I have seen the future and it needs work. This work will entail trying to figure out exactly what and how mobility in the future will be. Note the use of mobility as opposed to cars – that distinction at least is clear.
For the past five years the only certainty was that everything about mobility will change. Now all the predictions of what these changes will be and how fast they would happen have been blown out of the water by the upheaval of COVID. Hyundai’s Mobility Innovators Forum (MIF) is an annual event to chart the future of how we move, and the 2020 version will specifically try to cut through the new insecurity.
Think of the past decade and how things have changed in that time. In 2010 the world was still struggling in the turbulence of the Financial Crisis. The importance of global warming was well known, but the fight against it was considered too expensive and thus badly supported.
The developing world (in car terms) was developing fast, with China overtaking the USA in car sales and India becoming a major market as well. Both of these countries paid the price of massive traffic congestion and breath-taking pollution. It was clear that a car in every driveway was not the answer, and neither was the internal combustion engine.
The electric car was an oddity, underpowered, expensive, lacking in range and demand. There was a blip on the EV radar though – a thing called Tesla with a remarkable range. Established automakers shrugged it off – petrol, and at a pinch diesel, was king and horsepower ruled the roost. Your car and the way you used it was the same as the hundred years before, just better.
The first Hyundai MIF back in 2016 revolved around electric and autonomous vehicles. Electric was already a thing then, and self-driving was seen as the holy grail. The goal was not so much to allow the driver to watch TV as it was to create an EV/AV fleet that you can summon with your phone to take you to the station.
Over the next few years this conversation evolved to other kinds of mobility and to include the role and benefits of increased mobility in societies. So far so good. We knew things would change and it was interesting and informative to debate what these changes could entail.
Then 2020 happened and the world fell over.
We all experienced the pandemic and its effects first hand. But throughout the world tensions in touchpoints in societies – climate, ideology, economic, religion and race – were stretched and many broke. Firm ground turned to quicksand. The results were sometimes very visible, like the upheavals in the USA, sometimes more subtle. Coal is most likely dead and oil companies are massively writing down their fossil fuel assets. Societies are turning on their elites, demanding a greater share of a better life.
A major issue in any large society – think India, China, Indonesia, Brazil – is how people get around. So mobility as in Hyundai’s Mobility Innovators Forum. The 2020 MIF will discuss the now obvious missing pieces of the vision of future mobility and how technology can be scaled up effectively to satisfy the urgent demands of societies.
A safe guess would be that the future is electric and computing power will replace horsepower to define the status of the car. But you can get personal in-depth insight into the future of mobility by registering now for the Hyundai MIF 2020 virtual conference in late October. It will be fascinating to hear how the experts see the future unfolding.