The evolving landscape of eMobility
Updated: Dec 31, 2022
Greater adoption of micromobility, especially e-scooters and e-bikes, could reduce traffic and carbon emissions, but challenges remain.
Shared micromobility innovations such as e-bikes and e-scooters have the power to transform how citizens navigate congested Canadian cities.
Unlocking benefits for consumers and the environment are possible if city governments engage and collaborate with operators and stakeholders to develop a fit-for-purpose framework that meets the unique needs of each city.
I define ‘shared micromobility’ primarily as the collection of publicly available electric-powered vehicles primarily used for last-mile transportation. These are often in the form of scooters (e-scooters) and bicycles (e-bikes), and in some instances e-mopeds. Shared e-scooters or e-bikes are usually owned and administered by private operators, regulated by individual cities and made accessible to the residents and visitors of a city on the public right of way via mobile applications.
Shared micromobility operators focus on servicing short distance transportation needs in highly dense geographical areas— to and from their homes, public transit stations, offices, grocery stores and entertainment venues, for example — via a more affordable, flexible and sustainable alternative to personal vehicles, ride-sharing services, taxis or public buses.
Although most consumers in Canada and abroad view shared micromobility as a novel solution addressing a small subsection of the transportation sector, widespread integration of e-scooters and e-bikes into a city’s transport infrastructure could have tremendous upside in terms of reducing overall traffic congestion, addressing social inequities related to transportation and assisting the over 192 countries committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.1
However, for cities to unlock the many social, economic and environmental benefits associated with shared micromobility, they must engage and collaborate with operators, users, and key system stakeholders (such as transit authorities, business improvement associations, and economic development agencies) to understand the intricacies of their local market. Every city has a unique set of constraints and capabilities that will enable or inhibit its ability to integrate shared micromobility into its transportation ecosystem.
By taking the time to work with operators, city governments will be able to develop fit-for-purpose service models and regulatory frameworks that consider the unique infrastructure limitations, economic growth targets and environmental impacts a shared e-scooter or e-bike program will have on their city.
Accompanying these challenges are several opportunities that have the potential to accelerate the integration of shared micromobility into global transportation networks. The advancement of technologies such as geolocation, the internet of things (IoT), swappable batteries and lidar have played a significant role in enhancing the performance of shared e-scooters and e-bikes, improving their ability to service a wider range of trips. With these trends in mind, EY analyst research suggests the global shared micromobility market is still expected to reach:
An e-scooter market size of $1.07b in 2022 and $2.53b in 2027.4
A bike-sharing market size of $3.46b in 2022 and $4.49b in 2027.5
Roughly 149 shared micromobility operators around the world.6
These insights indicate that the global shared micromobility market is promising, offering a multitude of benefits related to more efficient transportation, economic growth and environmental sustainability for cities across the globe. However, unlike other global markets, Canada possesses several unique barriers to entry and adoption that could stifle widespread integration of shared e-scooters and e-bikes into its transportation ecosystem. For shared micromobility to become a key component of Canada’s transportation ecosystem, operators and city governments will have to work collaboratively to execute the following next steps:
Design a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework that meets the unique needs of each city.
Invest in the necessary infrastructure upgrades to support shared micromobility.
Develop incentives that enable operators to service a greater proportion of a city’s population.
Assess the effectiveness and perception of shared micromobility in a city via pilot studies.
By Dr. Lance Mortlock (EY Canada Managing Partner, Energy & Haskayne School of Business Visiting Professor)