The cards in the mobility market are currently being reshuffled. Automobile manufacturers are competing with start-ups, suppliers or innovative companies. At the latest since 15 June 2019 – the start of e-scooter sharing in Germany – this dynamic is also noticeably arriving at the end user. Our recent study “New Urban Mobility” takes a look at the facts: is the hype already over? An interview with the initiator of the study, Jérôme Nonnenmacher, Nunatak Principal and head of mobility practice.
Mr. Nonnenmacher, you initiated a major study on the subject of “new mobility.” Why?
JÉRÔME NONNENMACHER: Since before the “Fridays for Future” movement, started by Greta Thunberg, people have been dealing with the issues of congestion, noise pollution and environmentally conscious mobility. Of course, this also affects us, The Nunatak Group – both personally and through our customers in the mobility market. And it is precisely in this area that the megatrend of digitalization is currently playing a decisive role.
As always, we also believe that what moves our customers also moves us. That’s why we want to use our market-research approach, with facts, to show the status of the transformation in mobility and the societal position of new mobility services. Since we always think in terms of the end customer, we get to the bottom of the issue.
What is your forecast: what trends will “new mobility” have a major impact on cities?
One can only speak of an impact when user behavior is permanently changed – otherwise it is usually not an impact, but rather just a media topic focusing on something new arising from the usual resistance.
In my opinion, platform providers such as MVG, Uber or CleverShuttle should join forces and make a seamless mobility journey possible – for example, with combination tickets for intermodal transport behavior, in which two or even three means of transport can be used at a fixed price. If this is then bundled into subscriptions – as has been possible for a short time now for example with the provider WHIM in Helsinki or in Augsburg – not only cost transparency will increase, but also the willingness of companies to offer these subscriptions as part of the JobCard commuter pass. Only in this way will usage continue to rise – and mobility behavior in cities change in the long term. Of course, individual services can succeed in establishing themselves, but the vast majority will only be developed through the introduction of a comprehensive platform. Personally, I see Google (Maps) at the top of the list. The best map data, pre-installed on almost every smartphone, plus outstanding development competence – if Google introduces this functionality, the mobility market will be really exciting.
Everybody’s talking about e-scooters right now. How do you see it: short-term hype or long-term business model?
Clearly a hype that’s here to stay! Getting around in the city is so individual, and users love simplicity and digital solutions – so e-scooters are absolutely in keeping with the spirit of the times. But they are only one category – in the long run, it is about additional local transport offers in the micromobility sector. E-scooters are also only the first evolutionary step and must continue to develop – that’s why the first weather-resistant “pods” are already being tested.
Overall, the business model of the e-scooters is very promising – with great brand awareness and high usability, the scooters can score points with users according to our study. But the competition among the suppliers is still very intense at the moment, and consolidation is only just beginning.
Five providers are currently competing for users. How many will ultimately survive?
Those whose capital lasts longer. The providers from the USA with ratings of over 1 billion euros have already collected a lot of money, but German providers such as TIER are also filling their war chests. To ensure that the business case works for them all, a realistic scenario is a maximum of two or three providers. From the user’s point of view, consolidation is also necessary so that up to six different apps are no longer required.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge, and will “new mobility” achieve a breakthrough here in Germany?
The breakthrough in the mobility market can only be achieved through good interaction between politics and regulation.
Well, then how can politics support the mobility transformation?
Politics has a decisive role to play, because without targeted guidance it will be almost impossible to achieve the mobility transformation.
In addition, all e-scooter providers can earn money through regulation. This regulation is aimed at data in particular. Many cities, including Lisbon and San Francisco, have already defined standards stipulating which data from the mobility service must be passed on to city government. This is real user data that each city should use to promote the mobility transformation with appropriate individual measures. In addition, data should be collected that is not based on lobbying, assumptions or mental scenarios, but rather is compiled from various sources such as public transport, car sharing and direct surveys.
Munich is a good example of the usefulness of new mobility offers. Local public transport, especially on the main lines, is based on the 1980s. Although the city is trying to adapt local transport, it can hardly shape anything proactively. Only new mobility services can prevent traffic collapse and complement current transport options sensibly.
How must established companies – especially automobile manufacturers and insurance companies – position themselves here so that they can keep pace?
The car manufacturers are just one big piece of the puzzle – it’s about an entire industry. Germany and the car industry are still innovation pioneers, even if you look at the patent statistics for autonomous driving. Anyone who believes that car construction is simple is making a huge mistake. Big companies like Google are also aware of this.
The automotive industry has competence in solving complex engineering processes, and it needs to transfer this competence to the digital world. This is why all manufacturers – whether BMW in Lisbon or VW in Wolfsburg – are creating digital competence areas.
If one looks at the insurers, however, they have already upgraded their companies with special units for new mobility and adjusted to what sorts of insurance people are now looking for, with regard to the new mobility offers. At the same time, the change from B2C to B2B customers is, of course, a challenge for all business models, because the customer interface from the B2C market has been eliminated.
Mr. Nonnenmacher, to what extent do you personally already use “new mobility” offers, and what is The Nunatak Group’s position on this topic?
Personally, I am a heavy user of new mobility offers. In particular when I’m traveling to foreign countries – that’s when the advantages of Uber and the like are more than convincing. In Munich, however, I still prefer to get to the office by bicycle.
In recruiting, we have long noticed that the days are over when people asked for a company car in job interviews. That’s why we have convincing alternatives when it comes to mobility. For our team, there are two company bicycles available, which team members are very happy to use for travel to meetings with customers. We also have a car-sharing business account. Other ideas such as a mobility budget or company bikes are already being discussed internally.
As part of our after-work event on 13 November 2019, we presented our latest study “New Urban Mobility.”