Electric & Urban Mobility

The way we move is changing, with more environmental awareness in people’s minds, electric cars are becoming more and more popular.

This trend has already emerged some popular companies like Tesla, which is about to release its newest car the Model 3, with about 455,000 reservations (as of July 2017). The company´s success has pressured established car manufacturers to enter the alternative-fuel market.With the fall in price of battery packs making Electric Vehicles competitive with conventional vehicles, the rapid growth in EV sales in China, which is now the world´s biggest market for cars as well as the remarkable pre-sales of the Model 3, major premium carmakers change their vision of the electric market as a niche market. Volvo for example announced to eliminate solely gasoline-powered vehicles in its line-up by 2019. Chinese companies are also putting pressure onto their western competitors. BYD, selling more than 100,000 EVs to the Chinese market alone, is showing ambitions to export to Europe and US.
NIO, an impressive Chinese start-up with studios in Munich, London and San Jose, is proof of Chinese companies being past copying western brands and adapting design and innovation as the core of a successful enterprise. The obstacles for the electric car industry, are not just to test and develop a whole different technology but to create an infrastructure which allows the customer to travel longer distances without unpleasant waiting hours. Furthermore, our power infrastructure must be designed to support charging EVs in large quantities. As the electric infrastructure in Europe is more and more depending on regenerative energie, it could profit from a large amount of batteries connected to a smart grid, allowing a large electric buffer. But this trend is not just limited to the automotive industry. With a large majority of people in Europe (more than 60 %) living in an urban environment, cities are facing overloads of road networks, pollution and a constantly growing and more dense population. Living space is becoming a sparse commodity within city centres, making parking and owning a car an expensive and uncomfortable experience. For young people, owning a car doesn’t seem as important anymore as it was for other generations. Values are shifting and for many a modern urban lifestyle doesn´t include owning a car anymore. With car-sharing becoming popular in selected European cities, it is an alternative for many living there, having access to a car in  case they need one without owning one. Possession of one expensive single car is being opposed by driving the newest BMW, Mini or Mercedes models on demand without to worry about taxes, insurance or fuel cost.
For daily transportation inside the city, bicycles are becoming ever more attractive. City councils are trying to make it safer to use the bike by creating cycle-lanes and banning motor traffic from certain areas. Sometimes it’s the lack of proper alternatives of public transport why people choose the bike, urban areas are growing very fast and often the administration is troubling to augment and adapt public transportation to the amount of people. A bicycle still gives you the freedom of owning your own personal vehicle, the possibility to go where and whenever you want, something most public transportation systems fail to deliver. Unfortunately, a bike´s speed and range are linked to the user´s condition. There are people limited in their condition to use a bike. But the market for small personal EVs is booming, there are constantly new concepts put onto the market.

 Especially here in Barcelona you cannot miss the diversity of small electric scooters, if its balanced one axle, one for the sand and beach, classical one with motor or just simply a e-bicycle. Although small personal EVs might increase the distance you can travel and they are becoming more advanced and more common, they are not the solution for every situation, especially for those commuting from sub-urban areas. These commuters are confronted with the increasingly sever congestions around metropolitan centres in Europe, many of which still depend on personal transportation, either because of comfort or lack of alternative efficient public options.
 Autonomous driving could be the solution to many of these problems, either in shape of your own car or a service, which opposite to a train or a bus still gives you the complete freedom of selfdetermination.Even though it still seems for some like an imagination out of a movie, and there are a lot of unanswered moral issues, some companies are already working on making this possible in near future. Tesla cars from January 2016 onward for example, already have partial driving automation, the so-called Tesla Autopilot. It can act autonomously but still requires the full attention
of the driver.
Starting in October 2016, all Tesla cars are built with the hardware to support full selfdriving, operating in “shadow-mode”, collecting data but not taking any action, to improve and develop the software. The goal is an over-the-air update on existing models soon, allowing full selfdriving. But Tesla is not the only company investing in this potential new market, Google created a company now called Waymo, already testing these vehicles in different locations in the US. These are by far not the only examples, but what do we have to expect in the future? We just step into any
car we want and get driven wherever we want? If we are not busy driving how will we experience travelling be instead?
Here is the opportunity for design, to create and fit the concepts and emerging technologies into the context of our society, to help our clients to understand their customers, to stay agile and adapt business models to the changes of the market, and to create a greener tomorrow for us and future generations.