Micromobility Will Change Our Cities

If you live in a big city like I do, it’s pretty likely you’ve seen small electric vehicles – e-bikes, scooters, or similar – zooming around.

Personal vehicles of that sort are rapidly becoming more popular as city-dwellers come to realise they don’t have to make short trips around town in chunky, expensive cars. In the EU-28 (EU plus the UK), e-bike unit sales grew from less than 100,000 in 2006 to around 3.4m in 2019. By 2030, unit sales could hit 13.5m if the legislative environment remains supportive, according to a report published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

There’s a name for this sort of transport: micromobility. That term encompasses any vehicle, usually electric, that weighs less than 500 kilograms (around 1100 pounds). As those vehicles become  rapidly more popular, they will fundamentally change the way we interact with our cities. This week’s podcast guest is the world’s leading expert on what that change will look like.

Horace Dediu wrote the book on micromobility. He also coined the term. He is, without question, the top analyst on this shift in personal transport. And this is how he sees the market growing in terms of unit sales in the next decade or so:

Source: Horace Dediu, Micromobility Industries

With a background in tech (he’s also a leading analyst on Apple), Horace understands not only how these vehicles and this market will evolve, but the next level up: the role software improvements will play in driving micromobility adoption, how personal travel will start to integrate augmented reality, and the ways in which big tech companies might play the micromobility revolution.

Horace’s view of the future is pretty visionary, and our conversation was really mind-expanding. If you want to know how different our cities will look in ten or twenty years’ time, you should definitely give it a listen.

🎧 You can listen to the podcast here, 📝or read a full transcript.

Not convinced? Here’s a small taster of Horace’s thinking – we get a lot more expansive and challenging than this – but it gives you a flavour:

We used to have a desktop, then we went to laptops and desktops... Then we went to tablets and smartphones and laptops and desktops. And then we went to wearables and smartphones… when we came up with a new form factor, we didn't discard the old [one]. Maybe we reduced its usage. Maybe we focused its usage to the jobs that it was best suited for… we are moving towards a bespoke solution for all the micro-problems we may have. The problem with cars, and the automobility concept, is that it's one size fits all. We tend to use it short trips, long trips, we tend to use it for one passenger and seven, we tend to use it for cargo and empty. The idea of micromobility is: let's fit the right tool for the job.


🎧 All that and more on this week’s podcast.

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