Wisdom Wednesday: The future mobility delusion
‘Among the first observations that became apparent during the initial stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic were the contradictions that the (automotive) world at large was faced with. So while the ‘personally owned car’ was perceived as a safe place during the pandemic, it was also effectively reduced to a cameo role. However, the more immediate effects that became visible was a noticeable reduction in vehicle accidents...lower vehicle usage rates also imply that vehicles could potentially last longer and eventually requiring more maintenance and spare parts. It was also witnessed that the lower traffic levels led to significantly higher (and often illegal) vehicle speeds causing more wear and tear.
Media reports from China 3 suggest that prolonged home isolation measures could lead to higher divorce rates, which could potentially lead to more car sales as a typical ‘one car family’ might now become ‘two families in need of two cars’
The previously booming Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) sector – such as ride-hailing or car-sharing — is currently facing its first global crisis, and the initial impact has been devastating to say the least. Recent Lyft and Uber financial releases suggest trip requests were down by between 75% to 80% respectively; while it is not as bad as the impact on PT at about 90% 5 decline, it does highlight that the current ‘fear factor’ for MaaS is a major issue that could potentially derail the success story.
So far consumers around the world have been abstaining from MaaS apps and have been returning to the perceived safety of the personally owned car owing to the COVID-19 situation. In our view it is unavoidable that the growing reliance on personally owned cars will continue for the short- to mid-term outlook, especially as vehicle manufacturers will be keen to exploit this opportunity for perceived safety and cleanliness. Expect new solutions for vehicle interiors that fend off germs (especially for steering wheels, door handles, and high-grade air filters) as these will continue to amplify the safety of personally owned cars.
The COVID-19 constant fear of contagion, followed by waves of infections and finally, when it seems safe to return to some form of normality the automotive sector could get hit by what can best be described as the great mobility delusion. Hence, further research remains necessary, and IHS Markit is in the middle of a dedicated research program uncovering exactly these and other issues; all centred around the themes of mobility channels, technology, remote working, personally owned cars, societal issues, and cities.
-Automotive News: COVID-19: The future mobility delusion. 8/3/2020, Photo: Shutterstock