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10 Mobility Trends to Watch in 2024…

10 Mobility Trends to Watch in 2024…
10 Mobility Trends to Watch in 2024…
January 8, 2024   //   

The Mobility Revolution marched on throughout 2023: Electric vehicle sales shattered records, robo-taxis started (and then in some cases stopped) operating in major U.S. cities, the Biden administration began rolling out multi-trillion dollar climate investments, and a variety of potentially game-changing mobility tech innovations continued to come down the pike. Innovative last-mile modes like cargo e-bikes burgeoned in cities across Europe and the U.S., presenting opportunities for rethinking how we design our streets and sidewalks. Our call for 2024: this coming year will be about the integration of these innovations into more coherent new blueprints for urban mobility.

Electric shifts into high gear, but fleets lead the way

By nearly any metric, from global passenger EV sales to the number of public charging stations, the electrification of mobility is surging, though the growth of EVs has begun to slow in the U.S. While it’s hard to predict how the preferences of fickle consumers will evolve, commercial and public sector customers –– Amazon, Walmart, the postal service –– will continue to rapidly electrify their fleets. For fleet managers, the economics of electrification are becoming too good to pass up.

Meanwhile, look for more technological breakthroughs in battery capacity, such as innovations coming out of companies like TAE Power Solutions – these will enable faster, more efficient charging.

Autonomy continues IF operators and cities can work out a roadmap

From a purely technological perspective, 2023 was a great year for AVs. Politically, however, it was a mixed bag. The revocation of Cruise’s driverless permit in California underscores the important role that public opinion and politics will play in enabling –– or blocking –– the autonomous revolution.

But expect next year to be an inflection point for AVs beyond robotaxis. Companies like Beep, which makes small autonomous shuttles, are paving the way for a future of shared, autonomous mobility. The development and deployment of commercial AVs –– from food delivery robots to long-haul trucks –– will continue to rapidly progress.

E-Bike Revolution – not just cyclists anymore

Once the purview of hobbyists and enthusiasts, e-bikes have emerged as a crucial tool in an emerging world of car-free logistics. Partnerships like the Urban Freight Lab are working collaboratively to fast-track last-mile solutions previously impossible due to mechanical and design constraints, revolutionizing the form factor of the bicycle and adapting vehicles to streets unfit for cars. Likewise, organizations like the Equitable Commute Project in New York City are rapidly increasing the popularity of e-bikes among urban commuters. Just how big will e-bikes get? That depends whether city leaders get serious about building infrastructure to move people, not cars.

A tougher year for eVTOLs

Given high interest rates and skeptical regulators it’s looking like 2024 may be a bumpier ride for eVTOLS. Look for some serious consolidation in the space, with companies like Joby looking to gain an early lead. Regulations remain a major barrier but certain geographies –– China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates –– have shown an interest in being proving grounds for the technology.

More and more mobility will be about the data

Data is the backbone of much of the current wave of mobility innovation, from camera and sensor data in autonomous vehicles to real-time traffic and congestion information on roads and highways. As more public-private partnerships blossom, standards around what data can be shared will emerge as a major issue in 2024. With the first awardees of USDOT’s SMART Grants receiving funding in 2023, digital infrastructure risks sparking not only a gold rush but also a battlefield. The Open Mobility Foundation’s groundbreaking Mobility Data Specification (MDS) was updated last year to incorporate more transportation modes, and its equally impressive Curb Data Specification (CDS) initiative, will continue to evolve towards creating transparent, collaborative standards in emerging mobility.

Maritime innovation will speed up

While urban mobility often gets the spotlight in conversations around innovation, maritime transportation is undergoing its own seachange. Electrification and improvements in battery technology mean electric shipping may soon be viable, and companies like REGENT, which develops all-electric seaplanes, are spearheading a future of maritime mobility that’s both sustainable and efficient. Look to 2024 to be a year of significant disruption in the once-sleepy field.

New Cities

“New Cities” are, in some ways, old hat – just look at China’s massive investment in ‘ghost cities,’ sprawling complexes of apartment buildings with few, if any, residents. However, with city leaders confronting skyrocketing housing prices, congestion, and environmental threats, 2024 will see historic investments in entirely new “greenfield” cities, designed for digital integration from the bottom-up. This year sees the first parts of NEOM come on stream in Saudi Arabia, the first tangible signs that the world’s largest and most ambitious new city is becoming a reality. Meanwhile, 2024 may be the year we discover whether California Forever, the initiative backed by a group of tech billionaires to build a futuristic city in rural Solano County, is politically viable.

The digital curb gets real

Once an afterthought for planners and regulators, the curb has become a battleground, fueled by competition between delivery services, ride-hail operators, and traditional transportation. Revisiting how we conceptualize pickup/dropoff (PuDo) and delivery in a less car-centric world is going to be key to discussions in 2024 around the integration of emergent technologies. Companies like Automotus, which allows cities to access real-time curb and traffic activity for all modes (freight, delivery, cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians) alongside the ability to integrate payments and service charges, will create new possibilities for revenue and walkability in cities in 2024.

Major events / games

Paris, already the world’s most popular tourist destination, will be seeing even more visitors this summer when it hosts the Summer Olympics and Paralympics from July until early September. One thing spectators will take back to their home countries will be an appreciation for Paris’s pedestrian and bike infrastructure – and for seamless and integrated public transportation. Even though the city banned shared e-scooters last September, the city’s investments in cycling infrastructure and car-free streets have created a ‘bike boom’ that’s fast becoming a global model. As soon as the Paris games are over, look for the pressure to start building in notoriously car-centric Los Angeles, the 2028 host. THAT will be urban transformation to watch.

The farebox disappears

While private companies are replacing cash at nearly every point of sale, public entities, particularly transit agencies, have been slower to adopt cashless (let alone cardless) payment solutions. 2024 will be a banner year for progress in this domain: look to cities like Los Angeles, which is piloting cashless transactions on its Metro systems and creating a “mobility wallet” for underserved communities, for a peek at what a future payment system might look like.