The future of mobility: saying goodbye to the car as we know it

T he farewell to the car as we know it is coming. christian rauch is firmly convinced of this. And he also knows the answer to the key question of how and with what our grandchildren will get around: "more diverse, networked, post-fossil and shared."

Rauch is considered to be the expert who knows best what the distant automotive future will look like. since the founding of the frankfurt-based "international society for future and trend consulting" two decades ago, he and the think tank have been working on future scenarios. The topic of mobility is particularly close to the sociologist’s heart.

In his view, the classic car with an internal combustion engine that sits in the garage is a discontinued model. "in the future, people will buy access to, not ownership of, mobility products," says rauch. The plethora of car-sharing providers and platform operators such as uber, the google subsidiary waymo or the announcement of autonomously driving cabs by tesla are examples of future mobility offerings.

A car full of solar cells

Whether the all-electric car or a hydrogen-powered fuel cell will prevail by 2030 or 2040 has not yet been decided, says rauch. "the race is not over yet."However, he sees a greater affinity for hydrogen drive among many German carmakers – because of the longer value chain that will then be involved.

Which new ideas are currently the most realistic for tomorrow’s automobility is made clear in the denkfabrik’s "future products" study. For example, the israeli start-up city transformer is developing a small two-seater e-car that folds up at the touch of a button and is then only one meter wide. Another example is the german company sono motors, which is working on the e-family car model sion.

Its batteries are to be charged by the sun’s rays even while the car is on the move. Whether on the roof, the hood, on the sides – solar cells are installed everywhere. Moss is installed in the dashboard and in the center console to filter the air, and it does not need to be fertilized, watered or cut. Series production to start next year.

Rauch assumes that in the long term "there will tend to be fewer cars on German roads". New forms of shared mobility, i.e. the sharing of means of transport with each other, would take care of that. One of the big building blocks is car sharing. "one car-sharing vehicle could replace about seven privately registered cars," rauch calculates. The mobility of the future would also include new services offered by so-called microcarriers, such as electric scooters, autonomous small shuttle vehicles or e-bicycles.

One thing is for sure: the now overriding importance of the car will in any case diminish. According to mobility prophet rauch, this would be one offer among several solutions. Rauch refers to the emerging political pressure in Germany to push cars out of city centers, to restrict street parking and to expand cycle paths. "car use will decline and so will registrations," predicts rauch. "in ten to 15 years, one in ten passenger cars could be eliminated."

However, there will be greater regional differences. in the countryside, the car retains its greater importance even today. in 2040, the number of cars per capita will still be higher there than in the cities.The sociologist expects a change in automotive values. He refers, for example, to the ongoing debate about abandoning flying for environmental reasons. The movement originated in scandinavian countries, and has also coined the term "flugscham. "there could develop SUV shame, as an aversion to big, fat cars," says rauch. On the other hand, the number of small e-vehicles is likely to increase significantly.

Two years ago, in a study for the German automobile association ADAC, futurologists pointed out that the boundaries between public and private transport will disappear in the future. "in cities and urban regions, the car will lose its sole dominant position," it says.

Fast cars will still be around in the future

"use instead of own" is becoming the new motto. In the future, cars will be less about status and more about smart, intelligent mobility. "why shouldn’t there be a mobility flat rate for all forms of transportation in the future, just like a bahn-card 100 for all trains today??" asks rauch.

The futurologist expects an "evolution of mobility," to which other major megatrends will also contribute, such as the change in working life ("new work"). "mobile, connected work will be an integral part of everyday life," says the study for ADAC. However, with considerable consequences: "transportation, but also train stations, airports, hotels, and coworking spaces will become an integral part of our working and living environment."In the future, it will not only be a matter of traveling reliably, safely and comfortably, but also of being able to work in a meaningful way at the same time.

A German specialty that has often been discussed for abolition may not yet be buried by rauch. He does not believe that the maximum speed in the car of the future will be heavily restricted. Although volvo recently announced that, from 2020, no new vehicle will be able to drive faster than 180 km/h, it will still be able to do so in the future. Researcher rauch, on the other hand, assumes that the tempo discussion "will be revisited with autonomously driving cars". His argument: "an autonomous car traveling at 200 km/h is safer than an individual driver."

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