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Cooperation is key for future mobility

Date: 05 February 2020   |   Author: Illya Verpraet

The Avis Budget Group says the future of mobility is shared, but companies will need to cooperate to make it happen.

A survey carried out by the rental company Avis across 16 markets in Europe and Asia suggests company car drivers may be willing to give up their cars if there is a suitable alternative.

Although a personal car is still the ideal mode of transport for 60% of Avis's respondents, this trend is likely to change if suitable alternatives become available.

Avis Budget Group international region president Keith Rankin said: "Changing needs and the expansion of the sharing economy offer both challenges and opportunities for the mobility industry.

"Our research has shown that while consumers are expectant of connected, integrated and on-demand services, they still want convenience at a reasonable price. It is imperative that different mobility players work together to ensure the future needs of consumers are met."

One of the most striking figures to come out of the research is that while 75% of respondents own a car and 80% think it is important to do so, 54% would consider giving it up if it was convenient and easy. What is more, only 31% think that ownership will still be the most popular way to access a car in the next decade.

At first glance, it might be difficult to imagine such a profound change, but the report suggests we should look at cities as a model for the mobility of tomorrow since most innovative mobility projects originate there. Furthermore, the world is urbanising, with two-thirds of the population projected to live in cities by 2050, so urban mobility will become more dominant than ever.

Possibly the most significant benefit of a fall in car ownership cited in the report would be the potential to make streets less congested, as fewer owned cars will be parked. Intelligent, shared cars will be in use for more of the day and sitting idle for less time than owned cars.

It stands to reason that public transport will play a big role in ensuring people stay mobile - 21% of respondents said that better public transport in their area would encourage them to give up their own cars. However, people will still want and need personal transport, so it would fall to fleets to cater for this. 

The need for personal transport and the company car's role in providing it is echoed by Caroline Sandall, national chair of Acfo, who told Business Car: "I think that the majority of fleets will recognise that more can and should be done, and while many are taking steps towards mobility, challenges over the suitability of non-car-related options make many of them impractical. 

"Most companies are looking at car sharing, car clubs, reducing private car usage etc., but that won't suit all people all the time, and in some areas the lack of a frequent, reliable and cost-effective public transport system does hold them back. We really need more support and leadership from government to help businesses shift towards more mobility solutions."

The report further states that a series of partnerships will be required to bridge the gap, noting that there are dozens of players in mobility, all of which have strengths in different areas. It is concluded that companies will need to view mobility as a holistic ecosystem and partner with organisations that best complement them. In such a flexible system, apps would be the driving force. They increasingly work across different providers, giving travellers additional flexibility, with technology and apps reducing administrative overheads by automating certain processes. The question is whether companies and fleets are ready for this.

Christopher Cerruto, vice-president of global architecture and analytics at Avis Budget Group, is quoted in the report, saying: "We have three main goals for innovation - reinventing the rental experience, digitising our business, and developing new models."

Shared cars controlled by apps does bring up the thorny issue of user data and how it is protected. Avis's report shows that 54% of its respondents were either very or quite comfortable for their driving data to be analysed to improve infrastructure services.

Finally, there is the popular topic of autonomous vehicles, around which the optimism of the last couple of years is fading somewhat. 

Rankin said: "We believe that we are very close to a tipping point where vast changes in mobility will take place in a comparatively short time. Even so, the full driverless utopia is likely to be some way off yet."