Bottom Line: Urban mobility’s many challenges are getting worse because automakers, mobility services providers, and state & local governments aren’t cooperating at a systemic level to solve them when data and AI hold the insights they need to reinvent themselves. 

Evangelos Simoudis’ latest book Transportation Transformation: How Autonomous Mobility Will Fuel New Value Chains, meticulously presents the case for redefining mobility value chains globally. Based on years of research into how mobility value chains need to adapt for the future and how essential data and AI to enabling a mobility renaissance. Evangelos writes, “If on-demand mobility services and vehicle automation are the key ingredients to next-generation mobility, then data and AI are the glue that holds it together because they enable new transportation-related capabilities and novel business models (pg. 191)”.  

Why Mobility Needs A Data And AI-Driven Renaissance

Taking on the challenge of illustrating why automotive OEM, mobility services, state & local governments need to share data and take a more collaborative approach to reinvent themselves anchors the book’s framework. Instead of explaining to readers why current approaches to urban mobility are broken, he chooses to provide a wealth of research supporting the need for a mobility renaissance starting at the value chain level. From there, the book provides useful insights and a fascinating glimpse into how a person’s daily experiences using a mobility service would be vastly different – and much more productive and contextually intelligent than today. Evangelos strives for precision in explaining how a person’s experiences would change from getting to work to catching a transcontinental flight. 

Further supporting how data and AI are integral to redefining mobility are recent developments in the transportation industry. In November 2020, GM announced they would begin aggregating and analyzing on-vehicle data to gain a greater competitive advantage in insurance. Discussions between Hyundai and Apple and discussions with some AV companies and FCA suggest movements towards a future where automakers become contract manufacturers to high tech companies, a point Evangelos makes in chapter 3. Lyft’s partnership with Motional will mean that an OEM (Hyundai) combined with an AV Stack provider (Aptiv/Nutonomy) and a mobility services provider creates a new, network-like value chain. Aptiv is a major Tier 1 supplier that purchased nuTonomy (a startup). It’s a combination of players from four distinct places in the value chain coming together, which is referenced in chapter 5. Cities like Paris are starting to actively discuss how to supplement their public transportation systems with on-demand mobility services to deal with service cutbacks that became necessary due to the pandemic, a key point of chapter 6. GM’s CES announcements earlier this month about the importance of monetizing data are discussed in chapter 7, with GM and Mercedes creating new ways to monetize the driver and the passenger experience, another key point made in chapter 8.

For mobility to achieve the renaissance it’s capable of, the barriers holding back real-time data also need to come down, creating a much greater fluidity of insights. Inferring from Evangelos’ narratives on how essential real-time data sharing is to create greater trust and adoption of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and related urban mobility services underscores why collaboration – not competition – between automotive OEMs, mobility services providers, and state & local governments is key. Evangelos writes, “next-generation mobility will be the result of transformations of automotive OEMs, mobility services companies, and cities; furthermore, its success will have to rely on the collaboration of these three constituencies. Moreover, companies from industries such as insurance, financial services, utilities, and telecommunications must also adapt.” (pg. 40) Evangelos further points out that companies from key industries must adapt to a more collaborative approach to participate in new mobility.

The following graphic from the book explains that so-called value chains will no longer be the linear and hierarchical structures they are today, but, as the included figure shows, they will be more network-like. The more detailed figures of the book make this point more explicitly.

Conclusion

I found Evangelos’ latest book a fascinating read and recommend Transportation Transformation: How Autonomous Mobility Will Fuel New Value Chains to anyone interested in the future of mobility in general and urban mobility in particular. The book shows how the value chains supporting urban mobility from the last century are broken and need to be redesigned using real-time data and AI-driven insights. Operating on the long-held incorrect assumption that urban mobility problems can be fixed by spending more government dollars on mass transit alone or encouraging entrepreneurs to create more ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles is myopic and misses the point. What’s needed is a framework that helps the world’s most congested urban centers confront one of their greatest challenges with data and AI-based insights, not increased taxes and prodigious government spending. Evangelos’ book delivers an invaluable framework and insights for helping to create a mobility renaissance.

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