Future mobility solutions: What will tomorrow bring?

It is clear that less mobility is not an option; that is just not how our modern lives work. Instead we need better mobility solutions, and European automobile manufacturers are well under way to create them. In order to meet tomorrow’s mobility needs, the European automotive sector invests almost €45 billion per year to ensure new levels of clean, smart and safe mobility.

Clean mobility

In the future, road-transport related emissions will be dramatically reduced thanks to a greater uptake of vehicles with the latest technologies and alternative powertrains, as well as intelligent transport systems and improved infrastructure.

As a result of significant investments in charging infrastructure, the barriers that hampered the market uptake of alternative-fuel vehicles for so long will finally be overcome. Reliable and uniform charging infrastructure will be widely available across Europe for the whole spectrum of alternative powertrains (including electric, hybrid, fuel cell and natural gas vehicles). Thanks to a steady renewal of the vehicle fleet we will be able to reap the benefits of the latest low-emission technology, ensuring that vehicles consume less fuel (thus cutting CO2 emissions) and emit less pollutants like NOx and PM. The automobile industry’s investments in more efficient vehicles will finally come to full fruition, as fleet renewal brings the latest generation of vehicles to our streets in large numbers.

When looking at freight transport, heavy-duty vehicles will have made great strides as well. Intelligent transport systems in particular will help to make road transport much cleaner in decades to come. Truck platooning for example, which is the linking of two or more trucks in convoy via wireless communications, will become a common sight throughout Europe, saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions by up to 10%. For heavy-duty vehicles, we will have to differentiate between what is possible for long-haul transport and regional or urban use. Especially in case of the latter, we will increasingly see a role for alternative powertrains – with buses among the first vehicles expected to make a shift towards zero-emission transport.

Smart mobility

In order to meet changing demand, manufacturers will become providers of innovative mobility solutions rather than ‘just’ being producers of vehicles. The future will bring a transportation landscape in which private car, freight, bus, rail, pedestrian and bicycle traffic will be woven into a connected network, saving time and resources. This means that the number of vehicles with built-in connectivity will increase from 10% in 2013 to 90% by 2020. Although the sharing economy will continue to grow, individual vehicles will still remain in strong demand, due to their flexibility and the new scope to make valuable and productive use of the time spent in vehicles.

Automated driving will assist those with reduced mobility – for example the elderly and those with visual or other health impairments – to continue or start to drive, either supported by automated systems or within a fully autonomous mode.  Connected cars will also make the car an extension of our home or office, providing the potential to enhance driving by making it more convenient, time saving, and less stressful. Vehicles will not only be connected with each other, but also with the infrastructure around them. Traffic lights, for example, will optimise transport flows. The need for parking spots in cities could also be reduced by up to 60% thanks to self-driving vehicles. Increased traffic efficiency means less congestion, with people and goods arriving at their destinations faster and emissions being lowered significantly.

At the same time tailored mobility and transport solutions will lead to new ownership models, customised intermodal mobility solutions and new logistics concepts. As a result, the auto industry’s traditional business model of vehicle sales will be complemented by a range of diverse, on-demand mobility solutions, especially in urban environments. Freight transport will also adapt to new logistics trends and systems, based on a supply chain combining long-haul and last-mile solutions, with logistics platforms on multi-modal corridors – all managed by intelligent transport systems.

And let’s not forget about public transport! The next generation of high-service collective transport will be born, including bus corridor concepts based on intermodality, with full integration between cars, bus, rail and non-motorised mobility. However, privately owned vehicles will remain the main providers of individual mobility, and new mobility concepts will offer on-demand mobility whenever desired.

Safe mobility

In the years ahead, further technological breakthrough will come through the interaction between vehicles and the infrastructure, as well as a higher uptake of vehicles equipped with active safety systems. Smarter infrastructure will enable the exchange of safety information - such hazards on the road ahead - between drivers, vehicles and road infrastructure. Improvements in the design, construction and maintenance of road infrastructure will significantly improve safety. Unclear traffic signs and poor lane borders are a thing of the past. This means that in the future we will be driving with low risk of accidents, and a low impact of any accidents that do occur.

Intelligent transport systems and connectivity will improve road safety, as vehicles, their operators and their occupants will be made aware of traffic-light phases and roadworks, hazardous situations (such as accidents, obstacles or icy roads) - and will be able to respond accordingly. Tomorrow’s connected car will contain highly complex, technically-sensitive systems that will be indispensable for safety-critical applications, making data protection paramount. That’s why automakers continue to be committed to protecting the personal data and privacy of their customers.

We can further increase road safety through autonomous driving – nine out of ten accidents are due to human error. It is estimated that a 70% reduction in accidents would be feasible if self-driving vehicles represent a considerable share of the car fleet. But, fully autonomous vehicles are unlikely to be commercially available before 2020. Meanwhile, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) will play a crucial role in the medium-term to prepare policy makers, customers, and businesses for the reality of cars taking over control from drivers.

So how do we get there? What role should policy makers play in delivering cleaner, safer and smart mobility? Learn more about the future of mobility in ACEA’s Manifesto for Clean, Safe and Smart Mobility by clicking here.

This is the second article in a series on the Manifesto for Clean, Safe and Smart Mobility, which was launched on the occasion of ACEA’s 25th anniversary.

The Manifesto presents an overview of what progress has been made to date by Europe’s automobile industry. It also identifies where we stand today, by explaining the environmental challenges and rising demand for transport we face. Finally, the Manifesto provides a glimpse of what tomorrow will bring, by exploring the potential of future mobility solutions. This Manifesto also makes 10 key policy recommendations to ensure that the mobility of the future will reach new levels in terms of environmental performance, safety, as well as automation and connectivity.

Click here to discover ACEA’s Manifesto for Clean, Safe and Smart Mobility.

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