Technology | Innovation

Connectivity, autonomy and sharing in the future of mobility

The future of mobility is about connectivity, autonomy and sharing, according to a panel of experts assembled for the first 2018 event in CEDA’s NSW Transport Series.

The panel included NRMA Chief Executive Officer, Rohan Lund; Transport for New South Wales, Point-to-point Transport Commissioner, Barbara Wise; Deloitte Partner and Future of Mobility Lead, Dr Kellie Nuttall; and Electric Vehicle Council Chief Executive Officer, Behyad Jafari.

There are currently around 2000 vehicles in Sydney and NSW. Trials of autonomous vehicles are underway. Yet the uptake is very small compared to global leaders, Mr Jafari said.

“Electric comes first. It is the enabler for everything else,” he said.

“What we’ve seen globally is, particularly governments, but also markets around the world stepping up and starting their transition into electric mobility. Around 2011 was the point where the market really started to kick off.

“Today around the world we have around three million electric vehicles on the road. We have leaders such as Norway (where) about a third of all the cars they sell every year are electric. We have other leaders at five to nine per cent.

“The global average, the middle of the pack, is around the 1.7 per cent of market share of new vehicles being electric and growing exponentially each year.

“In Australia for the last three years we’ve been at 0.1 per cent and failing to move.”

Mr Jafari said a lack of policy direction has restricted the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia. Incentives, such as bringing more models, particularly more affordable models of electric vehicles, to our markets, improved charging infrastructure, CO2 standards and education about electric vehicles would provide incentives for people to buy them.

Dr Nuttall told the audience that, as in other areas of the economy, data will play a huge role in future mobility services.

“We need to get much smarter, not only from a government perspective around how we fund infrastructure, but also around how we deliver better customer experience,” she said.

“Customers want the future to be all about a seamless, integrated multi-modal journey experience. You can’t achieve that in my perspective without data playing a key role in that.”

Dr Nuttall said a challenge in utilising data to improve customer experience will be in getting all the groups that want to carve out a space – telcos, governments, and industry – to work together as a sector to integrate and share the data.

Currently customers are worried about congestion, pollution and affordability of transport, the NRMA has found.
These concerns, Mr Lund said, may be driving increasing popularity of shared transport services. However, people aren’t ready to give up their car just yet.

“(Transport costs) for people in Western Sydney can be 17 per cent of household budget,” he said. 
He expects the share economy and more use of fleet vehicles to kick in as customers try to alleviate rising costs.

“People still have an attachment to having their own car. That’s not going to change necessarily but ride share is becoming more popular,” he said.

“Parking is a huge barrier for many people and the simplicity of being able to get from point-to-point is an essential part now of the way (the transport system) all works together.”

Ms Wise said as at 1 July 2015 there were around 30,000 drivers participating in the ride share industry. The latest figures put that at around 77,000 and it’s growing exponentially.

“The main thing we (Transport for NSW) have done is get out of the way of businesses being able to make decisions that meet customer demand. That’s the key (regulatory) change that we’ve made,” she said.

“Governments need to let the market come up with a whole lot more and see what customers are actually wanting and be more of an enabler rather than a purchaser or provider of the service.

“Certainly, governments are always going to have an interest in the most efficient way of getting people and goods around so mass transit is here to stay.

“And I expect we’ll have a continuing role in all of that but government is never going to solve a lot of the things that customers want in the same efficient way that the private sector can and I can see it (government’s role) is really going to be about enabling.”

The panellists agreed the future of mobility services would be about giving customers the transport system they want, transitioning to lower-emissions vehicles and lowering costs. The key to delivering such a customer-focused system will be getting all parties working together to deliver it.