‘Saving time is the luxury of new mobility’

At the mobility tech company Wunder Mobility, she is in charge of a special analysis tool for cities and at Hypermotion she'll be talking about alternative urban mobility: an interview with Ioana Freise

Ioana Freise
Expert Ioana Freise will speak at the Hypermotion Lab about “Alternative mobility in the city” (Photo: Wunder Mobility)

Wunder Mobility offers the whole spectrum of new mobility services from a single source. Its portfolio comprises software, hardware and services for smart shuttles, fleet management, ride sharing and carpooling. How can cities, car manufacturers, software providers and operators be brought together to jointly create sustainable mobility?

Whether cities, service providers or manufacturers, all sides are increasingly recognising that they are pursuing similar goals in this day and age. They are all on the lookout for solutions for easily accessible and sustainable mobility because requirements, especially those of digital natives, are changing rapidly. There is a growing recognition that nobody can meet these challenges on their own and that the mobility of the future is a joint project. This is exactly why offers such as Wunder City want to provide a platform to help.

How can cities shape the mobility revolution without becoming the plaything of individual service providers? How can they establish themselves as a platform?

Cities are in a very strong position because they hold all the cards when it comes to design. This applies to both regulation and also dialogue and discussion between the public and private sectors. For those responsible, it is first important to understand what influence the new offers and services will have on people's mobility in concrete terms. This can be gleaned from complex data derived from different sources. Cities therefore need partners who can process these data and prepare them in a clear way so that decision-makers who do not have the requisite high-tech expertise can quickly understand the results and draw conclusions from them.

The launch of the e-scooter has sparked heated discussions in German cities in recent times. What role will very small electric vehicles play in the future – and will new mobility offers cause less or more traffic?

With every new technology, there is always a period of adaptation at the beginning. And wherever change occurs, there will also be critics. However, new mobility services are not the cause of traffic, but a reaction to traffic that is not functioning properly. The question misses the point of the problem. What we really should be asking is: how can new forms of mobility help people to rethink and prepare for a future with less private transport in cities that are continuing to grow?

Wunder Mobility is now active in over 50 cities on five continents. How do the requirements differ from continent to continent and city to city and what do they have in common?

We see the same challenges on all continents in which our customers are active. Cities are struggling with congested roads, traffic jams and air pollution, whether it's Manila, Mumbai or Los Angeles. However, cultural differences do also play a role, e.g. in relation to private car ownership. In the USA, people from all socio-economic backgrounds own a car. This made it an obvious place for providers such as Uber or Lyft to start their business. But even in Germany, owning your “own car” is so deeply rooted in the culture that it will take some time before people are prepared to do without a car completely. But we're already on the right track. In cities such as Berlin or Hamburg, you can already see that younger people in particular are increasingly unwilling to own a car.

In the Philippines, for example, the situation is quite different. On the one hand, far fewer people own a car there, but on the other hand there are usually major problems in the transport infrastructure, particularly when it comes to public transport. The willingness to drive in an “unfamiliar” car is therefore fundamentally higher there. The differences are often also reflected in the cityscape itself. In Europe and especially in the USA, the roads have grown with the cars. In emerging countries, the situation is usually different. That's why in India, for example, two-wheelers play a much more important role than cars. People there are more interested in motorbikes or mopeds. We are thus currently seeing a boom in the sharing market for such vehicles. As a provider, you have to adapt to all these differences and find suitable solutions.

A question for you as a private user: what do you associate with the term “new mobility” and which aspect of digitally driven traffic in large cities appeals most to you personally? And what does the term hypermotion mean to you?

My mobility behaviour adapts to the situation and environment. In principle, I want to decide my form of transport in as flexible and spontaneous a way as possible. I do have a driving licence, but I don’t own my own car and given what a big city like Hamburg has to offer, I don't see any reason to change that. Much more important to me than owning a vehicle is the freedom to choose which means of transport I need at a particular moment in time. Added to this is the time I gain when I don't have to drive from A to B myself, but am a passenger in well-networked mobility services, either with another person or, in the future, in autonomous vehicles. That is, if you will, the luxury of the new mobility.

The market is becoming more and more diverse and changing at an ever increasing pace. We used to have car manufacturers, local public transport and railways. Today, we have a different situation: public utility companies, for example, are now putting their own offers on the road, while there are also numerous ride sharing providers on the market and of course a lot of start-ups. This means that there are many players involved in driving forward the way our mobility is shaped. And we're just at the beginning: people are always on the move and therefore always looking for new forms of transportation. New mobility thus means bringing technology and people together to find solutions for individual needs. When we succeed in doing this, we create “hypermotion”.