What is going to the automotive of tomorrow appear to be? That depends upon the way forward for the cities
This article was written by Alexander Gmelin on The Urban Mobility Daily, the content site of Urban Mobility Company, a Paris-based company that drives the mobility business through physical and virtual events and services. Join their community of 10,000+ global mobility professionals by signing up for the Urban Mobility Weekly newsletter. Read the original article Here and follow them on Linkedin and Twitter.
Shared mobility is one of the great hopes for sustainable transport. Privately owned vehicles are notoriously wasteful and mostly sit idle. Advances in digital technology and the rise of the smartphone have opened up the potential to vastly improve asset use, bring profit to savvy businesses, and provide cheaper, more convenient mobility for consumers. Alexander Gmelin, CPO of Invers, explains how the German company is laying the foundation for a joint mobility platform.
Automated car sharing
Our company history says that the founder Uwe Latsch, now CTO, founded the company to visit his girlfriend’s parents in the country. He used his bike to get around town and couldn’t figure out the logic of buying a car just for one trip or another in the country. As one of the pioneers of car sharing, Uwe devoted himself to developing the technology for automating the shared use of vehicles.
The endless pursuit of improving reliability and scalability
In the early days of car sharing, the biggest challenge was organizing the handover of the vehicle. We have developed an automated solution to avoid manual key handover. It contained an RFID reader behind the windshield and a telematics unit installed inside and connected to the vehicle electronics. With the advent of smartphones and the advancement of cellular networks, vehicle sharing has become much more convenient and accessible. In addition, these technologies enabled a multitude of new business models and accelerated the dynamism of this industry. The fleets got bigger and bigger. More and more modes and vehicle types were added, from cars to bikes and mopeds to scooters. The complexity increased. At the same time, not only has demand increased, but also user expectations of the service: Today, an extremely reliable on-demand service is a must – just as customers are used to other offers like Netflix or Amazon. To meet this growing demand, operators need a highly reliable technical infrastructure that manages the complexity of a mixed, distributed fleet while maintaining flexibility.
Simplicity in the midst of complexity
Our vision is to make the use of shared vehicles more attractive and affordable than owning vehicles worldwide. Technology plays an important role for operators to differentiate and be successful. As the shared mobility market is on the rise, it is also becoming more complex as fleets of distributed vehicles of different types and manufacturers grow. At Invers we love technical challenges and our goal is to make the complexity manageable while maintaining flexibility so that our customers and partners can be creative. This is especially important for the developers. We have always focused on their needs and provided them with a highly reliable technical infrastructure and perfectly integrated, modular building blocks on which they can build. These consist of hardware, firmware and software – competencies that we all have in-house and that are well coordinated in order to exploit their full potential. Our goal is to ensure that developers do not have to worry about the complexity of the various vehicles, telematics, connectivity and interfaces, but can concentrate fully on what sets their business and service apart. As a result, we recently increased the focus of our product developments even further. This includes:
- Provision of vehicle-independent telematics: CloudBoxx offers quick and easy installation, which is guided by our setup and test app
- Development and hosting of a central access point for all vehicles, also for mixed fleets: OneAPI enables seamless integration of all telematics, including OEM vehicles connected ex works
- offers powerful and scalable fleet management software: FleetControl as an interface for managing the entire fleet
- Provision of building blocks for booking software: Operators can either develop their own or choose a white label booking software from our 15+ integration partners
- Advice from our technology and market experts
Customers are free to focus on user experience and functionality
A shared mobility service is primarily a digital business. For the operator, there is an important differentiation potential in the user experience and the operational processes. The user app and the tools for fleet operation play an essential role. This is where most operators build their unique services that make the difference based on their market knowledge and understanding of customer needs. This is where your creativity must lie. With our solutions, we take care of the reliable technical infrastructure, so that the developers of our customers and partners can fully concentrate on developing these excellent and competitive services.
Co-opetition to build a sustainable urban mobility industry
For me, competition in the mobility industry is similar to that in sport. It lives from competition as well as from cooperation, hence the term “cooperation”. I’ve been in the car sharing sector for a while now and I’m starting my career at Car2Go, now Share Now. I’ve always felt that despite the business perspective there is a great spirit in this industry. So many of us are committed to the same values and goals to get people out of their private cars and into more sustainable and rewarding modes of transport like shared vehicles.
As an engineering-oriented company, we want to cross borders together with our customers and partners and promote the development of technologies and solutions. That gets us out of bed every morning.
This is our common goal: to improve urban mobility and ultimately life in our cities while using resources efficiently.
The future of shared and multimodal mobility
Here in Cologne, where one of our offices is located, the city recently started to convert more and more car lanes into bike paths. I love it when I cycle to work. This trend can be seen across Europe and even in some American cities where the tide is turning more and more from car ownership to sharing. We passed the top car.
However, the growth of shared micromobility has been interrupted by Covid-19. However, I have no doubt that with an even wider variety of vehicle types and modes, as well as multimodal MaaS solutions, it will come back stronger. I am convinced that we will soon see new and exciting services in this area again. With our technology and our products, we feel well prepared to continue growing with our customers. Despite all the challenges of 2020, we at Invers are happy to be “part of this journey” and we are excited to see what great ideas are just around the corner in this fast-moving industry.
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Published on December 17, 2020 – 16:00 UTC