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20.07.2020 | 6 minutes

The city of 2030: Are you ready for the future of mobility?

The year 2030 marks the turning point for sustainable mobility in the largest cities in the world. How will people’s behaviour in terms of mobility develop over the next ten years?

Autonomous driving, the sharing economy and electrification: Many people associate these concepts with the urban mobility of the future. Analyses conducted by various market research companies studying the different scenarios show that 2030 will mark a turning point in mobility: Environmentally friendly transport will be the norm in the world’s largest cities by then. The studies are based on the Transforming Cities index. This index assesses how strongly people’s behavior in cities in terms of mobility changes over a period of ten years. But what will determine urban mobility in the future?

The Kantar market research institute published its “Mobility Futures” study on the topic of urban mobility in ten years at the beginning of 2020. The study included surveys of residents’ experiences regarding mobility in 31 major cities such as Berlin and New York. The results also included the expertise of 53 mobility experts. These studies, as others, make clear: A transformation in mobility with greater sustainability is on its way.

Sustainable mobility in the major cities of the world

Info graphic: Comparison of transport use of 2020 and 2030

The majority of people will have switched to an environmentally friendly mode of transportation such as train or bicycle by 2030. According to the Mobility Futures study, these modes of transportation will grow by four percent. Initially, this gain appears small. But if you look at the overall context, it is by no means inconsequential: Sustainable mobility will account for almost half of all trips (nearly 49 percent). By comparison, car use is forecast to drop by five percent, gradually decreasing thereafter. Other modes of transportation, such as ferries, will account for the remaining percentages.

It is a slow but steady change towards sustainable mobility. When it comes to the necessary prerequisites and adjustments, this change can only take place gradually. The implementation of sustainable urban space and transportation planning is a complex task. It consists of the integration of development planning, coherent traffic concepts, and effective mobility management that includes all means of transport.

Greatest utilization: public transportation

According to the Kantar study, utilization of public transportation will increase by 18 percent by 2030. Billions will be invested in the next few years in new development and upgrades in order to attain this level. And another aspect is changing: Busses and trains will travel without drivers. Autonomous vehicles will take people from A to B in the future.

In ten years time, trains will also connect continents and change global trade. They will be modular and consist of individual cars that have batteries and their own electric actuator. In this manner, it will be possible to decouple freight trains as well as passenger trains fully automatically on the outskirts of cities. Individual cars will then travel autonomously to junctions such as a railroad station or, if handling goods, to distribution centers. Charging will be inductive: The energy is transferred via electromagnets along the rails.

More and more bicycles and pedestrians

Public transportation as well as an increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic will shape the image of many major cities in 2030. More and more people will consciously opt for a combination of different modes of transportation. An increase of 18 percent is predicted for bicycles, as well as 15 percent for pedestrians. A prerequisite for this increase: the intensive expansion of public transportation and of bicycle lanes and sidewalks/footpaths in the coming years.

Carsharing: Sharing becomes more important than owning

The motto for 2030 is “sharing instead of owning.” Carsharing concepts that enable people to ride together are becoming increasingly relevant in major cities and are replacing trips that people would have normally driven in their own car. The latter will decrease by about ten percent in the future.

A further factor that will lead to a drop in private car travel is the advent of autonomous, purely electric vehicles. One in ten cars in 2030 will probably be autonomous – most of them as robot-driven cabs. In order for this to happen, the framework will need to be created in the coming years, which includes above all a networked infrastructure for transportation and high-quality mobile network coverage. After all, these are the cornerstones of a smart city in which people can move about sustainably and efficiently.

Even companies will be rethinking by 2030: Company vehicles and fleets will be purely electric in the future. In addition, there will be more carsharing services.

Info graphic: Weighting of transport means in metropolitan areas 2020 and 2030

Electrification of the transportation sector

The charging infrastructure must be set up and integrated into the power supply system in order to increase vehicle electrification. It is a challenge that cities, grid operators, and car manufacturers face together. After all, the better matched the charging infrastructure, the faster electrification and autonomization can take place. Automated, electric driving is only possible if the necessary road and charging infrastructure is available and can be used efficiently, ideally with all mobility providers being linked together, in addition to technology and networking.

Electrification permeates all areas of transportation, from electric bikes to electric cars, and even electric trains. The desired level of vehicle electrification will therefore also lead to a high additional demand for electricity in the future, which will have to be met by increased energy capacities. Vattenfall is doing everything in its power to ensure that these energies will be renewable and carbon-neutral. This is because electrification and electromobility solutions are key factors in reducing CO2 emissions.

Berlin receives a good report card

The Kantar study shows that cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, and New York are ready for a more sustainable mobility in the future. The experts give Berlin a good rating in terms of infrastructure, technology, digitalization, and legal framework. But people are lacking trust in the implementation of it. The opposite is the case in Moscow and Mumbai, as illustrated by the following diagram:

City comparison infographic: Technology competence versus public confidence

Nearly 40 percent of people worldwide are open to innovative, new (electro)mobility solutions currently. And it is an upward trend. The willingness of cities to engage in sustainable mobility transformation is also on the rise. One thing is for certain: The future will be driving electrically.


Kantar “Mobility Futures,” BMVI, [in German]


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