Navigant Research Blog

E-Mobility Enters the Hype Cycle

John Gartner — June 5, 2013

If you aren’t already familiar with the term e-mobility, you soon will be.  E-mobility is defined as using electric vehicles (EVs) as part of a holistic transportation system that includes personal vehicles, mass transit, bikes, and (dare we say it?) walking to get around cities.  Auto companies believe that with their limited driving range, EVs are better positioned as part of such a system rather than a complete transportation solution.  Broadening transportation options for consumers will increase their comfort level with purchasing a car that needs to be recharged every 100 miles or so.

Faced with the prospect of a static or even declining car market in some countries (which you can hear about in our upcoming webinar on peak cars), automotive companies have embraced the concept and are developing new services, along with in-car and mobile applications, that enable people to easily connect with all of their mobility options.  Many carmakers now employ people with titles like “Director of E-Mobility.”

Resistance Is Futile

Count Peugeot among the many automakers that are launching e-mobility projects to better understand consumer driving behavior and the capabilities of their new EV models.  Carolin Reichert, Peugeot’s Head of Mobility, talked about her company’s e-mobility strategy during an appearance at the eCarTec Conference during April in Paris.  The company launched an EV car-share service in Berlin in March 2013 featuring 350 Citroen C-Zero EVs.  Peugeot, Reichert said, believes that integrating car-share fees with public transit billing and providing easy access to information about bike rentals and train schedules are essential for encouraging the adoption of EVs.  Reichert said the company is working with application developers to preload the applications onto the vehicles to avoid consumers having to download apps after a purchase.  Peugeot is also developing a carpool service for employees to share rides to work in an EV .

Embracing rather than fighting against car sharing and e-mobility, automakers are making a significant shift in philosophy as they look to ride the wave rather than resist the tide of changing consumer attitudes toward driving.  Attracting younger drivers who may be less eager to purchase a car – by incorporating social network themes and providing mobile apps – will help develop brand awareness and prime these young consumers for buying a car later in life, perhaps when they have children or move to the suburbs.

E-mobility has been promoted most heavily so far in Europe, but it is spreading globally and in the media, with more than 9,000 articles on the topic in Google News.  And it’s not just automakers who are hyping e-mobility.  Along for the ride are IT vendors and software companies such as IBM and SAP and hardware vendors such as Siemens and Bosch, as well as groups such as Hubject and Green eMotion.  E-mobility represents a permanent shift, not a fad.

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