COMMENT: Mobility is no longer a concept, but a product

In a market more interested in access to mobility than ownership, now is the moment the auto industry needs to brace itself for Mobility as a Service, writes Jack Hunsley

The way we think of mobility is changing. Off the back of disenchantment with traditional taxi and public transport services, the new connected age has given birth to an entirely new transportation concept, in the form of Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

While a decade ago the notion of hailing a ride from a complete stranger via your mobile device would have seemed completely alien, today’s array of ride-sharing, ride-hailing, autonomous shuttles and pay-as-you-go car clubs has changed the way that millions of commuters travel around their cities.

While it is unlikely that the wide-scale adoption of MaaS will be a make-or-break development for the industry as a whole, it will be important for existing players to ensure they remain competitive going forward

At this nascent stage, MaaS transportation is becoming an ever more exciting prospect, both for the consumer and the provider. Given there are no set rules for how a MaaS system should work, companies have been able to experiment from concept to concept and city to city, with each new experiment finding its own pros and cons. As ever more major industries evolve from product ownership to service usership, such as music and video streaming, it may not be long before the automotive industry – either through eagerness or reluctance – also opts for a subscription-based model.

In many ways, the automotive industry is being forced to tackle the concept that mobility, not vehicle ownership, is the main concern of many consumers. For the more prosperous locations, MaaS transportation is already providing a key service for those unable to afford to own and run their own vehicle. At the same time, cities in emerging markets, and those with poor public transportation networks have found that MaaS has become an invaluable resource in the daily lives of millions of commuters.

For the automotive industry, the task of coming to terms with, and remaining relevant within and against this emerging market, is significant. Many players, both large and small, have begun to dip their toes into this new revenue stream, with varying degrees of success. While it is unlikely that the wide-scale adoption of MaaS will be a make-or-break development for the industry as a whole, it will be important for existing players to ensure they remain competitive against these newcomers going forward.

In many ways, the automotive industry is being forced to tackle the concept that mobility, not vehicle ownership, is the main concern of many consumers

Regardless, MaaS appears to have firmly laid its foundation in the automotive industry. As the industry begins to put more of its chips behind Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles as being the final piece in the jigsaw of what will be the future of mobility, MaaS stands to play a major role if this prediction does indeed become reality.

To learn more about the evolution of transportation models, and the way our understanding of mobility is changing, download Automotive World’s latest Special report: Will Mobility as a Service become the new normal?

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