• Madani Sahari

Technologies and innovation in urban mobility

Just this week, Britain’s Department for Transport published its Future of Mobility Urban Strategy, detailing out the government’s principles in approaching the numerous emerging transportation technologies and facilitating innovation in urban mobility.

The announcement paves the way for the required regulatory framework and strategic roadmaps that include new technologies, business models, talent requirements and vehicular modes of the future – which include vehicle types that were previously not part of the transport legal framework such as electric scooters.

The emerging trends and technologies in today’s transportation must be analysed and responded to by all countries in order for them to remain competitive.

In a nutshell, the future of mobility requires strategies in technology development (or adoption), legal framework, business development, talent pool establishment and infrastructure planning in the areas of electrification, shared mobility services and vehicle autonomy.

While electrification of transportation is a potential solution to fossil fuel dependence, it is important to stimulate public demand, primarily on the awareness of fuel limitations, environmental preservation as well as the overcoming of range anxiety. However, from a governance standpoint, it is also important to manage the infrastructure and power grid requirements for meaningful electrification to take place.

Autonomous driving has a different set of challenges. While traditional products may proceed through the industrial revolution, seen through advanced robotics, big data management, additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 related technologies – product design and business models have to change to include a higher degree of advanced electronics, sensory and connectivity.

This means that design efforts for traditional vehicle manufacturing – powertrains, safety and comfort equipment, body and painting, etc – become only half of the process, as the connectivity and intelligence of not only the vehicle but also the environment and infrastructure that surrounds it must undergo major rethinking in order to have the necessary ecosystem to propel the transportation economy into the future marketplace.

Fortunately, Malaysia’s participation in the shared mobility economy has taken strides equal to trends around the globe – thanks mostly to growth in the country’s information technology sector as well as public participation and demand.

While some popular ride-hailing apps can trace its roots in Malaysia, the Malaysian public has also shaped the demand for disruptive technologies in this area.

While legal frameworks are currently evolving to meet new public transportation challenges, it still remains a classic case on how public demand can incentivise the change at the upstream level as well as business cases that must cater to them.

Therefore, the major challenge for the meaningful inclusion in future mobility is the significant transformation of the entire value chain – more importantly, the precise management of consumer demand.

While governance and business models are constantly being transformed to cater to the demands, efforts that spur public demand in the areas above cannot be undermined.

It is for this very reason the Malaysia Autoshow continues its tradition of a mobility display at the show, breaking away from the tradition of a pure vehicle showcase seen in motoring shows around the world.

While there will be a strong showing of latest vehicles from the world’s brands, the MARii (Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute) Mobility Hall will narrate the entire value chain of the automotive and mobility sector from upstream to downstream.

Visitors will catch a glimpse of the latest technologies and understand what boils underneath the industry in vehicle design, manufacturing and after-sales operations – most importantly the efforts and mindset of the people behind them.

From a business standpoint, it is important to know market demands and respond to them.

However, part of the government’s business is to assist the industry in creating market demands to allow businesses to thrive, and create the necessary jobs to further spur the economy.

For this reason, the Malaysia Autoshow is an important agenda for both the government and the industry.

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