EVs, shared mobility usher new era for transport sector


The transport industry is currently experiencing some of the most significant disruptions in history: Electrification and shared mobility. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

The transport industry is currently experiencing some of the most significant disruptions in history: Electrification and shared mobility.

From changes to our daily commuting habits, to supply chain disruption and an increased focus on climate consciousness, electric vehicles (EVs) promise a greener, safer - even sleeker – solution to our mobility challenges.

Add in rising fuel prices around the globe, and it’s no wonder that electric vehicles are seen as “the future,” while traditional internal-combustion engine vehicles appear to be relegated to the scrap heap.

Ride-sharing, on the other hand, has been made possible with digitalisation.

New mobility services have been introduced: app-ordering services, such as free-floating and peer-to-peer car-sharing, car-pooling or ride-sharing, form the modern alternatives to traditional public transport or taxis and cars.

Using shared mobility might soon become as simple and common as streaming music.

In Kenya, there has been increased interest in e-mobility space. According to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, the country has over 20 startups dealing with different aspects of e-mobility, ranging from assembling two and three-electric wheelers, and electric vehicles importing, selling and dealership in charging infrastructure.

Last month Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen said the government has prioritised the adoption of e-mobility as one of the strategies of addressing climate change.

At an event in Nairobi, the minister flagged off 15 electric buses to saccos and companies in the public transport sub-sector to ply Nairobi routes.

This is evidence that the country is embracing e-mobility and particularly in the public transport sector.

Already, the government has enacted two important laws to help with the transition to e-mobility. They include the Climate Change Act of 2016, and the Energy, 2019.

In addition, the government in partnership with development partners (GIZ and UNEP), developed standards for electric motor vehicles and motorcycles to ensure poor products do not enter the country.

Through the Finance Act of 2019, the Excise Tax on 100 percent electric vehicles was reduced from 20 percent to 10 percent.

The promotion of electric mobility is, therefore, part of the strategies adopted to address emissions responsible for global warming and climate change.

Across the globe EV sales are in fact on the rise: a recent study from the US Energy Information Administration reported that hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle sales increased in 2021 and now surpass 10 percent of all light-duty vehicle sales.

And auto manufacturers have their foot on the figurative gas when it comes to bringing new EV models to market: in 2021, there were 126 new hybrid and electric vehicle models, versus only 49 ICE models.

But then there is also the concept of shared mobility that is fast gaining traction across the world.

Recent studies by Ipsos show the daily use of the average private car is as little as 63 minutes per day. Furthermore, there are 67 days annually (more than two months) when the car is not used at all.

All this cumulates in the fact that 96 percent of the time the car is just parked.

Challenging the economic efficiency of car ownership is exactly what is at the heart of all mobility services offers. And consumers are convinced by this message.

Thus, more than 50 percent of current car owners predict that instead of owning a car, people will use shared mobility services in future, as it will be the cheaper option.

But how ready is a developing country such as Kenya for these disruptions in the transport and automotive industries?

For the EVs, it is safer to say that we are already there and the government is already demonstrating a commitment to have the industry transition to environmentally cleaner electric energy.

For the concept of shared mobility, research focused elsewhere has shown consumers are ready to accept the fast-growing trend of shared mobility in future.

But the exact pace and direction will be significantly influenced by another player in the field – city authorities.

Car sharing is not a new concept in Kenya, just like other African countries. It’s been around longer and is more popular than in Western countries.

In the region, distances are generally long and with public transportation infrastructure often underdeveloped hence many people have no reluctance when it comes to sharing a ride.

But this is not necessarily a consequence of poverty, but rather a result of culture and habit.

The continent does still face issues with regard to car sharing.

Some of these include fractured road networks, decreasing air quality in major cities due to increasing motorization and inadequate road safety measure, causing higher rates of vehicle accidents.

This calls for more holistic ways of creating transportation infrastructure such as rapid bus services and electrified rail systems.

For the two disruptors – EVs and shared mobility to succeed the interests of the city authorities and businesses (mobility providers) must also coincide, with both parties aiming to reduce the number of cars on the roads.

Free parking for car-sharing vehicles, tax privileges for electric cars, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and allowance to use public transport lanes for electric cars are just a few of many vivid examples.

The writer is the Chief Clients Officer at Ipsos Kenya.

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