Original publication: November 2015
Authors: Weert Canzler, Andreas Knie
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2HpcNKQ
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This study was published in the reference document “The World is Changing. Transport, Too”, Part II.

The World is Changing. Transport Too.

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The world and the transport sector are changing.

The (more and more urban) European population is growing and ageing which affect mobility needs and patterns. The rapidly developing mobile information and communication technologies give rise to new transport services/systems. Transport technologies are also evolving because the sector is pressed to run in a more ‘environmental-efficient’ way and is increasingly subject to global competition.

All these societal (e.g. sharing economy), technological (e.g. unmanned vehicles) and economic changes (e.g. E-commerce) have an impact on transport as a whole, whether it is long distance (e.g. multi-modal travel planning and integrated ticketing), urban (e.g. ‘Transportation Network Companies’) or freight transport (e.g. upheaval in logistics and delivery services).

This overview addresses this evolving context and the related challenges.

Part I, which is principally related to the major urban areas of the west of the continent, is about the new trends in transport demand and related impact on transport systems and patterns generated by changes in demography, mobile technologies and the internet.

Part II relates to changes in technologies to meet emerging urban mobility patterns. It shows that transport is undergoing massive digitisation. Furthermore it advocates alternative drive technologies and electric vehicles as the key technologies for a decarbonisation of the sector.

Part III provides an in-depth analysis of the role of regulation in preparing transport for the future. It notably underlines the regulatory implications of the current challenges affecting different transport modes and the mobility system as a whole.

PART II: Changes in Technologies to meet Emerging Urban Mobility Patterns

Key Findings
  • Decarbonisation of transport requires technical and societal innovations aimed at greater efficiency and comprehensive electrification of the transport system.
  • Demographic changes and urbanisation are the primary drivers of innovation, in addition to the need to move away from carbon-based fuels.
  • Alternative drive technologies and new transport services are joining the market. Incumbents are therefore facing increased competition from new players.
  • Electric mobility is a “double basic innovation,” sweeping both the transport and electric power sectors while being driven by digitisation.
  • People’s behavioural patterns regarding travel are also changing. Digital platforms make it easier for them to use various means of transportation and share both cars and rides for individual trips.
  • The political levers to promote mobility without fossil fuels are ambitious CO2 limits, internalisation of external costs of transport, and implementation of the costs-by-cause-principle.
Problems and solutions

Transport leads to urban congestion and pollution and contributes to climate change. In addition, improvements in greenhouse gas emissions are stagnating since gains in engine efficiencies are being eroded by more and heavier vehicles.

Ideally, passenger and freight transport should require no fossil fuels at all which can be possible with a more efficient and largely electric transport sector. This requires many things: new drives and fuel types, innovations from both society and the transport industry, and a new regulatory framework. Currently, the EU is seeing a growth of renewable energy sources and a decentralisation of electricity network management. The steep rise of renewables in electricity production is revealing promising options and making a post-fossil fuel energy supply viable. New vehicle technologies like fuel cells and battery-powered drives are sufficiently developed in principle, but most of all, digital networks technologies are widespread and affordable. Information and communication technologies (ICT) provide services and information in real time. Digital technologies allow for networking and new approaches in transport, providing means to optimise and/or reduce mobility needs thereby saving energy.

Technological trends and drivers of transport transition

In addition to both these technological developments and to demographic and urbanisation trends, digitisation is also a driving factor in transport innovations. With immense efforts in research and development, car makers have successfully arrived at the connected car which can partially drive itself. At the same time, new drive and vehicle technology concepts are being developed. Three different electrical drive options are key: the battery-electric drive, the hydrogen fuel cell technology, and various hybrid types. Furthermore, new transport services are constantly emerging due to the widespread use of smartphones and intelligent application developments. Therefore, all the elements needed for the transition beyond fossil fuels are available today. Besides, the digitisation and the expansion of renewable energies offer unprecedented opportunities for cross-sector base innovation: the renewable sector will benefit from a new intelligent organisation of transport that will aid network stability and will smooth out unpredictable residual loads. Electric cars can be linked in smart grids, especially if operated by professional fleet managers. Electric vehicles could then help to better match the production and consumption of fluctuating renewable energies, becoming an additional storage and buffer option in smart grids.

Intermodal services and changing political parameters

The transformation of transport goes beyond new car drive systems and fuel types. In practice, transport will become increasingly multimodal, resulting in one useful service instead of a collection of distinct modal options. Increasingly, this modal coordination is spreading in Europe’s capitals and major cities. Citizens are making ever more pragmatic transport choices, such as riding bicycles and using public transport instead of using cars. Meanwhile, sharing services offer several means of traveling at low cost, such as car or ride sharing. Thus, ICT firms are the newest players in the transportation sector.

The best strategies for the success of post-fossil fuel mobility include (1) ambitious limits on CO2 emissions, (2) mandatory pricing for traffic and parking areas with exceptions for shared zero-emission vehicles, and (3) experiments with decentralised networks in field
tests under realistic conditions.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/563-424

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