The Reason for Micromobility

by Luke Wroblewski January 31, 2019

At the Micromobility conference in Richmond, CA Horace Dediu talked through why micromobility solutions need to exist and why they are set up to succeed today. Here’s my notes from his talk on The Reason for Micromobility:

  • The wealthiest nations have always been those with the highest rates of urbanization. Across the World, urbanization continues to increase in all countries and is expected to reach 50% in most countries by 2025. 6.7 billion people will live in cities by 2050. This is easy to predict so you can plan on it happening.
  • In cities, people are closer together and interact more. That’s how you create wealth and prosperity so it’s no wonder this trend will grow.
  • The World today consumes kilometers through land, air, and sea kilometers. 52 trillion kilometers are traveled per year across the globe. Half of these miles are in cars and low efficiency. In developed countries today (US and Europe), most trips are in personal vehicles like cars. Some of these car miles need to be reallocated.
  • The most common distance traveled by New York taxis is 1.4 miles. Less than 2% are 5 miles or more. 90% of all cars in trips are less than 20 miles. 162 billion trips per year in the United States are less than ten miles. Short trips consume more time and cost more money than long trips as well.
  • The addressable market for micromobility today is zero to five miles. That adds up to 4 trillion kilometers per year.
  • Cities are going to be the predominant place people live. Short trips are going to be the dominant type of travel. They’ll consume the most time and account for the most consumer spending.
  • There’s a remarkable consistency for modes of travel across the World. Cars are used the same in the US as in the UK and Switzerland. Scooters have a shorter average distance (.4 miles) than e-bikes (.8 miles). Each mode (of transportation) has a clear distance distribution and thereby unique characteristics.
  • We can begin to segment the transportation market by distance traveled. Regardless of vendors, modes of transportation cluster along similar usage models.
  • Given these usage model differences, can we move automobile mobility to micromobility? There’s currently a gap between average car distances and average scooter/bike distances. However we see cabs and powerful 2-wheelers beginning to cross this chasm.
  • There’s trillions of car kilometers that can potentially be moved to more efficient solutions. That’s the challenge for micromobility today.
  • The first experiments in micromobilty have been very successful in delivering many miles. Bird hit 10M rides in 320 days since launch. Lime hit 10M in 400 days. The slope of growth for these companies is steeper than for Uber and Lyft. 100M rides per year is the run rate for several of these companies.