Global Trends 2020

Future of Mobility

Many of the macro forces acting on the planet are emboldening manufacturers and governments to accelerate developments for the future of mobility: rapid urbanisation driven by dynamic populations, our technological tipping point and the need to act on the pollution which threatens our fragile planet all point towards a new model for getting from A to B.

But in this debate, culture matters. In Global Trends 2020, citizens in five of 33 countries are more likely to be comfortable with the prospect of undergoing minor surgery performed by a robot than they are at the idea of simply travelling in a fully autonomous vehicle. Those in more affluent markets – Sweden, the US and Germany – are among the least convinced.

The implication is that realising the future of mobility requires political will, allied to an astute reading of what people want as both consumers and citizens; what they will tolerate (and buy), and how attitudes and behaviours can be encouraged and changed. Governments and manufacturers will need to balance over- and under-delivery and over- and under-regulation. Go too fast and they leave consumers and citizens behind – some are already forecasting industry capacity surpassing consumer demand for Electric Vehicles77 – while moving too slow risks missing opportunities.

There will need to be a concerted, strategic effort to ensure that people are ‘pulled’ and not just ‘pushed’ into future mobility. This means improving the offer, creating demand as well as supply. We find materialism and achievement to be strong global aspirations, especially among younger cohorts and emerging markets (culturally, car ownership is a powerful status symbol as well as a necessity for many). Combine this with interest in early adoption and there is room to pitch future mobility as a green, aspirational addition to the tech landscape.

For future mobility to be a success, it needs to work with the grain, pushing and pulling future mobility so that it is consumer- and citizen-friendly. The politics, as well as the product, must improve.

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