‘The car was invented as a convenient place to sit out traffic jams’- Evan Esar. Did you know that the average European commuter in big cities spends as much as 40 hours a year in traffic congestions? Add parking problems and pollution and that is a sheer waste of time, money and good health! Do you take your car to the City Centre?
The Netherlands is working on a Mission Zero which will enforce zero emissions from new passenger vehicles by 2030. This would mean that the default choice would be electric vehicles. The smart cities of the future will enforce a host of other restrictions to reduce the congestion and impact on the environment. A Fortune survey had an interesting statistic that an average privately-owned car is stays parked for 95% of the time! And chances are that this number is going to increase further in the future. But we do not want to become car-free, do we? Time for some new and innovative mobility options, what say?
The GO sharing e-scooters are a regular sight in Eindhoven these days. Many of us have booked and enjoyed this convenience at least once and of course, felt proud about having done a wee bit for the planet. And it is not just GO scooters who thrive on this so-called ‘shared economy’. When you book a room via Airbnb or order food via Thuisbezord, you are patronizing this new model thanks to the power of technology. This shared economy is something that each of us is part of on a day to day without even realizing the shift. It is no longer the exception to earn entire degrees from shared learning platforms in universities, rent out office spaces only on the days you need or even hire that expensive piece of jewellery or a dress! Neighbourhood share groups give you access most basic household-related services without investing in tools and equipment which you use once in a blue moon. You might even be sharing your dog with like-minded pet lovers in the very near future! And all this sitting in your couch and subscribing to the service via your mobile phone.
So what about the automobile front?
The world cannot survive without Uber these days. We are already familiar with the likes of BlaBla car for shared rides. You might have booked the Greenwheels cars which offer flexible models where you can pick up and use the automobile for short, one way trips within designated areas. You can explore these as alternate to taxis for City Centre jaunts or cover a short distance to a public transport point. Apart from company fleets, these days, we have access to cars being shared by individuals who realize that their vehicle is anyway idle most of the time. For a longer rides, pick up and drop are usually at fixed locations. Pretty much like how car rentals work. Some automotive manufacturers are allowing customers to subscribe and drive a range of their models. No insurance, no maintenance or cleaning! When they tire of one model, they can opt for something else. How cool is that?
And the future?
The near future will see e-cars being parked around mobility hubs near bus stops, shopping centers, parks and other hot spots in the city. Already automobile companies are piloting these in bigger cities. In fact, these might serve as the bridge between public transport and your own vehicle. And if the mobility network is not just confined to the city and extends across Europe, how wonderful would that be? Further in the future, these e-cars might be autonomous (read driverless) and might even come pick you up at your doorstep and drop you at your destination! The autonomous cars might act as a personal space where you relax during your transit. Less traffic, less pollution, less accidents and certainly no hassle!
Will all public transport become free like Luxembourg in an effort to improve the green quotient? All parking garages turned to oxygen-rich parks? By 2030, will you stop owning goods altogether and buy only services? Probably! But you will drive round in a car for sure and that too around the City Centre. As the old saying goes “Sharing is Caring (for the environment)”!
For Eindhoven News
Muktha Kartik Iyer
Tech Tales is a series of features to highlight how technology is becoming an increasing part of our everyday lives. Eindhoven News will bring to you some interesting trends on the technology front that make our lives better. Watch this space for more in this series.