Since the automobile was invented at the turn of the 20th century, technological advancement within the transportation and mobility industries proved to be comparatively slow until around 20 years ago.
The Information Age ushered in a new era of tech, data and scientific advancement the likes of which the world had never seen, and these exciting developments naturally influenced transportation: autonomous cars, artificial intelligence and the use of real-time data mapping, to name just a few, are new players in the world of mobility that are changing the field entirely.
As such, many governments, including that of the United Kingdom, have determined that these new mobility types must be included and even financially supported in their transportation plans for the future. In the UK’s case, this has resulted in the creation of what the national government is calling Future Mobility Zones.
To properly explain future mobility zones, we have to first talk about the publication titled The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, which was released by the British government a few months ago as part of a larger vision for the future. In this publication, the UK outlines what they consider to be the most crucial aspects of a successful future mobility strategy.
“We are on the cusp of an exciting and profound change in how people, goods and services move around the country.”
They mention nine main priorities, including ensuring all transport types are safe and accessible to everyone (and ensuring mass transit doesn’t get sidelined by private offerings), mobility data sharing when necessary and relevant, the transition to a zero-emissions system and an open marketplace in which mobility innovations receive ample funding (1).
The last point is very relevant to Future Mobility Zones, which are actual areas of Britain engaged in some sort of innovation (or promotion of innovation) that will have a positive effect on national mobility in the future. Various counties and cities are encouraged to engage in a bit of friendly competition to try and ‘win’ some of the £90M that the government has set aside for these zones. (2)
The West Midlands was announced as the UK’s first Future Mobility area in 2018, and four other zones are still to be selected - the shortlist includes Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and West of England. Funding goes specifically to zones developing new, innovative mobility technology, but also those that hope to “simply” increase the functionality of an existing system that needs revamping, such as payment processing for micromobility software.
The Minister for Transport, Jesse Norman, said that the Future Mobility Zones could “bring significant benefits to people right across the country and present enormous economic opportunities for the UK,” and added that “we are on the cusp of an exciting and profound change in how people, goods and services move around the country.” (3)
Indeed, there has hardly ever been a more exciting time for mobility in Britain. Change is in the air, and an unprecedented shift in attitudes has heavily impacted the national mindset on mobility. The greater Future Mobility Zones campaign is a reflection of how innovative mobility solutions have entered public discourse and are garnering the attention of the government to a higher degree than ever before.
This means that British citizens can look forward to a future in which issues like sustainable infrastructure are taken seriously. The results of the government’s efforts are already becoming tangible: as of August 15th, there are more EV charging stations than gas stations in Britain. (4) That’s a solid indicator of the direction the UK is taking.
Companies that offer shared or electric mobility types are in a particularly fortunate position.
For mobility companies and startups, this is a very exciting time. One of the main points highlighted in the Future of Mobility is the government’s interest in investing in new mobility types and innovations, and startups would do well to take advantage of that. Companies that offer shared or electric mobility types are in a particularly fortunate position, as are those who play a part in infrastructure building and maintenance, or renewable energy firms.
The stage is also being set for autonomous vehicles - the Center for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, or CCAV, has pledged £25M to develop self-driving vehicles in four pilot projects. (5) The future is very bright for Britain’s mobility industry, and it will be interesting to see how things will develop in the next ten years.
If you’re interested in getting your own mobility concept off the ground, Wunder Mobility has a dedicated team of specialists with international experience who would be happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to get in contact with us by clicking the contact button below.