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"Organisations have fortified corporate walls and innovated behind closed doors. To successfully address personal mobility challenges, they need to collaborate within an ‘innovation eco-system’; in relation to technology and business models.”

Charlie Henderson, PA transport expert

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Collaborating to ensure a smooth journey for the future car

Over the last 50 years the car has been the most important means of personal transport. However, it now faces three major challenges: the need to reduce emissions, rising congestion and increasing demand for flexible mobility. No single company, government or industry cluster will be able to resolve these challenges on its own.

The future success of the car requires organisations and government to work collaboratively, bringing together ideas, talent and intellectual property from beyond traditional boundaries.

The car has underpinned economic growth by linking producers to consumers, facilitating social integration and creating innovation. Today, it faces three challenges:

  • growth in car numbers (to 4 billion by 2050) will result in significant congestion
  • the need to reduce vehicle emissions requires a new type of car that will be used differently and re-fuelled differently
  • many city dwellers want flexible mobility across multiple modes of transport rather than relying on a car.

Collaboration among industries and with government to address these challenges means that cars of the future will be markedly different from cars of today.

Electric vehicles as an alternative to oil-based engines

In response to environmental concerns and limited oil, the automotive sector is developing alternatives to oil-based engines, although these are some years from being economically viable. In the medium term, governments will encourage the use of electric vehicles through purchase/usage tax incentives. However, in the longer term, once electric vehicles become more prevalent, the cost of doing so will not be sustainable.

Future cars on the information highway

Vehicles already provide drivers with data on speed, location and fuel economy. Third parties also increasingly supply cars with traffic information services. In future, cars will collect and use a much wider range of information as part of the ’internet of things’ where everyday objects such as cars will carry an individual online profile. For example:

  • roadside sensors will capture and disseminate information directly to vehicles and road authorities
  • vehicles will exploit more accurate information on vehicle position, vehicle speed, driving style and journey origin/destination to communicate in real time with:
    • other vehicles (for safety reasons)
    • road authorities (to support congestion management)
    • energy providers (to inform vehicle-charging demand)
    • vehicle insurers/recovery organisations (for faster incident management)
    • retailers (for advertising to mobile phones as drivers enter shopping areas)
  • information systems will augment driver skills to make mobility more fuel efficient by planning routes, forming road trains (groups of vehicles linked by a sensor system to allow them to travel close together) and even driving the vehicle.

New city mobility solutions

Many organisations are developing innovative models to provide more flexible solutions:

  • combined rail and electric car tickets, such as those offered by the EV network and service provider, Better Place, and the Danish rail provider
  • car-sharing (putting your car into a car-sharing pool for common use) e.g. RelayRides in Boston, or ride-sharing (dynamically sharing empty seats) e.g. go520 in Seattle
  • High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes
  • off-peak vehicle-charging services provided by utilities
  • schemes to buy mobility rather than vehicles, e.g. Daimler and Peugeot’s pay-as-you-go schemes for cars and bikes.

PA is working with a range of private-sector companies, government and academia to help develop the future car – fostering convergence of energy, infrastructure, technology and automotive companies. This includes providing information to road users, developing new business models (e.g. car-sharing schemes) and developing strategies for technology exploitation.

To find out how PA can help your organisation be part of the future of the car, please contact us now.