Navigant Research Blog

Multi-modal Apps of the Future Pay Customers to Reduce Congestion

— April 15, 2016

CarsharingPreviously independent modes of transportation such as walking, bicycling, train, bus, taxi, ridesharing services, and personal vehicle usage are becoming increasingly integrated. Multi-modal programs that allow city residents to plan trips using a variety of transport options is one of the major trends in the evolution of the smart city mobility market. Application services such as CarFreeAtoZ and TripGo allow users to plan a trip with up to five mobility options and combinations (train, bus, car, bicycling, and bike-share). Other services such as the GoLA app (powered by Xerox) integrate planning options to include carsharing (Zipcar) and ridesharing (Lyft) services.

Multi-modal apps allow customers to choose the most efficient routes possible to save on commute times. Most apps also include information on the carbon emissions of the trip combinations and options, allowing users to make more informed decisions about how their trip may affect the environment.

New Apps with Big Potential

A prototype transportation app called NextCity looks to not only help users plan their commutes, but also help them get discounts on transportation options that help to reduce vehicle congestion. Users will be offered incentives to change their transportation route based on traffic conditions. For example, the app might offer a discount on the ferry or train if there is construction or an accident on a typical driving route.

NextCity is unlike some of the startups in this space that lack the infrastructure connections and financial backings to make a significant impact. The app is a project of San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a subsidiary of Cubic Corporation. CTS is a leading integrator of transportation payment and information solutions and already powers major payment systems such as London’s Oyster card, Chicago’s Ventra card, and San Francisco’s Clipper card. The baseline of public transportation data available to CTS, combined with the current operation of public transit payment systems, enables the company to not only help with route planning, but also integrate and adapt payment systems. The company’s goal is to develop the NextCity app as quickly as possible to create a single-account system covering payment for all modes of transportation (including bikes and bike-share, ridesharing, tolling, parking, etc.).

While many route planning apps are helpful to users and are increasing in adoption, adding a financial incentive to users is expected to significantly increase participation among city commuters. It’s one thing to be informed of alternative transportation options—it’s something else entirely to be paid to use them.


Electric Scooter Sharing Programs Improving Mobility in Major Cities

— February 24, 2016

e-bike, settingThe iconic city of Paris, France will be implementing an electric scooter (e-scooter) sharing program in an effort to reduce the heavy traffic congestion and air pollution plaguing the city. Slated to begin in the summer of 2016, the rental program will consist of around 1,000 e-scooters from the German manufacturer GOVECS and will be managed by EV rental firm Cityscoot. The e-scooters have a top speed of 28 mph and an electric range of 65 miles. An interesting feature on the Cityscoot scooters is a keyless ignition; subscribers receive a text message with a code on their smartphone that unlocks the e-scooter.

Cities Looking For Alternatives

Paris is hoping that offering alternatives to personal vehicle use will result in fewer incidents similar to last summer, in which driving bans had to be instituted and pollution levels in the city of lights briefly surpassed those of Shanghai. Many other city governments in Europe are also looking for ways to improve mobility in their cities, as Barcelona, Spain was the first to introduce an e-scooter sharing program back in 2013. Should the Paris project prove successful, London, England is expected to be the next target for Cityscoot.

The trend is not limited to Europe, however. Slowly but surely e-scooters are becoming more popular in highly populated U.S. cities. Scoot Networks is a smartphone-activated e-scooter sharing company located in San Francisco, California. The company has been expanding its supply quickly due to high demand and now has close to 400 e-scooters for use in the Bay Area at over 35 locations. Each scooter has an electric range of 25 miles and a top speed of 30 mph.

According to Navigant Research, the global market for e-scooters is expected to grow from about 4.1 million annual unit sales to just under 4.5 million by 2024. If e-scooter sharing programs can prove to be successful in early adopter cities such as Barcelona, Paris, and San Francisco, other major cities are likely to follow suit and the market could grow more quickly than expected.

E-Scooter Sales by Region, China and Rest of World: 2015-2024

Ryan Scooter Blog

 (Source: Navigant Research)


Panasonic-Denver Partnership Highlights Cultural Considerations in Smart City Projects

— February 22, 2016

Bangkok SkylineIn January 2016, Japan-based Panasonic and the city of Denver, Colorado announced a partnership to transform the mountain municipality into a smart city, with a focus on improvements to transportation, energy efficiency, water conservation, and public safety, among other services. The focus project of the public-private partnership is the creation of a greenfield community southwest of the Denver International Airport called Peña Station NEXT.

Using Panasonic’s CityNOW approach, the new community in Denver is being modeled on the successful development of the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town in Japan. Fujisawa is 31 miles west of Tokyo and as has a comprehensive smart city implementation across multiple applications, including smart street lights and  rooftop solar panels that power homes during the day while fuel cells and batteries are utilized at night. The community is also in walking distance to public transportation, and electric cars and bicycles are widely available for rent.

This is a significant example of how companies like Panasonic are trying to take best practices from smart city projects in Japan to North America and other markets. Other Japanese giants have also been working with North American and European cities on a range of pilots and demonstrator programs, but the Panasonic-Denver collaboration is one of the most significant commercial projects to date.

Cultural Challenges

However, the translation of experiences in Japan to the United States raises some interesting challenges. According to the Denver Post, Denver’s smart city initiatives will have several different applications compared to what took place in Fujisawa, primarily in order to account for cultural and social differences between the two countries. Camera monitors with facial recognition spike much higher privacy concerns in the United States compared to Japan; as a result, the Denver project is expected to be much less intrusive. Instead of shared cars and bicycles, the Peña Station NEXT community is likely to use shuttles with parking garages and parking lots to accommodate some personal vehicle usage. In addition, far-reaching liability concerns in the United States mean that automated street lights are also unlikely, with dimming ability being a more realistic approach. While many of the same essential technologies that were tested in Fujisawa (i.e., cameras, smart street lights) are being applied in Denver, precisely how they are going to be used is being augmented for cultural considerations.

Through the partnership with Panasonic, Denver looks to improve its greenhouse gas emissions per capita, as the city’s sprawling infrastructure all too often encourages driving as the primary means of transportation. According to a 2011 World Bank report, Denver ranks far below other more densely populated cities with 23.7 tons of CO2 emissions per person. It’s a high figure, especially when compared to other locations like New York City (8.7), San Francisco (10.1), and Boston (13.3). The American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Denver County has some of the highest rates in the country of commuters driving to work from surrounding counties.

While there are several common themes that go into making a city smart (such as digital technology, sustainability, mobility, and financing), how these factors are implemented changes drastically by jurisdiction. Initiatives that helped Japanese cities become smarter are likely to have relevance in other countries such as the United States, but some differences in implementation are needed for project success.


Electric Mobility Devices Make a Splash at CES

— January 26, 2016

Car driving fastThe International CES, the global consumer electronics show held every January in Las Vegas, exhibits the latest technologies and trends in the electronics industry. This year, electric mobility devices formed one of the major trend lines of the conference, as cities are increasingly looking for new ways to reduce traffic congestion while consumers are simultaneously considering innovative options for cutting down on their commute times.

At CES, Oregon-based Arcimoto introduced its new all-electric 3-wheeled motorcycle, with a top speed of 80 mph and up to a 130-mile range. Currently, 3-wheeled vehicles are often used to reduce air pollution and congestion in cities while hauling cargo for deliveries. Rapidly evolving 3D printing technology is now being combined with electric motorcycle manufacturing, as Energica demonstrated with its debut of a 3D-printed e-motorcycle called the Ego. The streetbike has tremendous acceleration, able to go from 0 to 100 km/h (or 0 to 60 mph) in less than 3 seconds. The Ego’s top speed is 150 mph, and an 80% battery charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes. Electric bicycles (E-bikes) were trending at CES, and exciting new advances in hover boards, electric roller-skates, and electric skateboards were also on display.

Perhaps most notably, e-scooter company Gogoro unveiled its home-charging solution for customers who wish to forgo the company’s citywide battery swapping networks and charge their batteries at home. This product fills what perhaps was the last remaining hole for Gogoro, which now looks primed to expand its battery swapping network from Taipei to large European cities, beginning with Amsterdam in mid-2016. The company’s Go Charger holds two batteries and plugs into a 110V outlet. Two versions of the charger will be offered, with one version charging the batteries in 2.5 hours and the other taking 5 hours for a full recharge.

Cheapest, Quickest Way to Adopt Electric Transport

All signs are pointing toward the electric mobility device industry continuing to expand in 2016, as these vehicles are often significantly more affordable than full-sized electric vehicles. In fact, sales of e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles are each expected to individually outpace the sales of electric cars this year, in some cases by a wide margin.

Electric Vehicle Global Sales Estimations: 2016

Ryan Blog Table

(Source: Navigant Research)


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