Despite the fact that mobility is one of the hottest technology sectors around, our roadways are more congested than ever. With 1.3 billion vehicles in use worldwide, almost every country is feeling the pain and drivers waste an average of 87 hours in traffic in Munich and 119 hours in Los Angeles annually (prepandemic).1 Private car ownership remains high in many regions, with 868 vehicles per capita in the United States, 635 in Norway, and 391 in Mexico. China has a mere 219 vehicles per capita, but that accounts for over 300 million vehicles on the road. The rise of ride-sharing services has not yet decreased private-vehicle ownership in many countries. In a recent McKinsey analysis, private cars are used in 45 percent of all trips—outpacing public transport, micromobility (consisting of scooters and bikes—some electric—and other small vehicles), ridesharing, ride hailing, and walking.2
This legacy of private car congestion does more than frustrate people. It also encourages developers to build garages, and encourages public officials to install more parking spaces, gobbling up scarce, valuable urban land that could otherwise be devoted to parks or other amenities. The United States, one of the most car-dependent countries, now has eight available spots for every car.3 The expansion of roadways and related infrastructure also forces governments to spend more on maintenance and operations.4 And most critically, the high rates of private-car ownership are contributing to global warming.
Within the next decade, however, our mobility ecosystem will undergo a transformation not seen since the early days of the automobile—and one main shift will be the decline of private-car use. Governments are already enacting regulations to reduce the number of vehicles on the road to ease congestion and reduce emissions, and consumers are also voicing preferences for more efficient, green, and convenient transportation options. As technology advances, even more innovative mobility options could emerge, including roboshuttles (shared autonomous minibuses with 4 to 8 seats) or urban air taxis.
The result of all these changes? A mobility ecosystem that is more intelligent, seamless, and environmentally friendly.
Disruptive trends and technologies: The forces transforming mobility
Here’s a look at the disruptive trends that will shape the future of mobility and the impact that they will have worldwide.
Consumer preferences-and excitement about new options
The McKinsey Center for Future Mobility conducts an annual consumer survey that looks at four major trends: autonomous driving, electrification, connectivity, and shared mobility (ACES). In the 2022 consumer survey, many respondents were open to shifting their transportation habits. Consider a few findings:5
30% of respondents plan to increase their use of micromobility—for instance, e-bikes or e-scooters—or shared mobility over the next decade
46% of respondents are open to replacing their private vehicle entirely with other modes of transport in the coming decade
70% of respondents would use a shared autonomous shuttle with up to 3 other travelers; 42 percent of those trips would otherwise be taken by private vehicle
The desire for a more enjoyable mobility experience is behind many of these shifts. A quick trip on the subway reading a book often beats an hour behind the wheel in traffic, and cities that can offer that convenience might increase metro ridership. Sustainability concerns are also critical, with our consumer survey showing that 46 percent of respondents had already switched to more sustainable brands or products and that another 16 percent plan to make significant changes
Regulations for a better world
In 2020, the transportation sector accounted for about 20 percent6 of global greenhouse gas emissions, with 40 percent7 of the total coming from private cars. To promote greener transport, over 150 cities have implemented measures to curb private vehicle use, including those that increase awareness about emissions from private cars, limit the number of private cars in cities, or provide financial incentives to use more environmentally friendly mobility modes Some regional and national officials are enacting similar regulations Here’s a sampling of guidelines and incentives designed to promote sustainable transportation.
Emergence of new and sustainable technologies
Some new mobility trends and automotive technologies, especially leading-edge EV batteries, frequently make the headlines. Others are emerging more quietly but could have an equally significant effect on future mobility, although some may not exert their full impact for years.