You might have heard an often-quoted statistic. In 2007, half the world’s population lived in cities but by 2050, it is estimated, that proportion will have reached two-thirds.
In fact, this shift has already happened in the UK. More than 75% of people reside in areas that can be described as urban and that percentage is increasing.
This presents a question for our fleets: “How do we operate successfully in the cities of the future?”
Arval recently sponsored a book by renowned mobility expert Lukas Neckermann that examines this very problem – and he raises many interesting points.
The challenges Neckermann identifies are predictable and even familiar. In the current urban environment, traffic too often creates congestion and impacts on air quality.
He argues that smog-filled cities that are too difficult to get around and with no green spaces will see a high rate of desertion. People will leave them in favour of better cities.
In line with this thinking, he believes that, as successful cities grow, they will become more politically important, that the mayors of the biggest could rival heads of state for influence. This could influence the legislation that affects fleets.
One result of this is a trend that is already under way and which he expects to accelerate in the short-to-medium term – the move towards restricting access to cities for transport.
In the longer term, Neckermann sees no alternative to complete reimaging of city infrastructures that are pedestrian-centric.
This means car-free zones, separating paths and infrastructure for commercial traffic, integrating accommodation for shared mobility, autonomous vehicles, and last-mile solutions such as bikes, scooters and shared-ride vehicles.
Within this environment, fleets will still have an important role in business operation but one that will undoubtedly change. Journey planning, car sharing and pool vehicles are just some of the options companies are already looking at.
It certainly makes for interesting reading and in the context of Government policy is already forming part of the discussions that we are having with fleets about the future direction of their travel strategies.
By Shaun Sadlier head of the corporate vehicle observatory Arval