Currently, there are roughly 7.4 billion people on our planet, already more than half of whom live in urban settlements. In Europe the urbanisation rate is even higher, with almost 74% of all Europeans living in cities today.
It is estimated that in 2050 our planet will count 9.7 billion inhabitants, with one-third of people living in rural areas and two-thirds in urban settlements. By then, more than 82% of people in Europe will live in cities.
Today, cities already concentrate the majority of economic activities and output, but at the same time they also consume most of the world's resources and energy supplies. In 2014, 64% of all travel was made within urban environments, and forecasts predict an increase in demand for mobility of 2.6 times the current levels by 2050. If these daunting figures show anything, it is that Europe’s rapidly increasing urbanisation risks generating an unprecedented amount of urban traffic, from freight vehicles to passenger cars, in the decades to come. Already now, European cities are facing serious challenges as a result of congestion, pollution and traffic accidents.
In the future, European cities will need effective and integrated transport networks that can respond to the need for increased mobility of businesses and citizens. Innovation in the field of connected driving and intelligent transport systems will allow passenger cars and commercial vehicles to become part of these integrated networks.
Besides developing vehicles that better fit an urban environment, manufactures are also developing completely new mobility concepts. For example, they want to complement their traditional business model of selling vehicles by a range of diverse, on-demand mobility solutions, especially in urban environments. Think of customised intermodal mobility solutions, innovative logistics concepts and new models of ownership, such as carsharing. Manufacturers are evolving from being ‘just’ producers of vehicles to providers of integrated mobility solutions.
In parallel, our industry remains dedicated to ensuring affordability for consumers and transport operators. Because it’s not just a question of moving people, the delivery and collection of goods in urban areas also has a major impact on the economic power, quality of life, accessibility and attractiveness of cities. Changes in consumer demand are already transforming the types of goods that are being delivered, their distribution and the organisation of deliveries. Powered by intelligent transport systems, freight transport will be able to adapt to new logistics trends and systems in the future.
And let’s not forget about public transport. The next generation of collective transport will be based on full integration between cars, buses, metros, tramways, trains and non-motorised mobility. Each of these transport modes has different characteristics and will be complementary, and connected, to the other modes. However, privately owned vehicles will remain the main providers of individual mobility, and shared mobility concepts like carsharing will offer on-demand mobility whenever desired.
At the same time, reducing air pollution remains a priority for Europe’s automobile manufactures. Vehicle manufacturers continue to invest a wide range of technical solutions, from alternative powertrains to highly-efficient combustion engines, to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and pollutants, and with that further improve air quality.
But industry cannot do this alone, we need a European policy framework that is coherent. The challenge we already face is that at the moment local authorities are responding to urban mobility challenges with an array of mainly unharmonised schemes aimed at restricting access. These are increasingly creating difficulties for citizens as well as for local and international business. Instead, a coherent policy framework is needed to ensure maximum harmonisation, simplicity, stability, integration and acceptability.
Contrary to what is the case now, new policy measures should not disrupt businesses and should be non-discriminatory, instead of increasing inequalities between city and suburban residents, singles and families, residents and non‐residents. Acknowledging that efficient mobility and transport is a fundamental requirement of cities, policies should aim at improving traffic fluidity, rather that restricting it.
Cities are places of innovation, they are drivers of our economy and places where wealth and jobs are created. At the same time, urban areas are characterised by density: of people, activities, interactions and economic, social and cultural functions. Thus, cities are where the opportunities and threats to sustainable development come together. The future of urban mobility 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. It is within the cities that our industry will have to leverage the benefits of digitilisation to contribute to the further decarbonisation of transport in Europe.
ACEA’s new paper titled ‘The 2030 Urban Mobility Challenge’ describes transport solutions that will help meeting future mobility demand, click here to discover the six main drivers of future mobility!
Secretary General of ACEA