Sustainable mobility: a growing market

Sustainable mobility: a growing market
What is sustainable mobility?


Sustainable mobility is transportation which is environmentally and socially sustainable. Generally sustainable and smart mobility are now conflated, with both usually requiring some form of technological innovation and to create greater eco or social sustainability. Cities across the world are implementing sustainable mobility strategies in order to reduce the negative effects of urbanisation, such as increased traffic congestion and emissions. [1] One of the benefits that sustainable mobility often brings is increased digitalisation of transportation networks, allowing for improved traffic management and more efficient use of road capacity, which reduces pollution and increases road safety (directly, in terms of road accidents, and indirectly, in terms of pollution-related health problems). [2]


The numbers


Sustainable mobility is forecasted to grow with a CAGR of 20.2% from 2020 to 2027, growing from $34.04 billion in 2019 to an expected value of $70.46 billion in 2027. In 2019, the largest market segment was traffic management, responsible for over 25% of the market value. It is expected to remain the largest, if not necessarily the fastest growing segment, with parking management being predicted to register a CAGR of 21.9% during this period. By geographical area, North America contributed the highest market share (over 33% in 2019),but Asia-Pacific market is expected to grow with a higher CAGR (22.2%) between 2020 and 2027. [3]


What is driving the sustainable mobility market?


At a government level, the sustainable mobility market is being supported in its growth. Globally, governments and companies are driving sustainable mobility initiatives in order to support their environmental targets. In the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, it announced its aim to have nearly all road vehicles be zero emission by 2050, and it plans to install 1,000 hydrogen (fuel) stations and 1 million public vehicle charging points by 2025, with another 2 million more installed by 2030. [4] Another important goal is to create zero-emission airports and ports. Cities across Europe, therefore, are writing regulations to encourage the use of sustainable transport (such as car sharing and bicycle use) to meet these goals, which is certain to boost the sustainable mobility market.


Outside Europe similar changes are occurring, for example through initiatives to discourage private vehicle usage in Asia-Pacific countries and an investment in digitalising transport and removing or replacing out-of-date or inefficient transportation infrastructure in New York.  [5] [1]



Individual companies are also driving the move towards smart mobility, with BMW announcing that it will reduce CO2 emissions by 200 million tonnes by 2030 and MSIP (Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc – a joint venture between Michelin, Scottish Enterprise and Dundee City Council) has selected eleven international sustainable mobility startups for a new accelerator programme. [6] [7] In Italy, algoWatt S.p.A., a listed greentech company, is collaborating with GeTUP to support a research project on urban sustainable mobility and MaaS (mobility as a service) which is worth around €2 million. [8]


Sustainable mobility is also likely to benefit from growth in other technology industries, with collaboration between sectors, such as AI, 5G, and data management softwares, promoting mutual growth. [2]


What challenges does it face?


The sustainable mobility market does face challenges, however. In response to the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy the European Biogas Association said that such an emphasis in the strategy on electrical and hydrogen powered vehicles allowed for less focus on biofuels, which will have negative effects in the future (when there will likely be a greater demand for them, but not the investment over time needed to meet this future need). They also declared that the plans supported modes of transport and technology that are too expensive for many people, which would result in mobility access issues and social inequality. [9]  However, further legislation initiatives or incentives may help to alleviate cost issues for the individual consumer.


Continuing on the theme of costs, the ERF (European Union Road Federation) warns that seemingly cheap solutions may stand in the way of sustainable transport solutions, which will have a lower cost (when maintained properly) in the longer term, but have seemingly high upfront costs. [2]


The COVID-19 pandemic has also not left the sustainable mobility sector unaffected. Overall, the sustainable mobility market declined during the pandemic with transportation services being drastically reduced and governments having to delay mobility schemes and investments. [3] On the other hand, many governments are focusing more on eco-sustainability in their plans to reboot their economies post-pandemic, which could boost the market in the coming years.


Whilst many areas of the globe are investing in sustainable and smart mobility, the market does reveal geographical inequalities. In developing countries where there is less internet usage, implementing many forms of smart transportation (such as vehicle sharing) is much more difficult, and so in some areas the sustainable mobility market lags far behind others, and the overall market trend.  [3]


Digitalisation of transport is not just a challenge in developing countries. The reliance on online softwares for many sustainable solutions poses a security threat, for example from data hacking, which must be guarded against (another cost) when implementing such solutions.  [3]


The ride-sharing segment


Ride-sharing has become something of a hot topic in sustainable mobility due to its increasing popularity. Urbanisation, bringing more congestion, and increasing costs of car ownership (including fuel costs, taxes and maintenance costs) is encouraging people to abandon traditional car ownership and to favour car sharing and micro-mobility solutions (bikes, electric scooters etc). Furthermore, emissions-reducing initiatives, such as congestion charges, adds to the mounting costs of vehicle ownership. Ride-sharing, particularly of micro-mobility vehicles, drastically reduces congestion and consumer costs, and as more and more people use the internet (over 80% of people in developed countries and 40% in developing countries), such solutions are increasingly accessible.


The ride sharing market is therefore predicted to grow with a CAGR of 19.87% from 2018 to 2025, reaching a market value of $218 billion from $61.3 billion. The only major difficulty that this market segment seems to be facing is protesting from traditional transport systems (such as taxi companies’ backlash to app-based ride-hailing companies) and legislative difficulties in some countries for ride-sharing companies that do not own the vehicles they use. [10]


What next?


With new innovation in sustainable solutions and technology, sustainable mobility is set to develop and it is likely that associated business models will change with it, such as different transportation services being integrated in individual businesses and traditional vehicle ownership and leasing being revolutionised. [5]

[1] Article: ‘New York Smart City Report 2021: Smart and Connected Solutions Drive Urban Initiatives and Strategies to Enable Fair and Sustainable Mobility Solutions –’

Source: Business Wire


[2] Article: ‘EU offers vision of mobility’

Source: ItsInternational


[3] Article: ‘Smart Mobility Market to Garner $70.46 Billion by 2027: Allied Market Research’

Source: Globe Newswire


[4] Article: ‘European Commission calls for conversion to zero-emission vehicles by 2050’

Source: Freight Waves


[5] Article: ‘Global Smart Cities Market Report 2020: Cities with a Well-structured Digital Strategy will be Able to Channel the Power of Smart, Sustainable, and Autonomous Mobility Solutions’

Source: PR Newswire


[6] Article: ‘BMW: at least 50 percent of global sales from fully-electric models by 2030’

Source: Battery Industry


[7] Article: ‘Second cohort of start-ups selected for low carbon accelerator programme’

Source: Insider


[8] Article: ‘algoWatt will coordinate the GeTUP project for sustainable mobility as-a-service in urban areas’

Source: Globe Newswire


[9] Article: ‘EU transport strategy sparks mixed industry reactions’

Source: Argus Media


[10] Article: ‘Ride Sharing Market by Type (E-hailing, Station-Based, Car Sharing & Rental), Car Sharing (P2P, Corporate), Service (Navigation, Payment, Information), Micro-Mobility (Bicycle, Scooter), Vehicle Type, and Region – Global Forecast to 2026’

Source: Markets and Markets