Frost & Sullivan Market Insight   Published: 20 Mar 2012
Passenger Car OEMs to Offer Next-Gen Sustainable Commutes via Micro-Mobility Solutions
Date Published: 20 Mar 2012

By Vishwas Shankar, Industry Analyst, Automotive and Transportation and Sarwant Singh, Partner and Practice Director, Automotive and Transportation, Frost & Sullivan

Automakers globally are targeting to launch more than 135 models of micro-mobility solutions by 2020. Among the 135 models, 16 keypassenger car original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) alone targetmore than 110 models; 50 models of those which are production ready. But why do OEMs target this new form of mobility for daily commutes and why an estimated $300 million already invested in this market? The reason remains thatmicro-mobility solutions are here to sustain.

Micro-mobility, Segmentation and Solutions Types

Micro-Mobilitysolutions target to provide solutions to daily short-distance commutes using unconventional models. These are a new genre in terms of not only shape, size and looks but also choice of vehicle power, number of wheels and so on. This is reflectedin segmentation in chart 1.1

Chart 1.1 Micro-MobilityMarket: Segmentation, Global, 2011

                                                                     Source: Frost & Sullivan analysis

By 2015, nearly 60 models (50 of these coming from passenger car OEMs) expected to flood the market in different types (open-top/close-top) and convenience (standing/seating). For instance, PSA e-Vivacity, Piaggio MP3, BMW Pedelec, Toyota Winglet, Suzuki e-Let's and Honda EV-Neo in open-top type and Renault Twizy in close-top type are already up for grabs as on 2011. Volkswagen(VW) Bik.e, VW e-Scooter, BMW Concept C and OpelRak-eare expected to hit the market by 2012.

Micro-Mobility- An Emerging Solution to an Existing Problem

The cost of congestion globally is denting various economies. In Europe it nearly tripled from 63 Billion Euros in 2006 to 200 Billion Euros in 2011. In North America it is not far behind with $100 Billion tag attached to it. Almost all major cities in Asia, including China and India, suffer from traffic related chaos every day. Asabove numbers are expected to touch new peaks in this decade and governments and societies prepare to combat congestion and traffic related issues, OEMs globally have also assumed responsibility to introduce a newform of mobilityand put an end to this woe.

As passenger cars are largely used by commuters globally for their daily commutes, Micro-Mobility solutions have started to offer an alternate to this daily commuting. For instance, in Europeit exists as quadricycles like the Reva G-Wiz and Aixam Megacity, in the United States as low-speed vehicles (LSVs)like GEM e2 and Tomberlin Emerge2, and in Asia as kei-cars like the Takeoka Milieu R and Suzuki Alto.By 2010, global audience have started to witness the emergence of entirely new category of vehicles gaining growing popularity such asthose like Mik Go Green Noble, GreenTechMycar, Renault Twizy, Gordon Murray T.27 vehicles which are neither quadricycles, LSVs oreven kei-cars. The automotive industry has classified them as emerging segments and classified them as Sub-A vehicles in Europe, the medium-speed vehicles (MSVs) in the United States and the micro-kei-cars in Japan.Currently it is comparably small in terms of size as well as in volumes. By 2013, it is expected to grow steadily attracting a niche segment of end users. Mass adoption like conventional cars and bikesis expected to start by 2015.

OEMs Target the Micro-Mobility Space to Compete with Models like Segway i2

What started with Segway LLC as a Personal Transporter in 2001 has evolved into a promising segment. Frost & Sullivan in its recently concluded study titled "Strategic Analysis And Benchmarking Of Global OEMs Micro-Mobility Solutions" has captured this extensively. In over a decade,the number of models is expected to cross more than 150 including more than 110 of them from passenger car OEMs. These Micro-Mobility modelsare targetedat both short-distance (1-15 miles) and city commuters (40-45 miles) evident from the range of vehicle speeds and driving range shown in chart 1.2

Chart 1.2 Micro-MobilityMarket: Comparative Analysis, Global, 2011–2018

                                                                              Source: Frost & Sullivan analysis

As a number of these models shown above are targeted to be commercially available by 2015 with different combinations of speed and range, the entire Micro-Mobility solutions is perceived high by key global passenger car manufacturers as well as other automakers.

China Pitched to be Key Launch Market Followed by Europe for Expansion

Automakers including Segway, Piaggio and Yamaha and passenger car OEMs like General Motors (GM), Ford, VW, Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Geely and even Lexus target Asia and especially China before 2013. An expansion into Europe before 2015 is expected to boost sales.Asia has appealed OEMs because of its densely populated megacities like Shanghai. A country like China also bans use of conventional engine powered bikes which have been another driver for Micro-Mobility. Another reason being eco cities like Tianjin in China are being created with integration of entirely new DNA / homologation type of mobility.

OEMs Perceive Differently with Different Models for Different Occasions / Purposes

As one model doesn't fit everyone, a lot of these Micro-Mobility models target daily commutesof different individual including models like the one-wheeled Ryno-bike which targets the urban youth, two-wheeled Suzuki e-Lets which also targets goods and service-delivery personnels, the three-wheeled T3Motion's ESV targets patrolling personnel. Another three-wheeled model the Toyota i-swing and the four-wheeled Honda EV-Monpaltargets the aged urban and mobility impaired drivers.

Micro-MobilitySolutions are Here to Sustain

Micro-Mobility models expected to be intelligent, foldable and more importantly electric. Key five passenger car OEMs like VW, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, GMhave already invested an average of $40 million each to develop Micro-Mobility solutions. While VW's e-Scooter is targeted to offer a sustainable renting system in megacities like China, its bik.e is targeted to replace sparetires while offering last mile connectivity. Models like the GM'sElectric Networked-Vehicle (EN-V)helps ease parking space identification, collision avoidance and so on using a smart telematics backbone.Several models like Ford e-bike,BMW Pedelecsare even targeted to encourage driving on pedestrian paths or even in dedicated lanes aiding faster and economical commutes over use of passenger cars. It is not only the business models and regulations which is expected to attract huge interests from among the masses, but also a variety of vehicle powertrains (five - as shown in chart 1.1), wheel types (four, as shown in chart 1.1), steering options (four - Steering wheel, handle-bar, joystick or touch pad), foldability (foldable or stackable / non-foldable) and motor types (normal / in-wheel) which is expected to drive sales.

For instance, German OEMs like VW, Audi, Daimler and BMW expected to show a strong tendency to use alternate engines which can run on fuel cells and even on hybrid engines. Models like the VWbik.e, BMW x-bike, PSA RD3, Piaggio Tridacna, Honda Town Walker, Nissan OneOne are foldable or stackable. 12 out of 16 global passenger car OEMs have also integrated in–wheel motors to aid ease of parking and also providing the desired degree of freedom including zero turning radius. Passenger car OEMs are also entering into various partnerships, other automakers, suppliers and even rival passenger car OEMs as development / technology partners in this market. For instance, GM (passenger car OEM) has partnered with Segway LLC (key non-passenger car OEM) to boost chassis development for the EN-V, Suzuki (passenger car and bike OEM) has partnered with Sanyo (supplier) e-Let's battery packs and so on.


Irrespective of country of production and market of sale,82 models like GM Rak-e, Renault Twizy, Audi Urban Concept, Citroen E3POD target city commuters and another 30 models like Nissan Mori Scooter, Honda u3-x, Toyota Winglet, Hyundai Eccov, BMW Pedelec target last mile connectivity. About 70 models like VW Nils, BMW 2015 based, Peugeot 360, Piaggio NT3,Suzuki Q-Concept are close-top models and another 50 models like VW Kickstep, BMW Halbo, Toyota Mobiro, Suzuki Burgmanbeing open-top models.

Overall, each of the OEMs to launch on the broad lines thatMicro-Mobility models target to attract passenger car users with its close-top models and motorocycle/bike users with its open-top models to fight growing changes of urbanization.