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App instead of Car?

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Mobility is changing. In the future, the private car should become increasingly unimportant, instead new services should make passenger and freight transport cheaper, more environmentally friendly and faster.

The private car is a discontinued model, the goods car is replaced by the service “promotion”. “Mobility as a Service (MaaS)” is the name of this vision of the near future currently being occupied by automakers, software makers and transport companies worldwide. The announced benefits of this upcoming mobility revolution are considerable, but there are also open questions and risks. 

What the future of traffic without a private car could look like you may see in Finland right now, In the capital city of Helsinki, Sampo Hietanen has set up one of the most well-functioning mobility services worldwide with its start-up “MaaS Global”.

At the heart of his idea is a travel planning app called “Whim”, which allows the user to choose the best mode of transport for their planned trip. In addition to bus and train car sharing offers are considered as well as rental cars, Taxis or rental bikes.

Although there are similar apps in this country long ago, unlike Whim they usually do not allow direct online booking of all means of transport on the phone. And not only individual tickets can be ordered via the service, permanent users can also complete a kind of flat rate mobility and then use all means of transport unlimited from 500 euros per month.

As a cheaper solution, there is a 50-euro subscription, which covers, for example, the cost of a rental car to a maximum of 50 euros per day. No customer needs to make a long-term commitment, the subscriptions can be terminated at any time – which has earned Whim the nickname “Netflix of Mobility”. Similar to the movie streaming service drops the hurdle that otherwise existed on subscription models to start using it at all. Even if the costs look high at first glance, you can only get a lot cheaper in your mobile life if you drive an old small car and consistently avoid taxis, buses and trains. 

Your own car costs including loss of value, insurance, Fuel and Co. a German holder a few hundred euros a month. Whim is therefore primarily an offer for those who want to do without their own car and still want to travel a lot. 

Even this simple early form of MaaS facilitates individual mobility and could possibly improve the complete traffic situation if enough customers change from the car to a public transport mix, especially the growing metropolises of the world are hoping for a significant reduction of congestion and air pollution. But the new form of mobility is only fully developing its revolutionary potential through the autonomous car. 

Car service providers such as Uber, Lyft and Co. are not investigating the robot mobiles, which do not require expensive and possibly unreliable drivers.

In addition to the occasionally autonomous private customers, the automakers also focus on the driverless transport systems of the future. Who offers the market dominant standard driving service in the future, is still open. The only thing that is clear is: If you are early, you have the best chance of being late.

Not least because of this, the automakers have recently secured more shares in traffic start-ups and established their own mobility services because of this, the automakers have recently secured more shares in traffic start-ups and established their own mobility services, the automakers have recently secured more shares in traffic start-ups and established their own mobility services. Or build like Volkswagen(“MOIA”) has its own brand for the future. 

The race for the best grid positions in the Maas race has already started. The most important force in creating the necessary legal, technical and economic infrastructure is the “MaaS Alliance” in Brussels, a highly-placed body of representatives of politics and business, whose main task is to ensure sufficient economies of scale.

If possible, the new services should be raised on a large scale – not like Whim, regionally or nationally limited. In addition to passenger transport and adjacent services, completely new business areas are planned, such as the transport of goods: from the delivery for supermarkets to the pizza delivery service. This should ensure better capacity utilization and additional sales. 

The promise to the future users: everything becomes easier and cheaper, the private car disappears from the cities and makes room for a better quality of life. Numerous studies predict indeed gigantic advantages, count for a city like Munich For example, with a reduction in the number of cars by 200,000 units. 

Almost three million square meters of parking space could be dismantled in the metropolises of the world, 23 billion dollars in congestion costs would alone Los Angeles save, experts say. And the clientele should also benefit, above all through a massive reduction in mobility costs.

Around 16 cents per kilometer, for example, would cost the trip in an autonomous car, predicts the consulting Berylls. That would be less than half the price of driving in a compact private car. And barely a tenth of the usual taxi costs. In addition to the many possible benefits but also threaten problems. 

For example, MaaS services could set false incentives, for example when comfortable car-sharing or shuttle services increase motorized private traffic, because pedestrians and cyclists suddenly prefer to be chauffeured. 

This would not only fill the streets even more, but could also permanently damage public transport. And whether the private transport services remain favorable in the long run, when public competition has disappeared, would also have to show. In general, the operators of Maas services will want to see money.

It is still not clear who should pay – the users or the whole society? But the biggest obstacle for MaaS is probably the western culture. Especially the countries in North America and Europe are car companies. It remains to be seen whether the theoretical comfort and cost advantages will convince sufficiently many sworn motorists to rely on shared mobility.

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