Panelists cited many mobility challenges as well as big opportunities (Photo: Arjen Bongard)

BERLIN -- Automotive, car-sharing and technology experts shared an urban new-mobility vision here that highlighted the possibilities and challenges for cities looking for cleaner and smarter traffic solutions.

"We're seeing an explosion of mobility," said Richard Harris, an intelligent transport expert who is a supervisory board member of Ertico, the European organization that researches and promotes new forms of transportation.

The market for shared mobility is still "very young," added Rui Avelas, head of sales and marketing for Mobiag, which has built a platform that connects a multitude of fleets. "The huge growth is still to come and the numbers will look very different in a few years."

Harris and Avelas were just two of the speakers at this week's City Car Summit, a forum where stakeholders discuss how to bring about a new urban mobility ecosystem.

Experts agreed that car sharing, ride-sharing and other new modes of transportation made possible by connected cars need to be looked at together. People no longer use just one or two kinds of transportation to get from A to B, said Michael Lange, head of sales & marketing at car-sharing technology specialist Invers. "Two modes are being replaced by a much more complex use models," he added.

Lange and others stressed that the technology underpinning new mobility needs to work flawlessly to attract people to new forms of urban travel. Lange cited four critical factors for shared mobility: The need to offer on-demand access, a very fast process to start driving, 100 pc reliability and a system that allows pay-per use.

Harris said people also need to be well-informed about the different transportation options available to them. If people aren't aware of alternatives, they will resort to a tried and tested form of transportation, he said.

The transportation expert also said politics often prevents necessary initiatives to kickstart new mobility. Charging schemes, for example, are unpopular and thus seldom proposed by political leaders, he noted.

Edwin Colella, sales and marketing boss for telematics specialist Omoove, said shared mobility requires the accurate assessment of customer needs and developing the necessary technology to meet demand. "The challenge is to couple the technology with the needs in the simplest way possible," he said.

-By Arjen Bongard