Blog post -
Liberate the city, the people and the environment – start sharing!
This week it’s Car Free Day and M Volvo Car Mobility's one year anniversary. It’s an excellent opportunity to stop and reflect on our behavior, and improvements in alternatives to private car ownership. How are we proceeding, all of us working toward a future that is greener and more vibrant – where cars aren’t the norm. Where alternative modes of travel and mobility are more convenient, smarter and better.
The mobility challenge is one of the most important issues facing cities worldwide. The urbanization trend remains strong and figures suggest that, by 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Workable alternatives to private car ownership would generate massive gains in both reimagined space as well as for the environment. This is not in dispute. Today in Sweden, for example, one in two people have a car which sits idle at least 95 percent of the time. Urban car ownership takes up time, money and space that can be used better. It’s not sustainable.
Better digitalization creates new opportunities to offer people mobile sharing services, too. Services that originate from real needs and which are, in many cases, more economical and sustainable than owning your own car. A shared car can replace five privately owned cars. By leveraging the sharing economy, we hasten the behavioral change that builds sustainable cities.
In the long run, it will make us all reevaluate our ideas about city spaces and what we could do about the areas that emerge when there are fewer cars on our streets. This is something that we at M are passionate about. Right now, we are working together with Voi, The City of Stockholms, The Swedish Transport Agency and the ArkDes Think Tank on the innovation project Street Moves. The project, which is financed by Vinnova, has developed modules which can easily transform parking spaces into social hubs for people featuring greenery, spaces for play, sitting areas and parking for bicycles and electric kick bikes. The first pilot street has already been created in Stockholm. The project is also an important forum where we together can explore and understand how cities can use parking spaces for other purposes.
One year after the launch of M, we see clearly that we are in the middle of a big transformation. We have not only welcomed a hundred thousand users, but also new competitors to the market. The competition makes the services better and helps to resolve the bigger societal issues faster. The importance of this is highlighted by Klas Eklund, chair of Sweden’s Restart Commission, when he says that transport infrastructure, electrification, green energy and digitalization is all interconnected.
Together, we all have the ability to drive change by using mobility solutions that are smarter, more convenient and more efficient. Where people and cities aren’t organized around the car, but the other way around. Or progressive business clients are showing the way. Step by step, they are shifting from car fleets to car sharing, which is more flexible, greener and cost-efficient. We have to ensure that the mobility of the future doesn’t jeopardize our climate or quality of life. Embracing the sharing economy is an important part of the solution.
Therese Ahlström Brodowsky
CEO, M | Volvo Car Mobility Sweden