News > Foldable scooters, e-skateboards, shared vehicles: the future of mobility

Foldable scooters, e-skateboards, shared vehicles: the future of mobility

AFP
 - 08/02/2018

In addition to a plethora of futuristic vehicles, the Las Vegas CES, Consumer Electronics Show, is also rich in alternative solutions from connected electric bikes to foldable scooters, confiming the trend which is relegating the trusty old combustion engine to the rank of antique.

As the world’s population becomes more urbanised, owning a vehicle is increasingly becoming synonymous with pollution, traffic jams and sky-high costs, opening the door to wide range of innovative alternative solutions.

“In many major cities, the car is no longer a viable option,” underlines expert Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates.

Las Vegas, whose show is billed as the global stage for innovation, is a case in point and its legendary Strip, lined in gigantic hotel-casinos, is invariably paralysed with traffic from morning to night.

This case explains the widespread interest in alternative solutions to the car, such as the electric bike showcased by the startup GenZe, a subsidiary of the giant Indian manufacturer, Mahindra.

“The automobile industry is extremely worried by the idea that the world’s populations may be moving away from the concept of car ownership,” indicated its spokesperson, Tom Valasek, who himself started off in the car industry, adding that many representatives from the industry had been to pay a visit to GenZe’s stand.

 

Autonomous cars

Reservation platforms of chauffeur-driven cars, like Uber or its American rival, Lyft, have been surfing on this wave and many technology giants are investing massively in autonomous vehicles in a bid to ultimately provide online reservation platforms of driverless cars. 

“We believe that owning a car will soon be a thing of the past,” mentioned the boss of Lyft, John Zimmer, present at the CES.

The gradual decline in individual car ownership should also change the face of cities and enable them them to devote less energy and money to traffic and parking issues.

This tendency is visible in the alacrity with which some of the world’s major traffic-congested cities, like Paris, have so quickly adopted self-service bike rental services.

GenZe has moreover announced that connected electric bikes will be added to GoBike, Ford’s bikeshare programme, currently operating in San Francisco, Western California, in April.

“These bikes are expected to make San Francisco more pleasant to live in by reducing traffic jams,” reported an official from the city’s public transport network.

A hundred or so GenZe bikes are currently used by Facebook employees to get around Silicon Valley, to the south of San Francisco, which is also frequently paralysed by traffic.

 

Foldable electric scooters

Another attractive mobility solution are the electric skateboards showcased at CES by Swagtron.

“In terms of individual mobility, some people prefer to skate, while others will opt for a scooter or bike,” explained Andrew Koven, an executive of the American firm.

According to him, alternatives to the car have become a “vital necessity” that illustrate a “systemic swing” towards more economical and ecological means of transport.

The Luxemburg company, Ujet, showcased a foldable electric scooter at the CES.

“If I don’t live that far from work, do I really a need a car to get there?” asks analyst Jack Gold.

Some ecologically-minded cities are also looking into driverless electric shuttles.

The car manufacturer Toyota, for its part, unveiled a prototype of a cubic minibus that could function either as an autonomous taxi, run delivery services or even operate as a mobile medical surgery or small shop.

 

Photos :
© Mandel Gnan / AFP
© Glenn CHAPMAN / AFP