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Robo Taxis

In mid-November 2017, transportation sector’s worldly-wise people assembled at Columbia University to deliberate the future of mobility in the fall symposium of the American Geographical Society. Presented by the Earth Institute, the occasion delivered a hopeful picture of the world in 2050: Hyperloop pods will transport us farther and faster; drones will patrol our infrastructure to keep roads and bridges harmless; geocoding systems will help ambulances respond to emergencies anywhere on the planet. But the innovation that kept coming up again and again was the self-driving car. Specifically, “Robo-taxis” electric, shared, autonomous vehicles are gearing up to completely change how we live, work, and design our cities, just as human-operated cars transformed the twentieth century. However, just as the automobile had unplanned consequences such as climate change, air pollution, and urban sprawl Robo-taxis will generate new problems as well. Several conference speakers articulated concern that public transportation will end up taking the backseat on the road to the future.

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Visions of the Future

Electric cars are considered key to the future of transportation because they generally produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their gas-guzzling counterparts. The other great thing about electric cars is that they have fewer moving parts, which means there’s less that can go wrong. Electric cars are already running for 500,000 miles without needing major repairs, and they’ll eventually be able to reach a million miles about five times farther than a typical gas-powered car. That long-life expectancy means we’ll need to replace our cars less often, which would cut down on resource extraction, manufacturing, and distribution.

The real disruption is “the replacement of car ownership itself.” The growth of ride sharing, and automation will be driven purely by economics; the average American doesn’t need a car that drives 500,000 miles, because he/she only drives 13,500 miles per year the car would be obsolete long before it fails mechanically. But ride-sharing companies can push the lifetime of the cars until each mile travelled costs only one-millionth of the car’s original price tag. Plus, these cars will cost less to maintain and insure, so the cost per mile will be much lower than owning your own car. Making the car self-driving will increase safety as well as quality of life. Patrick Hertzke of McKinsey Automotive estimated that about 2 to 4 percent of cities’ GDP is lost due to the health effects of pollution and the productivity that’s lost while we’re stuck in traffic. With the growth of automated, shared, electric vehicles, “the whole value chain here gets disrupted,”. As car ownership drops, we won’t need car dealers, personal car insurance, or massive parking lots.

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Challenges and Opportunities

  • Change is never easy, and not all the changes that come along with Robo-taxis will initially be positive. The U.S. is still working out the rules and regulations for self-driving cars and ride sharing. Jobs will be lost. Oil production will plummet, which will affect the economies of many nations. Cities will be forced to adapt. In fact, ride sharing is already taking passengers away from public transportation
  • But ride sharing is not likely to out-compete all forms of public transit. In dense cities, subways and buses are here to stay. Ride sharing simply couldn’t match their capacity, even if we expand roads though transit will lose customers, especially in suburban areas. But it is up to the transit agencies to adapt and embrace new technologies. Opening their real-time data, making digital payments available, integrating and cooperating with other modes of transportation, and testing autonomy in buses and trains are a few ways that transit companies can adapt to this brave new world of mobility
  • Projections for how soon Robo-taxis could take over the streets ranged from a few years to a few decades. The transition won’t be easy, just as the evolution from horses to cars took decades and faced its own opposition. But we can learn from the past to help steer these new forms of transportation toward a better future
  • Moreover, personal mobility could change profoundly in the next two decades. Consumers, who increasingly view mobility as a service, want more choices for traveling between points A and B, including ride hailing, car sharing, and perhaps even self-driving “Robo-taxis.” For automakers, the proposed changes could replace the industry’s traditional emphasis on “moving metal” with new schemes to capture greater profits per mile or per trip. The focus may even expand from monetizing new mobility models to monetizing the time consumers spend in vehicles
  • Autonomous vehicles (AVs) could play a key role in this transformation. But the industry tends to view the phenomenon mainly through a technology lens, which, while important, only addresses part of the challenge. Industry discussions often focus on autonomous-driving levels, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers’ conditional, high, or full-automation specifications (SAE levels 3, 4, or 5, respectively). However, automakers also need to fill in several other gaping holes to understand autonomous-driving issues fully. That requires an ecosystem approach
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Global Robo-Taxi Market is likely to reach 238,856 — unit Sales by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 124.6% during 2019–2025 period

Unlocking the AV ecosystem via use cases

  • Building a successful AV ecosystem requires four perspectives. The first centres on the technology involved: What can it do now, and how soon will it be able to do more? Regulation comes next: How will it and associated policy-making initiatives create opportunities for deployment? Third, the customers: Who are they, and how willing are they to use the product? For example, from a total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) perspective, will consumers still buy private cars when AV taxis become commonplace, or will they switch to this new mobility option? Fourth, the business case: Is it profitable and sustainable? In other words, will shared Robo-taxis disrupt today’s shared-mobility market?
  • Use cases can also help regulators understand how policies might have to change in different situations. For example, in a “geofenced” area (one where the AV cannot leave the area), a private AV might face different regulations than an L4 Robo-taxis. Similarly, an L4 Robo-taxis operating in a city may face different regulations than an L4 interstate truck, even though both meet the same L4 readiness standards
  • The use case-based framework enables businesses to understand the underlying technology needed, the focus of regulations, the customer, and the impact on future value pools and go-to-market strategies all elements of an AV ecosystem

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The framework determines the following:

Understanding where fleets can operate AVs (for example, on highways or local roads) helps to frame the limits of the technology. These limits will identify the routes available for AV use and the business opportunities they provide for fleets. Likewise, the availability of specific infrastructure, such as the high-speed communications networks (for instance, fifth generation, or 5G) needed for successful over-the-air (OTA) software updates, will help fleets achieve total reliability in each operating environment.

The Robo-taxis use case: Exploring mobility as a service

By treating mobility as a service instead of a one-off transaction, automotive players could open new revenue pools worth billions, and in the process disrupt both the automotive and mobility business models. For example, a car company might earn only US$2,500 on average for each car sold; spread over a 150,000-mile vehicle life span, that works out to about a penny a mile. The mobility-as-a-service model throws that penny-pinching approach out in favour of a more lucrative profit-per-trip focus.

This represents a radical change in how the industry looks at profitability. It could signal a complete shift in thinking about the value of a mobility mile and how to capture it. Robo-taxis could recast profit pools and the ownership of “control points,” which are the profitable places that specific players control with hard-to-replicate, high-value offerings. For Robo-taxis, control points might include critical technologies such as AV sensors or operating systems, or specific customer touchpoints. These changes will have knock-on effects in other industries such as insurance, airlines, rail, and infrastructure.

The success of Robo-taxis will likely change car-ownership and public-transportation dynamics at a fundamental level. By offering lower mobility costs, greater convenience (for example, providing door-to-door service without disruptions), and increased productivity as they free occupants from driving, Robo-taxis will change how people think about mobility in urban environments. In fact, the extremely low costs associated with the use of Robo-taxis could make it a true game changer whose impact goes beyond current shared-mobility norms. The economics could convince people in large cities to switch entirely to shared mobility. In other words, costs this low could drive a major mobility disruption that today’s shared-mobility solutions can’t match, because they remain too close to private-ownership TCOs.

Robo-taxis will also affect society, boosting mobility options for the elderly, people with disabilities, and others with limited access to transportation, increasing automotive safety, and even reducing the need for urban parking spaces.

Looking at feasibility through 2020

Today, autonomous driving remains in the development stage, relying on humans to take control of the vehicle in the event of danger. Given the current state and existing technology hurdles, Robo-taxis will evolve in three stages on their way to full autonomy. These stages will have profoundly different profiles when it comes to potential miles travelled, roads covered, and journeys allowed.

After the emergence of the first stage, a series of technical improvements will boost capabilities and expand available use cases. That means new night-driving capabilities made possible by better cameras, processing improvements to deliver higher-resolution images, and enhanced training data. Likewise, enabling highway trips will require new data-gathering capabilities, improved artificial intelligence (AI), rule-based algorithms, and more robust sensors. Severe-weather driving will only be possible with better sensor hardware and the capability to gather and process additional data to back up decision making.

Each stage will have unique characteristics:

Robo-taxis 1.0, by 2020 to 2022: Worth approximately 200 billion miles of total travel, Robo-taxis 1.0 geofences the vehicle’s operating environment and could become technically feasible in the next five years. Constraints include operating only in clear or mildly inclement weather during the daytime at low speeds, on roads with clear lane lines and curbs, and in light traffic. For example, Robo-taxis during this stage could drive you around, say, neighbourhoods in Silicon Valley, picking you up from home and taking you to other local places at low speeds, while avoiding highways.

Many of these early experiments won’t have robust business cases, because the companies introducing them primarily want to log the miles of experience, they need to guide further Robo-taxis development. This testing will probably occur in suburban areas (not in city settings or downtown areas) for two primary reasons. First, the lower traffic volumes mean less complex AV decision making and fewer “edge cases,” which are unusual traffic situations like road construction, cars stopping on the road for loading and unloading, or crowds of people moving in different directions. Second, the typically slower, less congested roads can allow Robo-taxis to pull over safely if problems arise, without disrupting other traffic.

Robo-taxis 2.0, from 2025 to 2027: Now the fun begins, as Robo-taxis rack up an incredible 3.5 trillion miles travelled. Stage two gives Robo-taxis the freedom to manoeuvre in dense traffic and downtown areas, and on faster-speed roads and highways. In addition to suburban fares, Robo-taxis could pick you up at your apartment and ferry you via highways to the city to work or play, both night and day. However, intracity trips will likely predominate. The ability to drive on highways will enable Robo-taxis to accumulate significantly more mileage by commuting between various suburban and urban regions.

Robo-taxis 3.0, by 2030: With roughly 4.9 trillion miles travelled, stage three represents a true emancipation of the technology. It enables a Robo-taxis to pick you up from your home in Lincoln Park and drive you into Chicago (or vice versa), negotiating poor, unmapped, or unclear roads as necessary. And it will do so in virtually any weather conditions, including fog, hail, and heavy rain, and on snow- or slush-covered roads — conditions that would tax even highly experienced human drivers.

Whether the ability to travel on highways comes sooner or later in the Robo-taxis evolution remains the subject of debate. Some argue that it is more straightforward than suburban travel, with relatively constant directions and a minimum of edge cases. Others, however, say the higher speeds and episodic congestion could result in more dangerous accidents when something goes wrong. Whenever it occurs, solving the highway challenge will have the largest impact on the coverage of Robo-taxis, opening them up to billions of additional passenger miles.

Robo-taxis could clock miles running errands without passengers. For example, you could conceivably send the AV home to take your kids to school while you work, or have it drop you off at the theatre, automatically find a parking space, pay for it electronically, and then come back to pick you up at the curtain call.

Charting the Robo-taxis evolution and cross-industry convergence

A successful Robo-taxis ecosystem will depend on the convergence of a wide variety of players that come together to choose the best business models, ecosystem partners, and public and private partnerships. Companies will have to work closely with local governments to establish ground rules and partnerships and to ensure necessary infrastructure is in place. This might include ensuring that adequate high-speed data access is available and that smart traffic lights reliably transmit their status to approaching AVs, or it could entail collaborating with or supplementing public transportation. Other examples involve the creation of new electric-vehicle charging areas, the potential use of high-occupant vehicle lanes, and possible vehicle-to-infrastructure integration. Players also need to understand the impact on congestion and parking-space considerations. Companies must decide where and how to play in the Robo-taxis value chain as vehicle-fleet ownership becomes more commonplace. For some, such as automakers, this change could be difficult, since it involves moving toward a service-based, pay-per-mile business model and away from the classic product-centred pay-per-car approach. Car makers could also see a massive switch in customers as fleets begin to replace consumers as car buyers. Convergence also raises new safety and security concerns. For example, regulatory bodies need the ability to respond rapidly as technology develops to ensure safety while not impeding progress. Likewise, fleets will require robust cybersecurity measures to block malicious attacks, thus opening new opportunities for companies willing to invest in the right technology, expertise, and infrastructure.

Evolving plays require evolving players

  • Managing the transition to a Robo-taxis world won’t be easy. Many companies need to augment their core capabilities and business models huge undertakings in a rapidly changing environment, where traditional profit pools and control points can change quickly and unexpectedly. These new pools and control points include the ownership of software components such as those used in AV controls, as well as system and vehicle-level integration capabilities. Examples of the latter include determining who integrates all the vehicle’s different AV systems (hardware and software) and who integrates all the rest of its often-piecemeal electronic systems.
  • Currently, new players from the technology sector and mobility start-ups are well positioned to take charge of the new Robo-taxis control points. However, traditional automotive manufacturers can get back in the game, especially if the industry selects a single industry-wide AV solution, including both software and hardware. Such a decision can spread the risk and the cost of the new technology, accelerate development, ramp-up launch timetables, and easily out scale individual proprietary solutions.
  • The emergence of the Robo-taxis raises challenging questions for all mobility stakeholders. Consumers will likely want to know whether car ownership makes sense anymore, given the 24/7 convenience Robo-taxis will offer. Should they trade car payments, maintenance costs, and insurance premiums for shared-mobility subscriptions? Likewise, in the age of ubiquitous Robo-taxis, where mobility becomes a commodity, will car ownership acquire unique status and prestige? Automakers probably face the greatest challenge of all, as they attempt to transition to a mobility-as-a-service model. What will that look like, and how long will the “tail” of traditional car-buying activity be? What are the implications of the expected bifurcated transitional market, where car companies produce generic, bare-bones Robo-taxis alongside fully appointed private AVs?
  • Regulators must also explore new policy areas that extend far beyond the car itself to touch insurance, financing, and liability issues. How do they ensure decision uniformity across markets and remain sensitive to innovations that could radically alter safety, security, and privacy considerations? Likewise, cities and municipalities need to become proactive partners with the mobility industry to ensure the smooth integration of AV-related infrastructure
  • Can self-driving taxi cabs conquer the world? Clearly, they will have a major impact on the automotive industry, disrupting business models and conditioning consumers to seek alternatives to private car ownership. Robo-taxis could also trigger a huge mobility-as-a-service market one that enables new companies to participate based on the advanced technology content they can bring into play. If fully realized, Robo-taxis have significant potential to change the mobility industry, compelling incumbents and new entrants alike to determine how best to capture profitable and sustainable growth in this unfamiliar environment
  • A major revolution is taking place on the streets of our cities. And no, it is not just the increase in the volume of vehicles, rather it is more about the new automotive technologies and business models which have changed the face of the automotive industry. With the new concept of car sharing, the launch of Robo-taxis, and the growing interest in self-driving vehicles (SDVs) — this surely is one of the best times for the automation industry.

SDVs and Robo-taxis: Who’s in the driver’s seat?

Also known as autonomous vehicles, SDVs have evolved from the pages of sci-fiction to be the new urban reality. Multiple parties are already working on autonomous vehicle technology; there are SDVs with a wide range of capabilities like single-lane highway driving, autonomous driving, and traffic jam autopilot. Almost all the major stakeholders in the industry, be it the OEMs, technology providers, suppliers, or the regulatory bodies, have pulled up their socks to work towards broadening the scope of autonomous car technology. The idea of self-driving vehicles is also in sync with the United Nation’s goal of turning cities more safe, resilient, inclusive, and sustainable. As technology takes over the driver’s seat, with minimal to no human-interference, it is expected that intelligent traffic management will turn urban mobility into a seamless process. In the same vein as autonomous vehicles, Robo-taxis also have many takers. In recent times, there have been safety issues, and apprehensions about how secure one’s personal information in a Robo-taxis ecosystem is. This has prompted OEMs to come up with several security solutions which makes it easy to rely on Robo-taxis for everyday commute.

Car sharing: Moving towards a common goal

  • In a bid to bring down the carbon emissions, and decongest the city streets, the concept of car sharing has gained momentum. Car sharing services are gaining rapid popularity in the urban regions of both developed and developing economies. For instance, while Europe is the largest per capita earner, the Asia-Pacific region is the biggest market for car sharing services. DriveNow, Car2Go, and Flinkster are the major players in Europe; Zipcar is a leading name for car sharing services in North America
  • The concept of car sharing has opened new revenue pools as well as changed the models of OEMs. No doubt, there have already been changes in the urban driving behaviour, and as the market for SDVs is still under evolution, the car sharing market is witnessing ample investments. Also, contrary to popular belief, the growing demand for car sharing services has not affected the sales of new cars. In fact, the market for new cars has been growing steadily in the past one decade
  • It would be safe to conclude that urban mobility is undergoing a drastic change a change which has the seeds of revolutionizing this dynamic and competitive sector throughout the globe
  • Almost every key automaker in Europe is involved in car-sharing to some extent, from pilot programs with just a few dozen cars to large-scale services in major cities
  • There are signs this year that the sector, which is also referred to as short-term rentals, is starting to develop, with numerous operations finishing and the two biggest players, Daimler’s Car2Go and BMW’s DriveNow, declaring a merger in an effort to build scale and keep away rivalry from digital and technology companies such as Uber and Didi
  • Volkswagen, Europe’s largest brand, proclaimed that it would place 2,000 electric vehicles on the streets of Berlin, the company’s largest car-sharing initiative yet. In addition, VW Group’s young Moia mobility unit has been running a test service in Hamburg using an electric minibus. The idea of the facility is to help decrease traffic jams and pollution
  • The economics of car-sharing goes on indefinite, though. The global car-sharing market, which comprises hundreds of services not linked with automakers, is estimated to reach $11 billion in revenues by 2024, according to a study by Global Market Insights, with double-digit progress in users every year. But that does not essentially interpret into profits. DriveNow lost 17 million euros in 2017 on revenues of 71 million euros, as per BMW’s annual report, and Daimler reported losses of about 80 million euros at Car2Go subsidiaries, though the company says the service is profitable in more and more cities. “Our company has been investing in massive growth over the last few years,” a Car2Go spokesman said. “The strategic focus has been to gain market share.”
  • Making money on car-sharing isn’t the goal right now for automakers, experts said. As an alternative, they are using the services to learn about customer habits and best practices as they prepare to fight for a share of the Robo-taxis market as they evolve into mobility providers and move away from simply building and selling cars
  • “Akio Toyoda made a clear statement at the beginning of this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where he shared our willingness to transition from an automotive company to a mobility company,” said Luigi Ksawery Luca, the director of mobility and connected cars at Toyota Europe. Toyota has just prolonged its Yuko hybrid car-sharing service to Venice. It is even now in Dublin and Forli, Italy. Among the three cities there are fewer than 100 cars, but Luca said Yuko is intended to be a knowledge-seeking trial rather than a profit centre. “The purpose is to understand from our side how this business works,” he said
  • Along with plans to enter the car-sharing sector starting next year, Volvo says it will be able to build Robo-taxis from its second-generation scalable product architecture, known as SPA2. “We should have one specialized car for ride-hailing companies. This car will be very different because it will be built without a steering wheel,” Hakan Samuelsson told journalists when presenting Volvo’s 360c self-sufficient vehicle concept last month. Volvo signed a deal with Uber to sell the ride-hailing firm up to 24,000 XC90s underpinned by the first-generation of SPA

Learning by doing

“If you look five or 10 or 15 years down the road at autonomous driving, it makes a lot of sense why they are entering the car-sharing market now,” said Sandra Phillips, the founder and CEO of Movmi, a car-sharing consulting company based in Vancouver, Canada. “A lot of the things you learn in car-sharing, especially free floating where you have cars that are moving around in seemingly unpredictable patterns — which is not at all true — you will need to know when you get into autonomous ride-hailing,” added Phillips, who worked in business development for Car2Go before starting her company. “You learn the patterns of how people truly move.”

At the base of car-sharing lies the concept of mobility as a service, which many analysts believe will fundamentally change the economics of the automotive industry. Seen in that light, automakers’ involvement in car-sharing is essential to ensure their future survival. “We’re looking at an incredibly diffuse environment, looking forward, in the way technology interacts with conventional commercial platforms,” said Tim Urquhart, a principal analyst at IHS Markit. “That leads to questions about personal car ownership. We will see exponential growth in the range of mobility services.”

Peter Wells, a professor at Cardiff University in Wales and a principal in Stars, an EU-financed project that is studying car-sharing services in Europe, said the automotive industry was still struggling to find a way to integrate technology into its business model. “The industry as previously structured knew what it was,” Wells said. “They built cars in high volume, they sold through dealers, they made money on service in the first few years, and that was it.”

“Nobody knows how this emergent automobility world will work, how quickly it will come on screen, which places will be first, where the revenues will come from,” he added. “In the end, it implies a radical shift in the business model if we see it all the way through.”

Many transportation experts and automakers have confidence that ride-hailing and car-sharing will sooner or later amalgamate into fleets of Robo-taxiss that can be summoned by an app. “We are convinced that the future of car-sharing is electric and autonomous,” a Car2Go spokesman said. “We are already getting ready for this autonomous future today — no other mobility sector can prepare itself so comprehensively for the future of autonomous driving as the free-floating car-sharing sector.”

Movmi’s Phillips said that, ultimately, other modes of shared transportation such as bicycles, electric scooters and mass transit will be part of an ecosystem of services. “You can merge and aggregate those services, and create a one-click option,” she said. “As a user, I will be able to use the same apps I did in the car-sharing world — and now it’s a Robo-taxis world. It’s starting to happen.”

Building brand loyalty

Automakers are also making use of the amenities to connect with hard-to-reach young people who will be future car buyers or regular users of car-sharing, ride-hailing — and eventually Robo-taxiss. The belief that price and convenience are the only criteria for car-sharing — and that brand does not matter — might not be true, Phillips said. “We’ve seen studies that the younger millennials do care what kind of car they are using,” she said.

Wells, of the Stars project, said car-sharing users lean towards to be younger than the typical car buyer. “These are the kind of people who will be buying their own cars in the future,” he said, “so there’s a great marketing opportunity for companies to put their cars in front of those consumers, especially electric cars because there has been a certain amount of reluctance to embrace them.”

The Car2Go spokesman said the service permitted probable customers an easy way to test drive cars from Mercedes-Benz and sister brand Smart. “To see that they work perfectly could be a reason for people to opt to buy a new Mercedes or Smart, combustion or electric,” he said. Volkswagen strategizes to utilize its We Share service in Berlin as a bridge to its coming range of electric vehicles, after starting with e-Golfs and e-Ups. “Starting in 2020, We Share is to support the market introduction of the new generation of our new, all-electric I.D. models and thus make a significant contribution to the Volkswagen brand’s e-mobility offensive,” Juergen Stackmann, VW brand’s board member for sales, said.

VW’s car-sharing activities will always be 100 percent electric, said Philipp Reth, the CEO of Urban Mobility International, a VW subsidiary that develops mobility services. “We believe this to be the future of shared mobility, particularly in metropolises and large communities.”

Better user experience

Although car-sharing vehicles represent a tiny fraction of cars on the road in Europe, automakers say they are learning invaluable lessons. “User experience is king. It’s crucial,” said Luca of Toyota. “But customer experience is not only an app — it has to be supported by technology, and it’s also reliant on operations that are behind the service.” That means making sure the cars are cleaned, fully fuelled or charged, and in appropriate locations, whether free-floating or fixed points.

Another key is evolving relationships with municipalities to gain their confidence and secure infrastructure such as parking spaces or charging stations, automakers said. “These initiatives are possible only due to the relationships we have built over time with local authorities,” Luca said. “Without their support they can’t happen.”

Undeniably, car-sharing can flourish, or nosedive based on such associations. Car2Go pulled out of London in 2011 and Toronto, largely due to parking difficulties. “The overall problem was that we didn’t come to a substantial parking agreement with the cities,” the Car2Go spokesman said. “It’s decisive that customers can fundamentally end their rental on every public parking spot inside the defined Car2Go home area. Before the city council transformed the legal framework, Toronto was one of our most successful Car2Go cities in North America, with 80,000 customers. It was really unsatisfactory to leave the city, but the stringent guidelines left us no choice,” he said.

Car-sharing facility necessities are also shuddering up aftersales, which is a key profit centre for automakers. “Now, carmakers have dealerships, and customers carry their cars for maintenance. That won’t be the case in the future, so you need to know where to locate service centres. It’s not just about repairs, it’s also about hygiene and lost and found items,” Phillips said. Other serious factors are city selection, whether to have free-floating or fixed-point vehicles, insurance, and damage control, experts said.

Ready to rise

Looking ahead, the blend of BMW’s DriveNow and Daimler’s Car2Go may be the first of many in the car-sharing and mobility services sector. “More mergers are unequivocally inevitable,” IHS’ Urquhart said. “We will see more in the automaker domain; we will see more amalgamations and mergers including technology procurements. You have to create worth; you have to create economy of scale.”

Scale is indispensable to deliver coverage and to generate a “network effect” of new users, analysts and automakers said. “All of a sudden you do not have 750 DriveNow and 550 Car2Go cars in Munich, you have a combined fleet of at least 1,300 cars, which decreases the average distance for the users to reach the next vehicle. This is key for further use cases and handiness, and maybe even for enticing additional users to record and practice the service,” said Thomas Pottebaum, who is a director at Deloitte.

“In Germany, we have about 160 car-sharing services and providers, but less than 10 of them account for 90 percent of the market,” Pottebaum said. The ideal walking distance between cars should be no more than several hundred meters in the free-floating model, he said. “If you have a longer distance it’s too problematic even for one-way drives,” he said. Even if the earliest estimates are that Robo-taxis won’t be accessible until 2030, “for the auto industry 10 or 12 years is not that much time, so car-sharing is perfect for the automakers to gain and fascinate a huge target group and build a customer base for new mobility services adjacent to classical vehicle sales,” Pottebaum said. “There’s the risk that you will lose these types of customers to Uber, Lyft and other competitors.”

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