Smart Mobility – Shaping a New World

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The mobility sector is changing dramatically. The invention of the car in the late 19th century and its wide proliferation during the 20th century were no less than a revolution. But as time went on, the revolutionary solution of the past became a major problem of the present. The combination of climate change, road congestion and the information revolution has paved the way for significant change in the mobility sector. The new model that seems likely to dominate the upcoming century is called “Mobility as a Service,” and it is a combination of Shared-Electric-Connected-Autonomous vehicles. It is no longer about the vehicle itself, but rather how people move from one place to another. In most areas? where private car ownership is dominant, owning a car will become only one option out of a variety of transport alternatives. The aim of MaaS (mobility as a service) is to offer the best value proposition for its users, providing convenient, more sustainable and sometimes even more cost-effected alternatives.

Urban areas are becoming more densely populated as people move to urban centers.  According to the International Transport Forum, total transport activity will more than double by 2050 if current efforts continue at their present pace. This requires transport policy makers to rethink allocation of the public space and change it in a way that will accommodate more people. Future solutions will require urban and policy changes such as providing new parking provisions, paving bicycle lanes, as well as enhancing development of public transport systems.

Smart mobility is an umbrella term for applications and systems that build on collection and analysis of Big data to promote better transportation alternatives as well as their synchronization. The smart mobility revolution includes significant changes, including the transition to zero-emission vehicles, introducing new modes of sharing (car/travel), facilitating connectivity among vehicles and with other relevant traffic data (pedestrians, infrastructure, etc., known also as “V2X,” or “vehicle to everything,” and autonomous driving.

The smart mobility revolution is based on new players that are innovating and shaping solutions for existing challenges, but also on traditional car manufacturers that are open to innovation and interested in leading the sector towards a new era. While the transition to smart mobility offers an opportunity to improve the quality of life, it also raises novel challenges and dilemmas. Safety, privacy, employment models and other ethical considerations are just a few of the many issues that arise and are inherent to the transition process.

Smart Mobility as a Key Tool in Dealing with Road Congestion

The smart mobility revolution, and the embedded model of “mobility as a service” could play a pivotal role in dealing with the growing challenge of road congestion.

With the exception of the Covid-19 period, traffic congestion has grown alongside the demand for trips. Growth and densification have increased the demand for goods and services, as well as the number of employees and hence, commuters. The increase in trip demand includes not only road trips, but also rail, air and water transportation. In many cities, the bulk of trip demand is served by the automobile, popular due to its convenience by providing point-to-point travel. Often, and at certain periods throughout the day, demand for car travel exceeds road capacity, leading to negative consequences including air pollution, injury, property damage, lost time and wasted fuel. The rise in prominence of emergent technologies, such as electric vehicles, shared bikes and scooters have sought to address harmful effects and lead urban mobility into a greener, safer direction.

Road Congestion in Israel

Road congestion in Israel grows worse every year. According to WAZE data, there was a 27% increase in traffic in October 2021 relative to February 2020 (just before Covid 19 appeared in Israel for the first time). According to OECD data, Israel is the most congested of the OECD countries. The pace of construction in mass transit infrastructure is far from overtaking the pace of the increase in the number of private vehicles.

The annual cost of road congestion in Israel is estimated at 40 billion NIS (approximately 11.5 billion EUR) and a 50 billion NIS (14.25 billion EUR) increase is anticipated in 2030. According to the TomTom index, the average Israeli driver wastes approximately 150-200 hours a year in traffic.

The Main Pillars of Smart Mobility

The smart mobility revolution builds on several main pillars: the information revolution, the electrification of vehicles, and new types of mobility – mainly autonomous mobility, connected mobility and shared mobility.

(1) The information revolution and its impact on the mobility sector

The cultivation of advanced technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain promises to unlock unforeseeable opportunities in every aspect of life. This prospect is setting the trend across industries, including cities’ approach to transportation.

Many cities are aiming to incorporate smart mobility solutions as part of their smart city blueprint. Smart mobility extends beyond the application of information technology systems (ITS); it is about responding to traffic issues and the mobility needs of the city using the ability to collect and plan with real-time data to optimize urban mobility services and operations.

The information revolution enables three major changes:

  • Smart payment – cashless and cardless: The rise of contactless payment in transport is made possible using radiofrequency identification (RFID) or near-field communication (NFC). The shift from cash and pre-purchase tickets to digital payment has provided seamless travel on public transport services, encouraging more commuters to use them. Digital payments make the payment process efficient and less prone to human error as they reduce the need for ticket booths, production of plastic or paper tickets, human resources, and dwell time (the time a vehicle or train stops to either drop off or pick up passengers at each station). For some cities, smart urbanization means moving toward a cashless and cardless society.

In 2019, the Israeli government passed a reform that instituted cardless ticketing, which allows passengers to pay for public transportation with their smartphones through one of four applications.

  • Smart planning and booking systems: Booking mobility services via smartphone is now easier than ever. These systems have boomed over the past decade and have been quickly adopted globally. Together with technological innovations and the shift in cultural mindset to a “sharing or peer economy,” the urban mobility sector has been radically affected by a wave of new mobility service players such as Uber, Lyft, Didi, Lime, Bird and others. Some of these players also offer a combination of mobility modes such as scooter and a ride-hailing service. The convenience in booking a ride also encourages the concept of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), as commuters are provided with a range of highly tailored mobility options.
  • Big data in the use of mobility companies: The current volume and speed at which data is generated, processed and stored is unprecedented and will fundamentally alter the transport sector. The combination of low-cost and widespread sensing (much of it involving personal devices), the steep drop in data storage costs and the availability of new data processing algorithms, improves companies’ ability to capture more detailed representations of real-time conditions and analyze them with greater accuracy. Today, the representations enabled by big data augment traditional sources of transport data collection. In the future, they will likely replace them. Multi-platform sensing technologies are now able to precisely locate and track people, vehicles and objects. The fusion of purposely-sensed, opportunistically-sensed and crowd-sourced data generates new insights about transport activity and flows

(2) Electric mobility

Electric vehicles (EVs) unlike their fuel-driven counterparts, operate on electricity. Instead of an internal combustion engine, these vehicles run on an electric motor that requires a constant supply of energy from batteries. A variety of batteries are used in these vehicles, including lithium ion, molten salt, zinc-air, and various nickel-based designs.

Electric vehicles (EVs) were primarily intended to replace conventional means of transportation in an effort to reduce air pollution However, beyond this initial incentive, they have three additional major advantages over fossil fuel vehicles: (1) higher fuel economy, (2) lower carbon emissions (3) smoother drive and reduced engine noise. Thus, as part of the effort to both deal with climate change and reduce pollution dramatically, EVs have a central role to play.

However, the current production costs for EVs are still higher than for fossil fuel vehicles, making them less economical for car manufacturers and therefore, for the client. This situation is not likely to persist for long – battery prices for EVs have dropped 70% in the past seven years, and it is estimated that the price gap between EVS and fossil fuel vehicles will be closed in the coming years.

Sales of EVs have increased significantly in recent years. Electric car registrations increased by 41% in 2020, despite the pandemic-related worldwide downturn in car sales, in which global car sales dropped 16%. Approximately 3 million electric cars were sold globally – 4.6% of overall private car sales. In 2020, more than one in 10 cars registered in the EU was electrically chargeable.

The sale of EVs in Israel got off to a slow start relative to other developed countries. During the first quarter of 2021, 920 EVs were purchased in Israel, a 50% increase from the first quarter of 2020. More than 3,000 PEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) were purchased during that period.  However, sales of EVs were less than 1% of all cars purchased in the country in the first quarter of 2021 (5.7%, if PEVs are included).

Until 2021, the variety of EV supply in Israel was very limited. In 2019 there were only 12 models, compared to 42 in Europe. However, this situation has changed. Currently, there is a variety of 24 EV models which offer the Israeli client different sizes, brands and prices.

Israel has promising potential for adoption of EVs. It is a small and densely populated country, and therefore requires a simple charging infrastructure. Electricity prices are relatively low whereas fuel prices are high, which could be helpful in pushing the market to adopt EVs that are based on the electricity produced from natural gas. Israel is also known as a country that tends to adopt technology and innovation and has a high level of public receptivity to changes, which might help with the transition to electric transportation. Moreover, the Israeli government declared that the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned by 2030; still, the path to achieving that target remains vague.

Charging infrastructure for EVs in Israel improved significantly over the past years. As of July 2021, there were approximately 1,000 public charging stations in the country, and hundreds more will be added in the coming months. There is fierce competition among the charging companies, leading to good service and relatively low prices for clients. In addition, the Israeli government has invested millions of NIS in subsidies for public charging stations.

Nevertheless, even if a transition to 100% electric vehicles is achieved, this would not yield a zero-carbon outcome. EVs may not produce the usual exhaust-pipe emissions, but even if all electricity were to be generated from renewable sources, which is still a distant target, there is still be an environmental cost. Sourcing the minerals used for batteries, dismantling EVs batteries that have deteriorated, and building and delivering vehicles to customers worldwide – all involve substantial CO2 emissions.

Alternatives to EVs might present a better solution, but it is unknown which technology will be preferred. Different directions such as hydrogen or electrification of the road itself are currently being explored. One example of an Israeli company that aims to find an alternative to the need for  charging stations for electric car batteries is Electroen. It is developing a shared energy platform that provides wireless charging of electric vehicles “on the go” Its solution allows minimizing battery size, making the battery cheaper and lighter, and eliminating “range anxiety.”  Taxation of EVs in Israel is relatively low – there is only a 10% purchase tax, but the rate will be increased to 20% in 2023 and 35% from 2024 and on.

In 2021, the Israeli Ministers of Energy, Transportation and Environmental Protection declared a two-year program with a budget of 625 million NIS (178 Million EUR) to fight climate change. This plan is expected to accelerate the transition to EVs. The plan includes subsidies for purchasing hundreds of electric busses, including the necessary charging stations.

(3) Autonomous mobility

Ninety percent of all traffic collisions are caused by human error, whereby drivers take a wrong decision at the wrong time, resulting in disastrous and, all too often, fatal collisions. Autonomous mobility is aimed to solve this problem, and also to improve the quality of life by obviating the need to drive.

An autonomous vehicle (AV) is a vehicle capable of deciding on and taking a course of action, such as steering or braking, without the need for human intervention.

Autonomous vehicles are considered to have the following advantages:

  • Increased safety – Autonomous vehicles have the potential to remove human error from the crash equation, which will help protect drivers and passengers, as well as cyclists and pedestrians. Nevertheless, this potential has not yet been fully realized, as can be evidenced in several fatal crashes involving level 2 and level 3 autonomous vehicles that have occurred over the past years.
  • Economic and societal – By reducing crashes, autonomous vehicles will reduce the billions of dollars in economic activity lost due to vehicle crashes, including loss of workplace productivity, loss of life and decrease in quality of life due to injuries.
  • Efficiency and convenience – Roads filled with automated vehicles could also be coordinated to induce smooth traffic flow and reduce traffic congestion. The driving efficiency would allow more vehicles to flow at the same time. However, it is important to note that automation alone will not solve road congestion –only assist in reducing it.
  • Accessibility – AVs may provide new mobility options to millions who cannot drive today, such as the elderly and people with disabilities. Automated vehicles could furthermore extend new work opportunities for millions of people that currently live in places where employment and/or independent living rely on the ability to drive.

It is currently unclear when AVs will be ready for the public. However, some major milestones have already been reached:

  • Level 4 AVs are “self-driving” vehicles that have a bounded scope of where and when they will drive: The best example of a level 4 vehicle is Google’s Waymo robotaxi project in Phoenix, Arizona which started in 2020. Other companies are also making significant progress in developing level 4 vehicles, but these vehicles are currently not commercially available for the public.
  • A robot-taxi project called PINTA is planned to be launched in Tel Aviv: Pinta is a shared project of Mobileye, Volkswagen and Champion Motors. This project will go into operation on the roads in the greater Tel Aviv area without a supervising human driver.
  • New legislation in Israel outlines a framework for pilot trials of autonomous vehicles on Israel’s roads: Three companies – Mobileye, GM and Yandex – have already received approval for conducting trials of such vehicles on public roads with supervising drivers.
  • According to the “Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index” of KMPG, Israel is rated number one in the technology category, thanks largely to Mobileye and hundreds of startups covering almost every aspect of autonomous and smart vehicles. Overall, however, Israel was placed in an the less impressive 16th place among the 30 rated countries due to other criteria, in which it performed less well, such as infrastructure, policy and regulation.

(4) Connected mobility

The concept of integrated mobility refers to the ability to combine different modes of transport so that the traveler experience becomes seamless, even when it includes interchanges. In this context, V2X communication, a key component of connected car solutions, is figuring as an increasingly critical factor in the success of autonomous cars.

V2X or ‘vehicle to X’ stands for ‘Vehicle-to-Everything,’ and refers to passing information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle and vice versa.

V2X technology covers the following:

  • V2I, or “Vehicle-to-Infrastructure”  refers to the exchange of data between a car and equipment installed along roads, generally called a ‘roadside unit’ (RSU). V2I can be typically used to broadcast traffic conditions and emergency information to drivers.
  • V2N or “Vehicle-to-Network” is when a vehicle accesses the network for cloud-based services, also known as V2C or “Vehicle-to-Cloud.”
  • V2V or “’Vehicle-to-Vehicle’” relates to the transfer of data between vehicles. Compared to what sensors can provide to the car, information transmitted via V2V technology can come from cars a few hundred meters ahead or even hidden cars from behind trucks or buildings.
  • V2P or “Vehicle-to-Pedestrian” is the exchange of data between the car and pedestrians.

For car manufacturers, V2X, and more specifically V2V, is a milestone on the road to fully autonomous cars.

The challenge of choosing the optimum communication bearer (DSRC aka Dedicated Short Range Communications, C-V2X aka Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything or hybrid) keeps the industry and the mobile community very active with two main contending and incompatible technologies:

  • DSRC uses an extension of IEEE 802.11 p derived from a Wi-Fi version (IEEE 802-11).
  • C-V2X or LTE-V2X uses SIM technology.

In November 2020, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to Forbes magazine, clearly favored C-V2X technology,. It decided to open to Wi-Fi the communication band (aka the safety band or 5.9 GHz) reserved for DSRC. One of the reasons may be that Ford, a US industrial champion, had already selected C-V2X. The company stated that it plans to start deploying C-V2X in China in 2021 and in the United States in 2022.

Volkswagen set the tone for Europe in 2019 when it chose? signed on to the DSRC option.

Toyota dropped DSRC in 2019. According to Car and Driver, the switch to cellular V2X (C-V2X using 4G LTE and 5G) is on its way, but the technology requires a new round of security testing.

The growing threat of cyber-attacks on vehicles has launched a wave of standards-setting and regulatory activity across the globe intended to define a path forward to securing vehicles from hacks and intrusions. The need for action has been intensified by the rapid increase in vehicle systems dependent on connectivity and the rapid evolution of automated driving.

The onset of embedded modems and other wireless connections in vehicles has thrust cyber security concerns to the forefront, given the risk of rogue vehicles threatening the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The presence of telematics units in vehicles create further risks for the remote control of vehicles via wireless connections.

Moreover, digitization and connectivity in vehicles is generating large volumes of data, which has raised privacy concerns as sensitive driver information, such as driving routes, contacts and other private data may present attractive targets for attack. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which serves to protect the privacy of EU citizens, thus requires OEMs to apply security measures to protect data from cyber-attacks.

(5) Shared mobility

Shared mobility refers to the shared used of a vehicle, bicycle, or other mode of transportation for accessing transportation services on an as-needed basis. The concept includes a variety of transportation modes such as car-sharing, bike-sharing, peer-to-peer ride-sharing, on-demand ride services, and micro-transit. These options can supplement fixed-route bus and rail services to varying degrees.

The benefits of shared mobility modes are manifold:

  • More mobility choices
  • Last-mile and first-mile solutions
  • Reduced traffic congestion
  • Mitigation of various forms of pollution
  • Reduced transportation costs
  • Equitable access to jobs and other resources
  • Improved efficiency
  • Choices for those who cannot afford to buy and maintain a vehicle
  • Accessible mobility options for those with limited physical ability

Shared-mobility accounted for approximately $130-$140 billion in global consumer spending in 2019. Out of this, e-hailing accounted for the largest share, $120 billion to $130 billion, which is more than 90 percent of the total market.

There are a few modes of shared mobility:

Micromobility

Micromobility is a collective name for fleets of small, low-speed vehicles for personal transportation (primarily bikes and scooters) which can be either human powered or electric. Micromobility is primarily found in urban areas and is used for short trips in areas with good connectivity and densely-spaced destinations.

Micromobility serves as a first/last mile option that is faster than hailing a taxi, walking, or transferring to low-frequency transit. Typical micromobility trips are about 1-3 miles, but some trips can be as long as 10 miles, especially when aided by electric battery. Micromobility vehicles rarely transport more than one person at a time.

Carsharing

Carsharing provides a network of cars available to pre-screened members for short-term use, with borrowing time generally measured in hours rather than the method for  traditional car rental, measured in units of days. The service is ideal for mid- to long-range trips (5 to 20+ miles), especially when shopping or other cargo is involved. A single hourly price generally includes the costs of fuel and insurance, and often parking and tolls. Pricing may reflect variable demand for vehicles over the course of the week, with the highest demand on weekends, and overnight or midweek rentals usually seeing the lowest demand and lowest prices.

Rentals are self-service, relying on apps and transponders that allow remote access to vehicles, and employ either a dedicated fleet owned and managed by the service provider or vehicles sourced from other community members (called peer-to-peer carsharing). The service requires nodes of moderate-to-high density that put many users within convenient reach of vehicles.

Round-trip or station-based carsharing was the earliest service configuration, with vehicles picked up from and returned to set parking spots. One-way carsharing, in which users can pick up and leave cars anywhere within a service area, is more flexible but requires higher-density land use.

Rides-on-Demand: Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and Taxis

Rides-on-demand are trips reserved and paid for via app, using passenger vehicles with capacities up to about 6 passengers. Also known as ridehailing or ridesourcing, this new generation of services is best exemplified by transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft.

Trips can be exclusive to individual passengers or shared/pooled when a driver picks up two or more unconnected passengers with similar routes over the course of a trip. Pooled services were originally available only in large markets with sufficient numbers of riders and vehicles. However, Uber and Lyft both suspended their pooled services in March 2020 in response to the health crisis; as of May 2020, they were both continuing to serve individual bookings, with heightened precautions.

Many transit agencies have begun relying on TNCs for first/last-mile connections at times/in areas that are difficult to serve with fixed-route transit. Because the TNC business model limits the operator’s control over which vehicles are matched with which rides, it is generally impossible to guarantee that wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) will be available for users who need them.

Though rides on demand can be used for any kind of trip, these services are most frequently employed for recreational trips and airport travel rather than for commutes, although the proportion of commutes is growing. Rides on demand are an effective choice for low-to-moderate density contexts (suburbs to semi-rural areas), especially in car-dependent landscapes with poor pedestrian connectivity and infrequent transit.

Microtransit

Microtransit, a technological evolution of dial-a-ride and paratransit, refers to services with flexible routes and schedules and on-demand availability, using vehicles larger than personal autos but smaller than transit buses – generally vans or cutaways carrying up to 20 passengers. Unlike other new mobility modes, these services require professional drivers who are usually employed through a purchased-transportation arrangement with a vendor or even employed directly by a transit agency.

Microtransit functions best within or between moderate-density environments that lack pedestrian connectivity or fixed-route transit between activity nodes, especially suburban areas with highly separated land uses and interrupted street grids. It is best suited for short-to-medium range trips (3 to 15 miles) where transit connections are needed, but fixed-route transit cannot operate productively. By its nature, microtransit rarely moves more than 3-5 passengers per vehicle revenue hour, but it may offer greater flexibility in well-defined corridors or zones of operation like commercial subdivisions or strings of office parks.

Vanpooling

Vanpooling is a subscription-based service where one driver provides prearranged rides to 3-15 passengers with whom they share an origin and destination. Generally administered by a public agency, business district, or workplace, vanpooling programs typically lease and make the vehicles (minivans or passenger vans) available and participants share a monthly fee that covers the vehicle cost, insurance, maintenance, and gas – generally much less than the cost of making the same daily trip in a personal vehicle. Many employers cover some of the cost and provide ride matching based on users’ addresses.

Vanpooling makes sense in auto-dependent, low-to-moderate density environments, and is viable for medium to long-range trips (5 to 40+ miles) unserved by transit. Though efficiencies increase and costs decrease with more participants, administrative complexity increases along with the number of riders, an effort generally borne by the program administrator.

Carpooling                 

Carpooling refers to self-service, pooled rides in the driver’s personal vehicle, with at least one passenger, to a common destination. Traditionally, this takes place on a set schedule among the same individuals. In the last decade, advances in mobile technology have encouraged the growth of new carpooling models that allow the discovery of nearby rides/riders from outside an individual’s immediate sphere.

Carpooling is suitable for the same conditions as vanpooling, though it is inherently more flexible (i.e. no dedicated vehicle, no membership requirement) and requires coordination among fewer parties.

The Mobility Sector in Israel

In recent years, Israel has developed into a mobility innovation powerhouse. The number of mobility-related startups has sharply increased and investor appetite has reached unprecedented heights. Global automotive manufacturers are steadily increasing their involvement and government support for mobility-related innovation continues to grow. Not even the COVID pandemic has halted the growth trajectory of the Israeli mobility innovation ecosystem, and the future remains promising.

Today, Israel is home to one of the world’s largest technology hubs, which has seen enormous growth, particularly in the mobility space. Since 2016, mobility startups have grown by 50%, from 400 then to over 600 in 2020. Israeli startups are highly sought after by global corporations for strategic alliances and acquisitions.

Israel’s Dynamic Ecosystem

Startups addressing the trend of new mobility provide innovative mobility solutions for passengers and goods, most notably in the area of shared mobility and micro-mobility, as well as in fleet management solutions. In May 2020, Intel acquired Moovit, a leader in the Mobility-as-a-Service space, for 1 billion USD. Startups related to autonomous driving have shown the strongest growth in the category of smart mobility startups. Since 2016, the number of startups in the category of autonomous space has grown by 26% annually, driven by a steep rise in Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) and passenger safety solutions, a trend that is in line with the rising adoption of autonomous technologies in mass-produced vehicles. In 2017, Mobileye, a leader in ADAS camera systems, became the largest acquisition in the history of Israel’s tech industry, after selling to Intel for 15 billion USD. Digitalization-related startups make up the largest share of mobility startups. These firms offer vehicle connectivity solutions (e.g. cloud, internet resources, infrastructure) and cybersecurity-related solutions. Since 2016, cybersecurity solutions alone grew five-fold, underlining the prioritization of secure connections as a prerequisite for the deployment of increasingly autonomous vehicles. Startups focusing on the development of electro mobility (e.g. EVs, batteries, charging facilities, electric motors) experienced moderate growth in recent years.

Major Activities of Mobility-Related Startups in Israel

Incumbent vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers (OESs) have also taken notice of Israeli innovation. Consequently, several OEMs and OESs have recently established business activities in Israel. General Motors started this trend in 2008 by setting up a local R&D subsidiary in Israel. Since then, more than 20 automotive OEMs and OESs have opened local innovation and R&D centers in Israel.

The Impact of Covid-19  

One of the many economic sectors that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic is transportation. Passenger and freight transport have both suffered severe setbacks as daily travel patterns and mobility behavior of commuters have been significantly affected by the pandemic. Trip-making dropped significantly during the lockdown period for the following reasons: Mandatory stay-at-home orders, closed retail/shops, and fear of contracting the virus. Overall since the onset of the pandemic, public transport in particular has seen an all-time low in ridership. People have avoided public transit for fear of coming in contact with the virus. Crowded public transport is considered a risk for the spread of the virus in urban areas, and as an alternative, people have shifted to private vehicles, bicycles, or even walking as their primary modes of transport. Some municipalities have responded to this demand by closing streets to vehicles to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Experts are hopeful for that the increase in working from home may give a boost to green urban mobility and reduce traffic congestion. In particular, the emergence in Israel pandemic of cycling during the pandemic as an alternative for safer mobility may have long-term implications for green transport policy.

The impact on public transportation use  in Israel was similar to other places in the world. However, for the Israeli smart mobility industry, it was a period of progress. An impressive number of auto-tech companies became so-called “unicorns,” i.e. valued at over USD 1 billion. Mergers and acquisitions became very popular in the sector and billions of dollars continue to be invested in new technologies and policies. Israeli companies such as Otonomo, Exilion, Ree and Electreon have all been successful in raising substantial funding during the pandemic.

What Happens Next?

There are some common insights as to what is likely to come next for the mobility industry:

  • Electrification is ensured – time is running out for diesel and gasoline cars. With increasing concerns about climate change, the transition to electric transportation is no longer a question of whether it will happen, but rather, how fast.
  • Autonomous transportation – it seems that autonomous driving will be kickstarted with commercial fleets and big vehicles e.g. trucks, buses. However, it remains uncertain whether autonomous cars will ever be privately owned.
  • Cities have to shape policies that make them convenient and accessible for different transport modalities. Cities are likely to phase out planning for private cars and will promote modalities suitable for public transportation, cycling, shared mobility and even walkability.
  • Big data will keep driving efficiency, bringing more alternatives, better planning of routes, easier payments, and collaborations among different transport providers and new marketplaces.
  • Safety, security and privacy are issues that will keep challenging both companies and policy makers. Every aspect of the mobility revolution will have to deal with these vectors.

This Backgrounder is published in the framework of the European-Israeli Forum for Environment and Sustainability, a collaboration between the Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Tel Aviv.

The opinions expressed in this text are solely that of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI) and/or the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Tel Aviv.

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