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Why cities must approach micromobility more systematically and sustainably

Micromobility can considerably lower Europe’s CO2 emissions but cities need to “reset” their approach to it if these modes of transport are to maximise its potential.

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EIT InnoEnergy extrapolated micromobility behaviour across Europe
EIT InnoEnergy extrapolated micromobility behaviour across Europe

Cities need to “reset” their approach to micromobility if it is to maximise its potential to considerably lower Europe’s CO2 emissions and create up to one million jobs by 2030 according to a new report.

 

The report by sustainable energy innovation engine, EIT InnoEnergy, said it needs to be approached in a more systemic and sustainable way.

 

Micromobility behaviour

 

EIT InnoEnergy extrapolated micromobility behaviour in the city of Munich across more than 100 European cities and combined it with various, validated scenarios to create projections of the impact of a systemic electric, shared, and connected micromobility roll-out by 2030.

 

The report identifies major hurdles around micromobility adoption like current limitations on vehicle types, making them unfit to transport groceries, pick up children from school or accommodate parcel deliveries.

 

In addition, short vehicle lifespans, high operational costs, in regard to charging and relocation, and lack of integration into European cities’ transport systems is hampering uptake. In consequence, micromobility today accounts for less than 0.1 per cent of all trips within cities.

 

“The initial roll-out of the first generation of micromobility fleets was hastily done, with little thought put into how to best fit them into a larger mobility system,” said Jennifer Dungs, EIT InnoEnergy’s energy for transport and mobility thematic leader, and author of the report. “As a result, the vehicles did little to solve existing challenges such as air pollution, traffic jams, high noise levels or increasingly crowded urban centres. In fact, this has created new problems that have hurt the perception and the business case surrounding micromobility.”

“The initial rollout of the first generation of micromobility fleets was hastily done, with little thought put into how to best fit them into a larger mobility system”

To overcome those hurdles, EIT InnoEnergy recommends a “micromobility reboot” and systemic and sustainable multi-stakeholder approach. This includes a shift to higher quality components and improved serviceability – particularly motors and batteries – more local manufacturing, consequent recycling, a focus on developing and utilising purpose-built vehicles, leveraging analytics platforms for relocation and charging and implementing more favourable regulations for micromobility fleets.

 

In addition to creating almost one million direct and indirect jobs (990,000), this approach could lower CO2 emissions by more than 30 million tons and save up to 127 TWh of energy consumption per year, the equivalent of ~12.5 per cent of Germany’s energy sector’s CO2 emissions in 2019, and ~23 per cent of Germany’s transport sector’s energy consumption in 2018, respectively.

 

Increasing GDP

 

The report estimates an ~ €111bn increase in GDP could be realised as a result of almost one billion (999 million) person hours saved per year due to decreased congestion – more than the combined GDPs of Malta, Cyprus, Latvia, and Estonia. In addition, 48,000 hectares of inner-city land could be freed up, equivalent to more than four times the total area of Paris.

 

Dungs adds: “We need to press the reset button if we want micromobility to play an outsized role in the much-needed redesign of our cities and their transport systems. Leveraging innovations like purpose-built vehicles or battery swapping stations is one part of the solution. Another one is to establish platforms enabling a structural exchange between cities and providers to help guide the process. Looking at the potential benefits for urban life quality, the environment and our economy we should all have a vested interest to support and accelerate this transition.”

 

Established in 2010 and supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), EIT InnoEnergy has offices across Europe and in Boston, US. EIT InnoEnergy is the driving force behind several European initiatives, including the European Battery Alliance, the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Centre and the European Solar Initiative.

 

The full report “Examining the impact of a sustainable electric micromobility approach in Europe” is available for download here.

 

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