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‘Minimobility’ vehicles could be the next wave of transportation coming to cities, according to a Sept report by the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility, an international mobility consultancy.
Shared use of these three- or four-wheel electrically powered vehicles that can transport one to two people is gaining interest in Europe, especially in France, according to the center.
The total addressable market for such vehicles could reach “$100 billion a year in China, Europe and North America by 2030,” the report said. “In urban areas, mini-mobility can become a viable alternative, with the added benefits of less congestion, less space requirements and lower emissions.”
Mini-mobility vehicles are easier to build, smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient than cars, according to the report. They are also slower and possibly safer than other mobility types.
Unlike traditional micromobility vehicles such as scooters, bicycles and mopeds, they allow drivers and passengers to sit comfortably, carry more cargo and provide weather protection, said Kersten Heineke, co-leader of the center, in an interview.
The report says municipalities can add them to their vehicle-sharing mix, but Heineke said private ownership would likely become a bigger market. “The best analogy is the retirement communities in Florida and California and other places where people use golf carts to get from A to B,” he said.
The report says manufacturers can build mini-mobility vehicles to go about 55 mph. But they’re better suited to going 25 to 30 mph on city streets, and can use GPS to avoid going faster than 12 or 15 mph when going off-road, such as on a bike path, Heineke said.
Governments will have to decide what permits people need to drive them on or off the road, he added. It wasn’t that long ago that no one talked about e-scooters, “and now they’re everywhere,” he said.
The range between charges remains undetermined, but will likely vary between 40 and 100 miles, since “you won’t be doing a 40-mile commute every day,” Heineke said. He expects owners to be able to charge mini-mobility vehicles using standard power outlets.
Foreign manufacturers have shown more interest than American ones; the first mini-mobility vehicles in the US are likely to be imports, Heineke said. Mobiag, a manufacturer of mobility aids, reported that Renault, Toyota and Nissan are among the carmakers that have done so proposed prototypes for such vehicles.