A few weeks ago, we introduced you to the Renz Brothers - “New Mobility” enthusiasts who have both IT and cars in their DNA. This week, we are taking a deeper dive into the sector of “New Mobility.” By doing so, we hope to illuminate the vast opportunity in this domain as well as why sente.link and New Mobility Lab have invested their time and capital to create an accelerator program for startups in the New Mobility space.
Not too long ago, investments in the mobility sector were considered, well, “not interesting.” A lack of scalable business models, a highly regulated industry and limited interest from traditional OEMs and suppliers in open innovation and corporate venturing were among the laundry list of reasons why VCs focused their attention on other technologies. But the Renz Brothers always felt that they were part of something bigger.
“Mobility and transportation is critical to our daily lives. Access to mobility means access to education, access to jobs and access to our social lives. At the same time we need to make mobility more sustainable. We believe technology can help change mobility and transportation for the better of humanity and the planet.”
Several major technologies that have empowered the transformation of the New Mobility sector include machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and blockchains (or distributed ledger technologies). To help give you a better idea into the scope of New Mobility, The Renz Brothers have broken this ecosystem into 5 core themes.
The Connected Vehicle shifts the focus away from optimizing the inner functions of the car and towards providing new services that enhance the brand experience. Examples include next generation user experiences around infotainment, but also services that make owning or using a car less of a hassle. Capabilities such as Over the Air updates introduced by Tesla enable remote maintenance, but also create new monetization models across the entire lifecycle beyond the initial purchase. On the other hand, connected vehicles also introduce significant cyber and data security risks.
Connectivity will also transform how we access the vehicle and how we experience the interior. Next generation surfaces, displays and wireless sensors coupled with biometrical sensors and natural user interfaces (i.e. voice recognition, gesture control, etc) will open up new avenues to sense, anticipate and personalize driver and passenger needs. When will connected vehicles become a true digital assistant? Who will control and secure the data of the vehicle? And who will own the data in the first place?
2. Autonomous Vehicles
The race towards autonomous driving is on. Both technology players as well as automotive OEMs, Tier 1’s and emerging players are investing heavily to make driverless vehicles a reality. As much as we have made significant progress towards automated driving and eventual driverless cars, a broad range of challenges still need to be resolved. How will driverless cars handle adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow and light conditions? How can HAD (Highly Automated Driving) maps be updated in real-time at scale to reflect changes in road conditions, traffic lights etc.? How will driverless cars interact with humans, all the way from accessing robotic cars to the day-to-day user experience?
And while autonomous vehicles will also be able to gather massive amounts of data about their environment and themselves, turning the data generated by robotic systems into sustainable business models remains a challenge. But no question - connected and autonomous vehicles will have a transformative impact on how we experience and consume mobility.
3. Mobility Services
Chances are the phone you bring with you everywhere (even the bathroom) also has some sort of ride sharing app on it somewhere. Mobility Services such as ride hailing and car sharing challenge traditional ownership models and introduce the notion of ‘On Demand’ access to shared mobility.
Delivering mobility services will introduce new requirements related to fleet management, pricing and related services that need to be delivered at scale across different cities and geographies. There is still plenty of opportunity to increase the utilization of largely underutilized assets. But is there an opportunity to create a true sharing economy without the need for intermediaries such as Uber and Lyft?
4. Electric Mobility
It appears that Tesla (and the Dieselgate scandal) have helped to create a breakthrough for electric mobility. Major OEMs including Volvo, Daimler and others are redirecting R&D investments away from combustion engines and have made electric mobility a strategic priority. However, challenges remain to address current cost and range, but also manufacturability, serviceability and charging infrastructure issues. We also believe there is significant opportunity for step change around new battery technologies beyond lithium-ion battery systems.
5. Urban Mobility
Many of the mobility and transportation issues we face are related to Urban Mobility. With the ongoing trends towards urbanization there is an increasing need to make smart use of existing infrastructure through smart traffic management and seamless multi-modal mobility, but also new vehicle concepts such as 2-wheelers, e-bikes etc. An increasing amount of traffic is related to the endless search for parking and delivery services resulting from the growth in eCommerce and food delivery services. Smart solutions including robotic systems – like airborne drones - are required to address these challenges. The US market, with its large metropolitan areas, provides a perfect environment to test, validate and scale such offerings.
The opportunities to reinvent mobility are vast. Together, sente.link and new mobility lab, have the mission to help startups, corporations and investors take advantage of the opportunities that the transformation of the industry towards the New Mobility ecosystem presents.
To learn more about the New Mobility program, click here.