Two years ago mobility suffered a massive gut punch there was standstill across the UK, as restrictions from the Government locked down travel for all but essential workers, and many of us stayed at home to slow the spread of the virus.
Now that we’ve adjusted to the shifting sands of new society, says Peter O’Driscoll, managing director at RingGo, we’re finding that mobility is adapting with us, as we forge and promote fresh ideas around movement.
Provisional estimates from the UK Government show motor vehicles travelled 293.0 billion vehicle miles in Great Britain for the year ending June 2021. This shows Britain is moving again still lower than pre-pandemic levels, but moving nonetheless. And with this, we’re seeing renewed focus on innovating transport, while prioritising health and safety.
Out of the crucible of the pandemic, we have synthesised fresh trends and attitudes around public and private transport. With this in mind, I shall outline some of these emerging trends we’re seeing, as well as what consumers are now prioritising, and how these changes are impacting our roads and transport systems today.
Digitalisation: Removing the stress of travelling from A to B
While the simplicity and convenience of digital solutions have done much to ease the stress of things like parking, there remain frustrations. A lack of facilities, the task of hunting for a spot, and a lack of payment choice are common pain points that feed negative perceptions. Today, drivers are demanding the same digital convenience for mobility as they do for broader consumer goods and services.
To respond to consumer technological expectations, we’re seeing strides being made with in-car configurations and native infotainment system displays with some models so digitally advanced that they could rightly be considered ‘smartphones on wheels’. In cars, open data networks as part of integrated digital solutions can equip customers with vital information about a range of services designed to build convenience into their journeys; EV chargers, accessibility for disabled drivers, and air quality information, to name but a few.
Consumers appreciate the convenience of products like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and big automakers are creating partnerships to bring benefits into cars, developing advanced infotainment systems to keep drivers connected. Brands like BMW are introducing new integrations to make connectivity more seamless, and accessibility of apps and functions as simple as saying “Hey Google” inside a car.
The green revolution: Welcoming the wide spread of EVs
Around one in 10 new cars in the UK is electric, with uptake expected to soar over the next 12 months. Encouraging the switch to EVs is also being supported by the legal requirement for new homes and businesses to have an EV charger installed from 2022, and this can only be good news, given the imperative to act swiftly on global climate concerns and end the sale of fossil fuels in the coming decades.
We will continue to see growth of EV charging stations across the country in the coming year. However, there are still some barriers to entry for would-be EV owners. A lack of charging service providers is a concern, as is the limited availability of high-speed charging point infrastructure. The absence of competition and a joined-up strategy between EV charging providers could inhibit the rapid acceleration of the required standardised infrastructure.
For the green revolution to fully take hold, more education of drivers need to happen. In November 2021, 36.4% of cars registered were battery EVs according to SMMT, but petrol and diesel combined still retain a lion’s share. To shift the needle fully in favour of EVs, there needs to be a concerted push from public and private organisations cost of vehicles needs to driven down by automakers, while more rigorous legislation, tax breaks and infrastructure can boost attractiveness to new buyers. However, in the long-term, taxation models will need to be tweaked, as petrol starts to bring in significantly less revenue for the Government.
Parking reinvigoration: The open-market
An Open-Market for parking multiple cashless parking solutions operating in the same area is already making great strides and proving popular overseas. Although a relatively new concept in the UK, it offers promise, and inroads are being made.
As part of the National Parking Platform’s first Open-Market rollout, motorists in Manchester can choose to pay for parking through RingGo and three other providers. This will incentivise parking service providers to innovate and offer the best possible experience, and it provides additional reliability and efficiencies for those managing the services.
As well as Manchester, and now Cambridgeshire, Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole, the Open-Market is set to expand yet further next year. This will help democratise data, with parking providers and third parties able to securely share and access important data points, driving better digital services. Promoting an Open-Market is ultimately something that ties into current trends, and what consumers are calling for now, which is more convenience and better digital accessibility when driving.
The author is Peter O’Driscoll, managing director at RingGo.