Shared Mobility 2020: Stocktaking and Outlook

by Max Kubisch and Benjamin Regorz, February 7, 2020

With the introduction of rentable e-scooters, the mobility environment and cityscape of many German conurbations has changed. Tens of thousands of these entertaining mobiles already complement the urban mobility offer and it can be assumed that there will be significantly more in the coming years. Or not? We take a closer look at how different areas of shared mobility have changed by using Hamburg as an example to show that in a dynamic market environment there is not only a “forward”.

Supply in large cities is growing

Starting in March 2019, the globally operating car rental company SIXT has been offering decentrally parked vehicles for short-term rental in Hamburg. Under the name SIXT share and with an innovative pricing system, the company intends to take market share from the more established providers Car2Go, DriveNow, MILES and Oply. These suppliers react in very different ways: Oply is significantly expanding its business area and is now also available in less central districts. Car2Go and DriveNow form a joint venture and have bundled their activities as the largest car sharing provider under the brand name ShareNow since November. VW announces that it will offer 1,000 new electric cars in Hamburg from 2020 with the WeShare service. A total of over 20,000 vehicles are currently available for car sharing in Germany, of which around 3,000 are in Hamburg.

Bike Sharing Markt is competitive

Those who prefer to travel on two wheels instead of four can choose between a bicycle or different types of e-scooters. Bike sharing is the most established form and has been booming for years. Hamburg’s market leader StadtRad, a cooperation between the Hanseatic City and Deutsche Bahn Connect, is further expanding its position with 31 new to a total of 253 rental stations. Due to its strong market position, there are only a few other providers in Hamburg, and so the big bike sharing competitors such as Byke, mobike or nextbike primarily try their hand in other cities, sometimes without stations as so-called free floating.

This station independent approach is also pursued by the e-scooter providers circ, Lime, TIER and voi, all of which started in June 2019 and who offer more than 30,000 scooters for decentralised rental in Germany alone. E-scooters have been on the market a little longer, but in September 2019 the operator emmy had to temporarily discontinue its Hamburg offer due to battery problems.

E-scooter focus

The benefits of e-scooters are not only controversially discussed in the media: On the one hand, providers claim that they “want to revolutionise urban transport” (Lime) and help to “finally initiate the overdue traffic turnaround” (TIER). On the other hand, complaints about congested foot-paths and cycle paths or reckless scooter drivers are increasing, and critical reports on battery life have been published.

A first survey by the opinion research institute yougov also shows that e-scooters are used primarily for pleasure and less for traffic or environmental reasons. But it is also certain that the introduction of e-scooters and the resulting attention has made many people more aware of how they want to organise their own mobility. Other studies from abroad as well as by Nunatak for Germany show that e-scooters can play an important role in a sustainable mobility mix for relevant target groups.

The hype and the big excitement are probably already over. In the coming months and years we will see what contribution e-scooters can really make to the traffic turnaround.

On Demand Services become more important

In addition to the rental business, On Demand Services are particularly growing. The most prominent representative in Hamburg since July 2019 has been the VW subsidiary MOIA, which started out with 200 electric minibuses and currently operates a fleet of around 300 vehicles. The planned further increase to 500 MOIA vehicles is one of the reasons why the DB subsidiary CleverShuttle also withdrew from the Hamburg market. The same decision was also taken by CleverShuttle in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, although there due to problems with the Passenger Transportation Act. The provider ioki, however, cooperates closely with the local public transport authority (Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein) and, with its British taxi vehicles, is aiming to expand its business in certain parts of the city.

Additionally there are related services such as Ridehailing and Ridematching. Here FreeNow, the successor app to myTaxi, dominates the German market and offers possibilities to save money by using shared taxi rides. The mobility offer is supplemented by the mediation of so-called rides, which involve appointed drivers with a car and passenger transport licence. The model is similar to that of Uber, who, after a licensing process lasting years, have also been offering their services in Hamburg since July 2019.

Data-supported shared mobility planning

At the same time, the city of Hamburg – together with Wunder Mobility – has established the first data platform for sharing offers. With the help of the platform, the data of the mobility providers is aggregated and visualised. The aim is to use the analysed data as a basis for transparent evaluations of future developments and planning of offers and infrastructure.

In response to this development and its future, customers and operators in particular are asking questions such as:

  • Will shared mobility offers become more established, so that we no longer own our own vehicles in the future, but share them all with our fellow citizens?
  • Are the current sharing business models really economically and ecologically sustainable (see e.g. current press releases on MOIA)?
  • How will the classic public transport services offered by companies and associations develop?
  • What kind of cooperation between private mobility providers, public transport and local authorities is appropriate?
  • To what extent will cities and municipalities have a voice in the regulation, management and planning of new shared mobility offers?
  • How will the law on passenger transport change and what does this mean for current and future offers?

The aim must be to manage the new mobility offers intelligently and to link or integrate them sensibly with conventional public transport services. We are looking forward to further assist our customers in dealing with these exciting questions.

04. April 2020