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Europe on the move

Current mobility trends and an outlook on the future

We are currently living through a dramatic transformation of the mobility industry. Driven by a series of technological advancements and social trends, mobility solutions are constantly changing to create a connected transportation system that is more effective.

In August 2019, a survey conducted by Alphabet International, a global provider of Business Mobility, and Puls Marktforschung, surveyed 2100 drivers across five representative European markets – namely Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK – about their mobility choices and expectations for the future of mobility. Interviewees were asked about which forms of mobility they rated as the most important in the coming five to ten years, from carsharing, to electric solutions, autonomous vehicles and beyond.

Alphabet is a future-solution oriented provider of Business Mobility. With a growing portfolio of fleet vehicles on the road and products such as AlphaCity, the Corporare CarSharing solution and AlphaElectric, the holistic approach to eMobility, Alphabet has mature and well-developed mobility solutions. With a keen interest in the public perception across its many markets, this survey aims to identify what the current and future mobility trends and respective customer needs are.

Individual and shared mobility behaviour

In a fast-paced world of ridesharing and where micromobility options, such as e-scooters, seem to be around every corner of most major cities – with notable exceptions, such as the UK, where these are still banned on public roads and pavements – classic forms of mobility are still by far the most used.

The private car still holds first place
A new survey on the individual and shared mobility habits of motorists across Europe shows that car ownership is still a top priority for drivers, with 78% using their own vehicle. In Italy (85%) and Germany (81%), the private car ranks with the highest importance in regards to current mobility usage.

This is also reflected in the habits and views of motorists toward shared mobility and leasing. More than half of respondents (56%) listed a strong need to own their vehicle, with France (65%) and Germany (62%) ranking above average.

Public transport the most valuable additional mobility form
In addition to the car, however, 81% of drivers use additional forms of mobility in their day-to-day life. Motorists in Germany and Spain most frequently use additional forms of mobility and in all markets, public transport was rated as the most important additional form of mobility, with Spanish drivers (73%) using public transportation the most frequently.

Furthermore, the younger the interviewees, the more likely they are to make use of the public transport ticket provided by an employer, at 31% in comparison to drivers aged 36 and up (14%). This is perhaps unsurprising, considering that younger groups typically earn less and possibly may not be able to afford private vehicle. However, it also lends itself well to the argument that younger generations are willing to explore flexible solutions and move towards shared mobility, instead of strictly prioritising individual mobility.

Drivers who use their own vehicle
Drivers who use additional forms of mobility
Drivers who use shared mobility

 

Interestingly, among the modes of transport that drivers use the most in addition to the car, taxis currently rank third in overall importance (32%), even though these are voted amongst the least important forms of mobility of the future (7%).

On-demand solutions in an urban context
Urban cities are the ideal playground to test out new forms of mobility. But for the average driver, can these alternative modes of transport really entice them to ditch the personal car? Shared mobility encompasses everything from ridesharing to micromobility, bike rentals to carsharing, taxis and UBER.

Predictably, those who live in rural areas make the least use of on-demand solutions as they are simply not as readily available outside of major cities. However, even amongst those who live in cities, new on-demand solutions are not as popular as expected.

Offers such as ridehailing (e.g. UBER) and carsharing (e.g. ShareNow) are not as popular among drivers as perhaps expected. Carsharing ranked among the least prevalent additional mobility form, with only 5% of drivers overall using this service. At 7%, Italians were within the higher end of the bracket, whereas only 2% of British drivers use carsharing options.

When looking more closely at respondents based on age groups, there is a notable difference in opinions, with younger drivers being more open to shared mobility.

Rental bikes, for example, are significantly more popular with younger target groups. Of those aged 25 and under, 12% use rental bikes, whereas that number falls to 8% among those in the bracket 26 to 35 and that number drops even further with those between 36 to 50 (5%) and 51 and over (4%).

Ridesharing opportunities (e.g. Blablacar, Drive2Day) ranked relatively low across most markets, with the exception of France, where a significant 18% of drivers use these services. This mobility option is also significantly more popular amongst younger drivers. More than one in ten interviewees aged 35 and under (13%) use ridesharing services in comparison to only 5% of those over the age of 36.

Micromobility still in the early stages of adoption
E-scooters have certainly experienced a boom across urban cities worldwide, with the exception of the UK, but this mobility form is still very much in the early stages. Less than one out of ten drivers currently use e-scooters to bridge the last-mile gap.

Outlook for the future

What lies in store for the future? Self-driving shuttles are already being piloted in select cities, fully automated cars have got enthusiasts excited and sceptical about how streets will look like in future urban spaces and the prospect of drones bypassing congestion by taking passengers to the skies may soon become reality.

If you were to simply read the news, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we already live in this highly technologically advanced mobility landscape. But the reality is a little bit slower than headlines make it out to be, as there many aspects to consider. Safety is of course at the top of that list, alongside the change in infrastructure and legislation that needs to take place before self-driving cars take to the streets. But how does the average person view the future of mobility? Respondents were asked to pick which mobility forms they believe will rise in significance over the next five to ten years.

Drivers believe the future is electric
On the topic of future individual and shared mobility, almost one in two car users rate full-electric vehicles (47%) and hybrid cars (46%) with increasing relevance. At 51%, Brits rank above average by most strongly believing in full-electric vehicles.

German drivers are consistently optimistic about where we are heading over the next five to ten years, most strongly believing in the future relevance of all alternative mobility types, in comparison with other markets.

Public transport to gain the most significance
Where shared mobility is concerned, public short and long-distance transport is going to increasingly gain significance in the future at 39% and 26% respectively, according to interviewees.

Furthermore, every fourth respondent evaluates usage of a vehicle from a carsharing pool as a mobility form which is going to be increasingly relevant in the future, although only 5% of interviewees are currently using one.

Almost half of all drivers believe in the future of electric vehicles

 

Mobility needs vary strongly from market to market
The Spanish believe in the future significance of UBER with an above-average frequency (23%), the French in ridesharing opportunities (36%) and the Italians in both rental cars (16%) and passenger drones (12%).

Respondents unanimously ranked taxis as losing importance with an overall low score of only 7% of drivers who believe this mobility form will remain important, being replaced by other on-demand mobility options.

The mobility budget is still decidely unknown
With an equally low ranking, is the mobility budget from the employer, although this is likely due to users not fully understanding the concept. A mobility budget is a set amount that employees receive every month, to spend as they wish on whichever mobility forms are relevant to them – such as, for example, taking advantage of a carsharing pool one day, using public transport in urban settings and renting an e-bike on a sunny day.

To lease or not to lease

Although short-term rentals have risen in popularity, with widespread carsharing services becoming a standard element in the mobility mix of today, leasing still eludes people, primarily due to the fear of hidden costs (54%).

The need for flexible mobility could make leasing more attractive to younger drivers
The younger generation has a strong need for flexible mobility options and consequently have a higher general willingness to lease vehicles (40%), with German and Spanish drivers the most keen at 55%. Interestingly, in Italy, the willingness to lease is equally highest amongst the youngest and oldest respondents alike (44%).

However, younger target groups are also interested in shorter contract periods and have higher expectations towards the scope of services.

Germans and French the most well-informed about leasing
Only half of respondents (49%) are aware of the possibility of taking over the car after the expiration of the contract period and using leasing as a payment method. Germany ranks well above average, with two out of three respondents (66%) being familiar with this option.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Germany also boasts the highest number of private leasing customers from all interviewees. Drivers in Spain are the most willing to take out a private lease (43%), whereas those in France (22%) and the UK (26%) are the least willing to do so.

Every second French car user is familiar with long-term leasing and every second German motorist knows about private leasing. At 59%, finance leasing is most likely known in France. 

Personalisation of the leasing package is a key aspect for consumers
Overall, there was a relative consensus across countries concerning which services should definitely be included in a leasing contract, with “maintenance and repair” taking the number one spot at 78%.

In the UK and Germany, drivers are the most willing to pay for additional services, along with those 25 and under. German car drivers are willing to accept the longest contract period, as well as being more likely to accept a used car (64%), whereas their Spanish counterparts are exactly the opposite, opting for shorter contracts and with 54% of drivers insisting on a new vehicle.

Drivers look for these services in a leasing contract

Mobility in business

When it comes to mobility, what you do seems to have influence on what and how you drive. People from different industries all over Europe have given us insight on what type of car they drive, how common company cars are in their sector and what their mobility behaviour looks like in general. The industries represented in this study are IT, communications and tech; health and social; construction; consumer goods and grocery retail; public service; logistics; finance; automotive; tourism; and services in general like the electrical industry.

What types of cars do they drive?
Employees in the public service sector are, at 39%, most likely to travel by compact car. In the electrical industry this is true for only 21% of the people. Rather more of them (33%) drive middle class vehicles. Surprisingly, the majority of industries (7 out of 10) stated that they don’t drive an upper-class vehicle at all, including those in the automotive industry. In general, the priorities among the sectors are the same: small cars are the clear favourite, lower middle-class cars come in second and SUVs in third place.

How common are company cars in the industries?
29%
of employees in the automotive industry answered positively, that company cars for business purposes are an option in their sector. This is the highest rate among all industries questioned. 21% also confirmed that these cars can be used for business and private purposes alike. The financial sector, on the other hand, only offers a business vehicle to 12% of their employees. When considering employees in management roles, this rate is significantly higher, at 28%. In general, cars seem to be a notable incentive in the financial sector. Here, a noteworthy 11% state that cars are also offered for private use only. This is more than double than in all other industries.

27% of employees in the electrical industry are offered company cars for both business and private purposes. Overall, however, almost half of all interviewees said that company cars are not an option where they work.

Which mobility options are used the most on a regular basis?
As seen above, all industries technically offer company cars. But how many employees actually use this type of mobility? Between the options of using a private car, having a public transport ticket, driving a company car for business purposes only and having free access to said car, the health sector is the one with the most people who use option one (their own car) at 82%. At 20%, the public service sector has the highest rate of employees using public transport tickets.

For comparison: only 8% of the construction industry use buses, trains and such. The automotive industry, which is frontrunner in offering business-only cars to their staff has a rather surprisingly low rate of people who actually use this option, at only 3%. The vast majority of automotive workers use their own car (76%). Most of the employees who use a business fleet car work in the electrical industry (18%).

What types of mobility are also in use?
One industry that we haven’t seen as frontrunner in the categories listed previously are particularly prominent users of additional mobility forms. The IT, communications and tech sector has the highest rates in six of the twelve additional mobility options given. Public transport is the most common, with 70% using it, but these employees are also avid flyers, having taken the most long-distance flights over 1000 kilometres (39%). Furthermore, they are the most adventurous of all respondents, as they are the keenest to try out new mobility solutions such as UBER (24%), electric scooters (16%), rental bikes (14%) and carsharing (11%).

Taxis are most commonly used by people from the finance sector (46%) and long-distance public transport is most popular among the public service sector (46%). At an unusual 0%, not a single respondent from the automotive industry stated to have ridden a rental bike in the last year. They also have the highest rate (21%) of not having used any of the alternative mobility options and use public transport the least. Amongst all sectors, carsharing and ridesharing are the least popular mobility alternatives. Public transport and flights still rank the highest by far.

How do the industries see the future of mobility?
Looking at mobility in the upcoming five to ten years, respondents were asked to pick which modes of transport they deemed had the most promise. Among those surveyed, there was a general consensus across all industries about what will gain relevance.

At the lower end of the scale were taxis, which users perhaps see as too traditional to survive the competitive landscape of multiple companies that offer similar on-demand alternatives. Likewise, short-distance flights did not receive a vote of confidence, echoing the current sentiment for sustainable travel methods, which could be replaced by long-distance rail services, or similar. Alongside this, respondents were also wary of very advanced mobility forms such as passenger drones, which they perhaps see as too optimistic over the next decade.

On the other hand, respondents across all industries unanimously believe in the rise of electric vehicles, hybrid cars, local public transport and e-bikes. Interesting to note are the perceptions around autonomous / self-driving cars. One in four drivers believe that these will rise in significance, but two sectors lie well above average. Unsurprisingly, these are the IT sector (35%) and the automotive sector (34%), namely those working the hardest to make this technology readily available in a mainstream capacity.