As Lyxor launches a new range of thematic ETFs that follow the megatrends reshaping society and the economy, “Mobility Revolution” expert Lukas Neckermann discusses how megatrends are driving us towards greater urbanisation and “Smart Cities” despite the Covid-19 health crisis.
What are the megatrends leading us to the “Mobility Revolution”?
The sustained trend towards urbanisation, the urgency of climate change, rapid digitalisation in all aspects of our lives, changing demography and the birth of a new sharing mindset, have profound implications for mobility. These trends are pushing us from a model of car ownership to usership and encouraging electrification. They are accelerated by the connectivity we all have with our smartphones, and the rapid growth of on-demand mobility services, and soon, autonomous mobility.
It’s not a question of reinterpreting the car industry, it’s a whole new industry that comes with a new value chain. This value chain includes new technologies, new manufacturing models, new data and software systems, a different approach to fleet management, an ever-growing number of mobile services, and mobility aggregators.
Will the current health crisis accelerate the impact of these megatrends?
Any crisis has a cleansing effect on business models that don’t work, or never had a good enough path to profitability to survive. A number of companies and mobility projects have not survived, such as General Motors’ Maven car sharing service. We have also seen significant struggles for micro-mobility operators, such as the scooter companies that were growing unsustainably before the crisis.
But we are also seeing success through innovation. Companies like Uber, Grab and Lyft are speeding up the expansion of their business models with new services such as food delivery and medical delivery. With this, they will partly even compete with logistics companies. There has also been an accelerated rollout of autonomous delivery.
Cities are also changing for the better. Cities like Paris have accelerated the creation of new bike lanes. And especially in Europe, cities are embracing the crisis to create new open spaces for pedestrians.
Will Covid-19 put the brakes on the trend towards greater urbanisation?
The overall long-term trend of urbanisation will continue. It’s been shown that urban density does not enhance the spread of Covid-19. Even in cities that have been hit hard, such as New York, the densest areas were not the ones that suffered the greatest impact.
And when it becomes clearer that cities – and particularly smart cities – are safe, and continue to be highly desirable places to live, after a limited downward shift in property values, they will recover.
Cities recover because they serve our needs. They give us better access to healthcare, they offer culture, and they are places where we can socialise. This human element is vital. A smart city is only smart if it serves the people who live there, which is why Quality of Life is such an important determinant in the acceleration of this megatrend.