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Micromobility and megacities: the trends of the future

18.3.2019
Micromobility and megacities: the trends of the future

More and more people choose small electric vehicles for short day-to-day journeys. Here is how this kind of mobility is evolving.

Micromobility and last-mile travel are two of the most cutting-edge concepts as far as mobility in urban areas is concerned. Both relate to the kinds of (electric) vehicles used to cover short distances, on the order of a couple of kilometres , for example after covering  most of the daily commute by car, by train or by bus, or by other types of public transport. These include hoverboards, electric scooters, Segways, and even vehicles halfway between an e-bike and a skateboard, for instance the Cityskater developed by Volkswagen. On some vehicles you can stand, while on others you can sit, but what they all have in common is their great ease of use: this makes them the perfect tools to tame the urban jungle.

Commuting solutions

The smallest of these devices often fold, too , so they can be easily carried on public transport or in the boot of a commuter’s car. In terms of charging their batteries, on the other hand, most of the time it is possible to detach them in order to plug them in at home or in the office.

Micromobility is, indeed, inextricably linked to commuting, that is toall those people who make the same journey day after day to get to their place of work. According to a study of the consultancy company McKinsey, 60% of car trips worldwide are less than 8 km – the kind of distance for which micromobility solutions are perfect.

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Megacities

It is estimated that in Italy there are around 50,000 vehicles of this type, but it is difficult to obtain precise data, as they do not require numberplates or other kinds of registration data. What is certain, on the other hand, is that the number of these vehicles will increase in the years to come, because interest in these kinds of vehicles is increasing, as well as their widespread  use. Each week, 1.3 million people around the world move into cities, and by 2030 the number of megacities worldwide – urban areas with more than 10 million inhabitants- will be about 43, which is 12 more than there are today. In 2040 then, about 65% of the world will be concentrated in these  big cities. All of these people have, or will have, mobility needs that will require intelligent solutions. The Volkswagen Group has already developed some solutions ready to hit the market.

SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen

In addition to the Cityskater and the Streetmate – both developed by Volkswagen – a few months ago, SEAT unveiled its eXS KickScooter, an electric scooter with a range of 45 km. The Spanish brand has taken a further step forward with the Minimó, an extremely compact (2.5x1.24 m) two-seater electric concept car with interchangeable batteries (battery swap system), which is perfect both for private use and for car-sharing services.

ŠKODA, on the other hand, has focused its efforts on an original e-bike named KLEMENT, which reports a range of 62 km and a top speed of 45 km/h. Its 4 kW motor has the flair to make rides brisk without compromising on maximum safety. Tilting the pedal forwards and backwards slightly controls the acceleration and braking.

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Changing rules

In terms of speed, and road regulations in general, the Italian Highway Code is rather restrictive on this type of vehicles, which do not fit into a single category and so is hard to pinpoint from a legislative point of view.

In late 2018, the Italian Chamber of Debuties approved an amendment for “Experimentation in cities of road circulation of primarily electric-powered personal mobility vehicles, such as Segway, hoverboards and scooters”. This measure provides for the raising of the maximum attainable speed from 6 to 25 km/h, the circulation  of these vehicles on all city roads except major highways and free access to public transport, as long as the vehicles can reduce to the size of standard hand luggage.