efficient, and more convenient transportation for citizens.2 The 78 submissions, including that of eventual winner Columbus, OH, spanned a wide range of intermodal innovations and provided an incubator for new forms of transportation and new ways to consume mobility, potentially making them available and commercially viable sooner than a market-only approach would create.3 The DOT continues to serve its primary mission of public safety while demonstrating that it can play a pivotal role in driving innovation through investments and regulation, as seen most recently in its unveiling of guidelines for autonomous vehicles regulations.4 States such as Nevada,5 Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida6 are developing pilot programs and implementing regulatory changes to accelerate adoption of the future mobility ecosystem, as they seek to provide more and better options for their citizens and to spur economic development.

Significant moves by industry incumbents and disruptors to enact the future. As we anticipated, both sets of players have come to the realization that collaboration is key to gaining a value-added role within the ecosystem. Many of these moves are speculative, exploratory, and of a nature to create option value.7 Noteworthy examples include GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft and acquisition of Maven, a carsharing platform,8 Ford’s launch of Ford Smart Mobility and investments in Velodyne, SAIPS, Nierenberg Neuroscience, and Civil Maps,9 Daimler’s investments in Moovel and Car2Go,10 and multiple efforts by both technology companies and automakers to develop autonomous vehicles. And while these are important developments, they likely represent just the early stages of the transition. We anticipate large scale, in-market pilots in the next 12 to 18 months; the introduction of commercially available fully autonomous electric vehicles (either as part of shared fleets or for private ownership); and tangible examples of what the cities of the future will look like, including the reduction of curbside parking, intelligent traffic signals, and the emergence of seamless intermodal transportation choices.

Still, many questions remain. What will the new ecosystem look like, and how will it operate? Where will value be created and captured? How should an organization transform its strategy, business model, product portfolio, and capabilities to succeed? Our next post will explore those questions, offering a glimpse at how tomorrow’s mobility ecosystem might operate.


1Scott Corwin, Joe Vitale, Eamonn Kelly, and Elizabeth Cathles, The future of mobility, Deloitte University Press, September 24, 2015, http://dupress.com/articles/future-of-mobility-transportation-technology//?coll=16426.
2US Department of Transportation, “Smart City Challenge,” www.transportation.gov/smartcity, accessed August 12, 2016.
3US Department of Transportation, “U.S. Department of Transportation announces Columbus as winner of unprecedented $40 million Smart City Challenge,” June 23, 2016, www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transportation-announces-columbus-winner-unprecedented-40-million-smart.
4US Department of Transportation, “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy,” September 20, 2016, http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/av/av-policy.html.
5Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, “Establishing Las Vegas as a demonstrator for advanced mobility,” March 16, 2016, http://diversifynevada.com/news/press-releases/nevada-working-to-establish-las-vegas-as-demonstrator-city-for-advanced-mob.
6Michael Wayland, “Snyder announces ‘Planet M’ mobility campaign,” Detroit News, June 1, 2016, www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2016/06/01/planet-mobility-campaign/85254058/; Ed Blazina, “Transportation planners told to embrace technology, changes,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 12, 2016, www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2016/07/12/Transportation-planners-told-to-embrace-technology-changes/stories/201607120077.
7Noteworthy examples include GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft and its acquisition of Maven and RideScout, Ford’s creation of Ford Smart Mobility, and Daimler’s investments in Moovel and Car2Go, all of which demonstrate that OEMs see value shifting from the physical vehicle to mobility management. Similarly, Google’s, Tesla’s, Ford’s and others’ continued push toward fully autonomous vehicles has many concluding that a driverless future will become a reality much sooner than imagined.
8Steve Trousdale, “GM invests $500 million in Lyft, sets out self-driving car partnership,” Reuters, January 5, 2016, www.reuters.com/article/us-gm-lyft-investment-idUSKBN0UI1A820160105;
Gautham Nagesh, “GM Maven car-sharing unit to expand to Washington, Boston,” Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016, www.wsj.com/articles/gm-maven-car-sharing-unit-to-expand-to-washington-boston-1463655531.
9Cole Quinnell, “Move smarter with FordPass, even if you don’t own a Ford,” FordPass, April 2016, https://social.ford.com/content/fordsocial/en/articles/mobility/move-smarter-with-fordpass–even-if-you-dont-own-a-ford.html; “Ford targets fully autonomous vehicle for ride sharing in 2021,” Ford press release, August 16, 2016, https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2016/08/16/ford-targets-fully-autonomous-vehicle-for-ride-sharing-in-2021.html.
10William Boston, “Daimler’s mobility services unit Moovel Group expanding to U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/daimlers-mobility-services-unit-moovel-group-expanding-to-u-s-1460635381.

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