Vehicle makers seek business models to contend with the future of transportation

Jan. 16, 2017

Organizers of the Future of Transportation World Conference, scheduled for July 5-6 in Cologne, Germany, have issued a final call for announced a preliminary lineup of speakers to who will address topics such as the future of vehicle ownership and business models for manufacturers.

The organizers suggest manufacturers will have to contend with probable reductions in vehicle ownership and develop new ways of selling vehicles to a different ownership profile. They add that winners “…will see their role as personal transport providers with total customer solutions and Internet of Things strategies.”

Christopher Mims seems to concur with this view in a column in The Wall Street Journal. He foresees a “Cambrian Explosion of new vehicles” that will enable “the shift from vehicle ownership to transportation as a service.” He notes that an electric drivetrain—unlike an internal-combustion drivetrain—is scalable from 17-lb. scooters to 20-ton buses.

Mims describes vehicles such as the Swagtron Swagger electric scooter and the three-wheeled Arcimoto SRK, and he notes that Proterra sold more than 200 electric buses to U.S. cities in 2016. He attributes the success of electric vehicles in part to falling costs of carbon-fiber composites and better batteries, adding that in 2015 cars became the biggest consumer of lithium-ion batteries by dollar value.

“As the convenience and safety of electric, autonomous ride-hailing services appeals increasingly to the masses, the nature of network optimization means it will probably make sense for the Ubers and Lyfts of the world to cater to our needs with everything from a one-seater to a party barge,” Mims writes. “It may also mean you’ll use your garage for something other than a car.”

If you would like to present your opinions and theories on this topic in Cologne this summer, the Future of Transportation World Conference organizers invite you to submit a title and a 100- to 150-word abstract by January 23.  Click here for more.

This post has been updated since the Future of Transportation World Conference call-for-speakers deadline has passed. Speakers announced so far include Diogo Castilho, military officer and test pilot, MIT; Klaus Rosino, head of innovation department, Austrian Road Safety Board; Dominik Hilboll, head of European product consulting, J.D. Power and Associates; Mark Thomas, vice president of marketing, RideCell; Josef Czako, CEO, Moving Forward Consulting; and Matthew Cockerill, creative director, Seymourpowell.

To register for the event, click here.

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