The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted mobility, and its effects will linger well into next year. How will changing consumer preferences, technologies, and regulations shape the market in 2021?
COVID-19 swept across the globe in a matter of months, jeopardizing lives, upending businesses, and setting off a worldwide economic slump. Consumers are intensely focused on health and have altered many long-standing habits and preferences to avoid infection. Within the mobility sector, this means that many passengers favor transport modes perceived as safer and more hygienic. Suddenly, private cars are in and shared rides seem to be out. Working from home is on the rise, again with the goal of preserving safety, while business travel and all the mobility services attached to it—flying, taxis, e-hailing—are in low demand. The best-laid plans of mobility players appear to be in tatters. It may seem that the acceleration of future mobility has come to a halt, but this first impression overlooks recent developments that will have a tremendous impact on mobility’s future.
Consider some recent developments: cities have redefined car lanes to create more space for bikes and scooters as people began to avoid public transportation. Similarly, government incentives to help the automotive industry have encouraged the use of carbon-neutral solutions and stimulated the development of electric vehicles (EVs). In another shift arising from the pandemic, consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels—from convenient food deliveries to streaming services—and they now expect mobility players to expand their online offerings.
Such fundamental changes, along with other recent developments, are prompting mobility leaders to reimagine the future of mobility. They had already been adjusting their strategies to the emergence of ACES—autonomous driving, connected cars, electrified vehicles, and shared mobility—and now they are going even further to account for the pandemic’s impact on consumer behavior, policy making, and regional economies. The following shifts are likely to persist long after COVID-19 is controlled and thus deserve particular attention:
- Customer preferences. In addition to safety, consumers are becoming more focused on digital channels and sustainability issues. Access to micromobility options—lightweight vehicles such as bicycles, e-scooters, and mopeds—will be important, as will safety and health issues.
- Technology. The pace of change will continue to accelerate in all areas, including connectivity, autonomous driving, and urban transport.
- Regulations. We expect regulators to become even more active within the mobility sphere. Many, for instance, are tightening CO2 regulations for vehicles as they attempt to reduce climate change.
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SOURCE: McKinsey & Company