- The competition for MaaS platforms heats up
In a conference last September, Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, stated that the company wants to become “the Amazon of transportation”. Translation: Uber plans to offer a seamless, ‘one-stop shop’ transportation experience to choose between cars, bikes and scooter rides. It certainly has what it takes: in besides its well-known ride-hailing service, it has partnered with Lime to offer electric scooters, acquired the bike ride-sharing startup Jump, and has plans to launch an air transportation service called Uber Elevate by 2023. However, this vast scope of services could be too tough to handle. The company is hardly the only one with a MaaS approach: Lyft has also expressed interest in doing so, as well as Google’s parent company Alphabet (owning Waze certainly doesn’t hurt). But while these tech giants figure out where to launch, Whim, a pioneer in what it calls an “all inclusive mobility service”, could have its moment in 2019, since its model is already quite successful in Helsinki.
2. E-scooters will prove they are not just ‘toys for grown-ups’
After taking California by storm in 2017, they appeared in cities all over the world last year. There are now an estimated 30 electric scooter startups operating in almost 150 markets worldwide. The two biggest that lead this micro mobility trend, Bird and Lime, have billion dollar valuations. Along with their competitors, they expect to increase the size and geography of their operations in other places in 2019. Despite continuously facing criticism, vandalism and raised safety concerns, the demise of the e-scooter in 2019 is unlikely. In fact, Google Maps has recently begun suggesting Lime scooters on its app, which is basically an approval stamp for these small vehicles as a means of transportation. But expect stricter rules for using them.
3. Electric alternatives for transportation become mainstream in America
It’s been a while since European countries have pushed towards reducing fossil fuel–based vehicles, but in 2019 we could see electric transportation leapfrogging in America. Just a few weeks after the wildfires that destroyed several towns statewide, California proved it is particularly eager to implement transportation solutions that do not require the use of gas. (After all, the severity of the wildfires was largely attributed to global warming.) It has planted an initiative for having all electric public transportation by 2040, a plan that is likely to gain traction nationwide now that a New Green Deal is being discussed. 2019 will definitely be more opportunities for electric alternatives, whether its mass transit, more dockless scooters or bicycles.
4. Hyperloops become a possibility for solving traffic congestions
Elon Musk tested the prototype for The Boring Company’s hyperloop in Los Angeles this past December –a tunnel that could “operate like a giant underground highway”, allowing vehicles to travel up to 150 miles per hour and considerably reduce travel time. Virgin Hyperloop One is also working on its version of this high speed transit system. If these first hyperloops keep having positive developments in 2019, a parallel industry of micro mobility alternatives (how to get from Point A to the hyperloop entrance, or how to make it work for pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit instead of just cars, as it currently does) could open up new opportunities for mobility enthusiasts.
5. Companies become increasingly under scrutiny for data privacy protection
On the same week that yet another Facebook data privacy scandal broke, Chinese company Mobike started being investigated in Germany because it may have violated GDPR, facing a fine that could add up to $22 million. With privacy scandals popping up every so frequently, it is fair to say that 2019 will bring a tighter surveillance for any company that aggregates or analyses data –and not only in Europe. There’s a conversation to push for a U.S. version of GDPR, and while it may not be fully developed by the end of next year, it will definitely force data-gathering companies to more careful about breaches or privacy violations (which, if we think about it, is a good thing).