How will our modes of transport change? And to what extent will we use them? To answer these questions, a team led by Dr. Irene Feige from the Institute for Mobility Research in Munich is developing comprehensive scenarios.
Hello Ms. Feige. What are the tasks of the Institute for Mobility Research?
We wish to provide answers to fundamental questions on the mobility of tomorrow in order to help ensure long-term, sustainable mobility. For this purpose, we collaborate intensively with well-known scientists worldwide.
The Institute for Mobility Research is part of the BMW Group. Nevertheless, you are extensively occupied not only with automobiles and motorcycles, but with all kind of mobility, whether on water, on land or in the air.
There is no such thing as the one and only kind of mobility. We must see and develop the coherences. Furthermore, mobility changes, just like the working world and lifestyles change - to a certain extent drastically.
But one constant still seems to exist: We will continue to travel a lot.
Yes, our statistics verify this. With eighty to ninety minutes, daily travel time has remained relatively stable worldwide for around 100 years. And this probably won’t change significantly in the future.
Yet business travel could diminish, as people are increasingly working in home offices.
That is indeed correct. But this will be compensated for by an increase in leisure time mobility. However, what will change is the distance people travel during this time. And the number of possibilities, which mode of transport they choose and, above all, how and when they combine them.
Is there a key issue that will characterise the mobility of tomorrow?
The desire and possibility to travel flexibly and individually will remain a central issue in the future as well. A good example of possible changes in this area is public transport: Why, for instance, should a bus travel the same route all day when utilisation times are different? With autonomously driven fleets of small buses and robot taxis it will become possible to create “live“ routes and to collect people and convey them to a destination at a time when it best suits them. However, in regions with high traffic density the number of persons who simply walk or travel by bicycle or scooter will increase significantly. Cities in Northern Europe, but also New York, have assumed a pioneering role in this respect. Today, in Denmark, for example, two thirds of all journeys are already made by bicycle
Are there also offers of mobility, the significance of which will not change?
This applies, for example, to rail transport: Underground, suburban and intercity trains are very efficient forms of transport. But the automobile is and will remain the main means of getting around.
… But roads are often congested, at least in regions with high traffic density.
It will be possible in future to avoid many traffic jams through the improved coordination between vehicles via electronic control systems. Moreover, the use of the enhanced possibilities and benefits of car sharing will steadily increase. Furthermore, the additional burden caused by vehicles from logistic and supply companies, for instance, will decrease significantly. If these drivers use quiet electric vehicles in future, they will be able to carry out most of their work at night. Similarly, this also applies to services such as waste collection. Their work is becoming increasingly automated, so most of the time, they could also operate overnight.
How significant are these scenarios for the further development of companies such as the BMW Group?
It will remain important not only to work on vehicles of the future, but also on improving the efficiency of mobility in general. A good example of this is the intensive cooperation with municipalities to develop infrastructure solutions, something the BMW Group has already done anyway for some years now.