Event Review: The Business of Mobility
The second of the IdeaLondon Future Mobility events programme focusing on ‘The Business of Mobility’ took place last quarter. Below we summarise some key points and discussions made.
John Spindler, CEO of Capital Enterprise, introduces the morning’s event.
The IDEALondon Future Mobility breakfast event explored the business of mobility, focusing not only on how tech can improve mobility, but also how investors and funding can make it possible. We were joined by an industry expert discussing what he feels is the biggest challenge facing the industry, speakers from several startups making game-changing moves in the space, and a panel of exciting industry leaders to talk about the business of mobility both in the present and the future.
- Adopting electric vehicles on a wide scale requires a radical shift in how we view mobility. Factors like charging breaks will have to be taken into account – tricky in a world conditioned to expect rapid refueling.
- Key stakeholders and operators in this new technology must, therefore, work together to make the transition as smooth as possible. If they don’t, we risk people turning away from these services and sticking to what they know.
- The electric vehicle is not the entire future of mobility – but yes, it’s a big component! The future of mobility spans many different directions, as this event showcased. We can see that the technology is there, and already being used – there’s no doubt how broadly these technologies will be adopted given time.
Many thanks to…
- Our ‘Topic Expert’, William van der Byl, Electric Vehicle Specialist at Delta-EE
- All of the startup founders who presented: Nick Hulin from Ubitricity; Greg Fairbotham from Zoom-EV; Guy Barbor from Predina; and Peter Lindgren from TravelAi
- And our panel members, James Nettleton, Principal, Downing Ventures, Alex Smout, Principal, InMotion Ventures, Maya Pindeus, CEO & Co-Founder, Humanising Autonomy.
John Spindler, CEO of Capital Enterprise, opened by reminding us all that this event was created so people could connect with each other – share ideas, network, and inspire. The event allowed leaders from the mobility industry to discuss how technology can be used to better our cities and planet; prescient, as these days the business of mobility is greatly defined by the environmental issues that surround us. The UK government has set a target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions down to net-zero by 2050 – and in order to meet this figure, transportation needs to be addressed. In 2018, transportation accounted for 33% of greenhouse gases – the problem is of course particularly dire in large urban areas such as London and Birmingham. Public opinion is on the side of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport too, with UK diesel registration falling year on year. With Public and State opinion matched on the increasingly pressing need for change, the mobility industry is changing: We have to discover how to create a service in which environmentalism meets innovation. The first question on many peoples’ lips is whether electric vehicles are the solution, and if so, how should they be implemented in our country, especially in urban centres?
The first speaker was William van der Byl, Electric Vehicle Specialist at Delta EE, who explained Mobility as a Service (MaaS) wonderfully with a crowd-pleasing James Bond and Jason Bourne analogy. According to William, James Bond is where mobility is today – “he owns his own vehicle, he takes it everywhere he goes, it meets the majority of his transport needs… but he doesn’t use all the features in his vehicle all the time.” By comparison, Bourne’s transport method mirrors what the mobility industry wants to achieve – “he doesn’t own any vehicle, he chooses whichever vehicle reaches his needs at that time, whether that’s a motorbike or a car, and when his needs have been met, he gets rid of that vehicle.” William admitted this won’t be a quick transition, reminding us that “James Bond is not going to become Jason Bourne overnight”. Sorry, Matt Damon, looks like you’re out the running for that role when Craig goes.
Delta EE is helping companies to navigate this energy transition. They provide subscription research services and consultancy, helping organisations develop their best strategies. The shift to electric mobility is a big step. With more investment, new opportunities for electric suppliers, and fresh business opportunities – the mobility service is already making big moves.
We next heard from 4 great businesses playing big parts in making those moves happen.
Nick Hulin from Ubitricity told us about how Ubitricity is taking innovative steps to provide access to mobile charging systems. Ubitricity is an electric vehicle charging company, known for their lamp post charging tech – 50% of the public charging network in London is theirs, and they’re also in Portsmouth, Oxford, and Liverpool. Nick spoke about how at the moment, for many people off-street parking is still a necessity to charge their vehicle, something that isn’t always taken into consideration when electric vehicles are purchased. This leads to impractical solutions – trip hazards as wires trail across pavements to windows etc. Ubitricity is implementing an alternative – their main tech is designed to fit into existing lamp posts, keeping lamp posts designs as they are, which is great for conservation purposes, and they are also sometimes installed in bollards. As most lamp post charge points have a workload capacity of 5.5kW, and most EVs have a battery capacity of 50-60 kW, you’d usually need about 9 hours of charge time for your vehicle to reach full capacity – but Nick points out drivers rarely hit 0 anyway, and you can simply charge overnight, with your car ready to go in the morning after a night’s sleep. Ubitricity also have a simple pay as you go system which uses a QR code, or users can use their ‘Smartcable’ which allows them to ‘plug and pay’, with an online account telling you how much energy you’ve used. They also have systems in place for owners of fleets, allowing single drivers to plug in anywhere and have the bill sent to their company rather than their having to seek reimbursement at a later date. Ubitricity have partnerships with Honda, Siemens, and EDF – and they have also secured €20 million in funding.
Next up Greg Fairbotham from Zoom E-V spoke. An e-mobility company, Zoom E-V is an electric vehicle sharing platform: their aim is to increase the use of shared electric vehicles, but through that they’ve ended up doing several different things, including providing electric vehicle insurance and electric services bundles. Greg talked us through the lay of the land for EVs currently: 8 years ago, there were 5 models on the market; this year, there’ll be 60. Every automotive brand is getting into EV – VW invested 30 billion in it recently – and with ultra low emission zones, climate change on consumers minds, and upcoming tax changes for businesses, increasing the use of hired EVs via Zoom EV’s sharing platform is prescient. Zoom EV are creating a revenue for unused vehicles including individual’s sharing cars, councils whose cars aren’t used regularly and who are under increased pressure to make good use of their assets, and auto dealers who don’t know how to sell this type of vehicles, or connect people to the services those types of cars need. The other services Zoom EV provides are things they almost fell into. Their services bundle emerged from customer feedback – no one was saying when they purchased an EV what they’d need; Zoom EV can give discounts on where to charge, for example. Then they started providing insurance, as it is a big problem for mobility, particularly EVs. Zoom trained a team to deliver a newly worded policy suited for EVs; insurance is a thing people don’t talk about but is necessary for the MAAS solution.
When we talk about the future of mobility, we must mention safety. How can we reduce the risk of death, and reduce the number of claims made on insurance? Guy Barbor took to the stage next to explain how Predina is helping to tackle both these issues. Predina aims to predict and prevent vehicle crashes – based on environmental and road conditions. They are leading the way in the future of mobility, creating new safety mobility services and telematics. Guy puts it simply – “our mission is to get people from a to b, safely.”Predina’s model looks at a particular place, at a particular time, and risk assesses the likelihood of an accident. This will save lives and money, and is already making moves in the transport and tech industry. They’ve been recognised by leading technology, industry, and regulatory stakeholders. Notably Google, Catapult, the Linde Group, and SmartCitiesWorld. Their risk assessment produces a result with a rating of 0 to 99, using about 28 different resources to collect data. This can be:
- Railways (which they dynamically update every hour)
- Amenities in the location – think schools and hospitals
- Road Geometry – crossroads etc.
- Events – football games or festivals
However, a large portion of their data is based on historical collision data. Guys says, “What we are doing is looking at the context of where and when an accident is likely to take place.” With no information being taken about the vehicle, or how it is being driven, it’s purely based on the risk of a certain location at a specific time. With all this information, Predina can risk assess a journey as a whole, and find the “hotspots”. The company is aiming to provide 100 risk assessments, per mile, in Londo – around 1 risk assessment every 17 metres. These risk assessments are then incorporated into a satnav. If the driver cannot avoid high-risk roads, the satnav will ensure the driver knows about the risks, ensuring they can be more alert and cautious.
Last but certainly not least was Peter Lindgren, COO of TravelAi. TravelAi is a nationwide journey planner aiming to trump every other travel app. There’s no need to start, stop, or command TravelAi – it’s always running in the background. It even works with no data or reception, making it safe and dependable. It reacts to you – automatically detecting how you are moving, which makes travel so much more efficient. Peter told us how “this is all part of a bigger trend in mobility towards convenience, personalisation, and services on demand”. He praised Uber as ‘The Amazon of transport… They know customer data is their rocket fuel”. But there’s a big problem with mobility customer data – it’s incredibly fragmented. TravelAi hopes to tackle these problems and become an integral part of the future of mobility. Since TravelAi doesn’t require any input from the user, within a day of use they have all the information necessary. From working with cities, they know that they need this information to effectively manage change. They also work with transport operators, enabling them to better serve their customers. For example, Highways England came to TravelAi asking for a digital travel survey. This went beyond the typical survey that you see on the internet; they wanted to ask participants about “journeys that matter to them”. With their extensive customer data, TravelAi was able to provide this.
Finally, William van der Byl came back on stage to join James Nettleton, Principal at Downing Ventures; Alex Smout, Principal at InMotion Ventures; and Maya Pindeus, CEO & Co-Founder of Humanising Autonomy for a panel discussion on the business of mobility. Below we include some highlight quotes from that panel:
In 18 months, what do you expect to see and do yourselves?
James: We will be more about companies that provide electric vehicles to single users and subscription services.
Maya: I want to see a breakthrough in automatic vehicles.
Who will pay the tax for EVs, and who will vote for that?
Alex: There’s no reason why the transport industry has to pick up the tax burden, through usage. We all use energy for various reasons.
The IDEALondon Future Mobility breakfast events are for founders, corporates, investors, regulators and technologists who want to explore the latest mobility trends and best practices as we dig deep into the people and tech driving change. We will not only showcase the future but dive into the numerous challenges facing the industry, from technological to regulatory, from growth to funding.