The future of mobility: How we’ll get there

By Nick Jameson and Derek Pankratz

In the first two posts in this series, we looked at some of the surprising ways the extended global automotive industry is transforming into a new mobility ecosystem and offered a glimpse at one way we might use that ecosystem for faster, safer, cleaner, and more efficient travel.

But how should the players position themselves to capitalize on this evolving ecosystem? What new opportunities will present themselves? Enabling a seamless intermodal journey like this one will likely require a much more complex ecosystem than today’s automotive industry. Companies might either design new products, services, solutions, and business models to serve multiple modes of travel simultaneously, or accept a narrowing of their horizons. Both incumbents and disruptors are starting to stake out positions in this diverse ecosystem.

Vehicle development will remain critical. The carmaking business will likely give rise to new products, from small utilitarian autonomous “pods” to highly customized, personally owned self-driving cars. Nearly every automaker and several tech firms are investing in autonomous drive technology. Several companies are developing advanced additive manufacturing (3D printing) techniques for making customized vehicles, and multiple companies are working to bring affordable, extended-range electric vehicles to market in the next few years.

Automakers should look to developing adaptable, flexible manufacturing; lean supply chains; autonomous drive hardware and software; and customer-centric retailing that links customers to product design and manufacturing.

The in-vehicle transit experience will become central—in the United States, drivers spend roughly 160 million hours per day behind the wheel, and much of that time will be freed up by shared and autonomous mobility. “Experience enablers,” including content providers, data and analytics firms, advertisers, entertainment equipment providers, and social media companies, will rush to fill this vacuum and make travel relaxing, productive, or entertaining.

Predictive content analytics will be central to optimizing the experience, tailoring suggestions based not just on user history but also the specifics of a trip and social interactions. Platforms and data will be the lifeblood of this system.

Physical infrastructure enablers will look to provide smart tolling and dynamic road usage pricing as well as traffic flow management. Energy providers and retailers could be required to manage an increasingly complex supply chain, including battery recharging and replacement.

A parallel digital infrastructure will be every bit as critical, as data becomes the new oil. To succeed in this area, companies need to offer seamless connectivity, a horizontal operating system shared across the ecosystem that can bridge vehicles as well as mobile devices and Internet of Things architectures, and network security.

Mobility management will be another vital component in the ecosystem. Mobility advisers will aim to enable a seamless intermodal transportation experience, ensuring easy access, a top-notch in-transit experience, a smooth payment process, and customer satisfaction. They will use customer preferences, traffic data, and more to tailor the most convenient and cost-effective mobility plan for each trip. That means developing mobility data collection, predictive analytics, user control, and relationship management.

Any company involved in the movement of people or goods should begin identifying now where it wants to play in the new mobility ecosystem.

  • Evaluate the potential impact: The transformation will likely be major, and the change may come sooner than you think.
  • Determine which role or roles you aspire to in the new ecosystem.
  • Assess how your current capabilities match those required for future success.
  • Evaluate competitive intensity, and be clear-eyed about how you stack up against incumbents in that space.
  • Develop a roadmap to build the needed capabilities, whether through acquisitions, partnerships, or internal development.

Change is coming soon, along with rising consumer expectations, and the extended automotive industry will need to adapt quickly. Learn more in our full report.


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