Micromobility: Opportunities for Businesses
Micromobility refers to a type of small, light vehicle typically operating at low speed and driven by one person. Some examples of such transportation include bicycles, e-bicycles, scooters, and e-skateboards. Today, micromobility usage has seen an increase in major cities worldwide; it becomes the first and last milage transportation (that is, to cover short distances—home to subway, subway to office, for example). Therefore, a mobility business will find that turning its attention toward micromobility could lead to various opportunities.
FILLING IN THE GAP
Micromobility fills the gap between full mobilities, represented by larger, often multiple-passenger vehicles such as cars, trains, and buses. It can come in handy to navigate the city at a slower pace (for tourism) or to escape the congestion of roads and public transportation systems. The latter becomes more apparent with the increase in population, which prompts full mobility to become crowded and time-consuming to use. Information from Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center suggests that over time, people may adopt micromobility more while reducing full mobility’s ridership. During the pandemic, when demands for crowded shared rides decreased drastically, people opted for a personal ride for themselves and chose micromobility. Thus far, this trend has persisted, and is projected to continue.
MICROMOBILITY OPERATING MODELS
There are mainly two business models within the micromobility sector: direct selling and “Micromobility-as-a-Service (MAAS).” In the former, companies acquire (either via dealership or own-production) micromobility vehicles for reselling to customer. However, the risimg opportunity is the latter, which Allied Market Research stated will grow to an estimated value of $214.5 billion by 2030. Essentially, an MAAS company “rents out” vehicles to consumers while maintaining infrastructure that facilitates their operations. This includes providing charging stations for e-bicycle, creating centers for micromobility pickups and drop-offs city-wide, and building mobile applications for users to track and acquire rides.
ENSURING SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS
On the surface, it may seem that micromobility is sustainable and “green”—the vehicles are mostly electric or require no power at all. However, the problems lies in the fact that their lifespan is very short. According to Ericsson, a leading electric company, batteries used by micromobility vehicles last only a year or two, meaning that tremendous waste will be generated from discarded power sources and deprecitated vehicles themselves. With this knowledge in mind, companies wishing to operate a MAAS model should consider developing newer types of batteries with longer lifespans. Besides that, waste management must be prioritized; there must be systems in place to dispose used batteries in a cost-effective way that does not harm the environment.
Micromobility has the potential to become the future of transportation. Nonetheless, businesses must tread carefully and balance all the benefits with environmental concerns. If the challenges involved can be dealt with, companies could become one step closer to achieving a more sustainable future for transportation everywhere.
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