The car will be unbundled

How did we get here?

The world is on a constant technology pendulum from bundling to unbundling.

The mobility world we know today is based on 100 years of technological development. From the Internal Combustion Engine enabled by Rockefeller’s refined Standard Oil to Ford’s innovative supply chain that allowed Model T’s to come off factory lines as easily as bottles of soda. From the mandates of President Eisenhower putting WWII US veterans to work building the most massive network of roads the world had ever seen to the rise of suburbia, malls and edge cities, a car in every driveway came to symbolize the American Dream.

But that car is a bundle. As a pre-paid option to go anywhere and at anytime, a car offers a bundle of trips whether short or long and whether used or not in a box weighing, on average, 20 times its payload. The externalities of this arrangement are becoming daunting. From more than 1 million fatalities every year, to climate change, to congestion that saps productivity and enrages, this object, carrying typically only one passenger, ceased being a liberator. The bundle became overbearing and over-serving crushing more value than it creates.

Where do we need to go?

The other way. Just as the mainframe was unbundled into the personal computer and the network and the PC itself was unbundled into phones, tablets and wearables, transport is moving from monolithic all-in-one owned cars into ever-smaller on-demand vehicles that are optimized for journey length, payload, fleet use, utilization, energy consumed and space allocated. The capital saved through high utilization and energy saved with weight reduction are  providing profit motives that are becoming irresistible to investors.

Our focus is on what this unbundling will entail and what we can do to accelerate it. It’s a transformation that is not only virtuous but highly profitable.

The hard part about predicting the future of mobility isn’t really a question of “what”, it’s much more about the “when” and “who”. Here are some of the questions we want to answer:

  • How quickly will micromobility be adopted?
  • Which business strategy will be successful?
  • How will capital be allocated?
  • How will policy change?
  • How will consumers react?
  • What is the best segmentation of travel into the right “job-to-be-done” categories?
  • How were the categories of travel merged into one object of conveyance?
  • How do we move from product ownership to product as a service to product as a security?
  • How are the various services inducing the introduction of new vehicles? — bespoke to categories of travel
  • How are  three vectors of innovation--on-demand dispatch, Li-ion batteries and automated driving-- affecting vehicular designs and service models.
  • How are new manufacturing and distribution technologies affecting the vehicle?
  • How will the great unbundling affect cities, nations, work and urbanization?