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City mobility: shared, small, smart and powered by hydrogen

New city mobility will reduce traffic jams, accidents and pollution, improving the quality of life for citizens and creating business opportunities


The major conceptual shift in shared mobility is that many users will transition from being drivers to being passengers

Cities are some of our biggest polluters – and one-third of their pollution is caused by transportation. Traffic jams, parking problems, high-polluting engines, unreliable public transport. The mismatch between user needs and what is offered means our mobility is ripe for a revolution.


In a new report, Intesa Sanpaolo’s Innovation Center finds the future of mobility in cities is shared, small and smart.  Aided by the development of clean hydrogen, future mobility will make our cities easier to get around, safer and less polluting.


Shared mobility


We’re already familiar with shared mobility on our city streets, whether that’s short-term car rental, ride-hailing, bike or scooter hire or peer-to-peer car-sharing. Shared transport is already making an impact, but there’s room for even further growth.

Mobility-as-a-Service sees the integration of all shared transport modes into a single, intuitive smartphone app that offers time efficiencies for customers and pools usage data, enabling the growth of demand-responsive transport shuttles that operate on optimised routes. 

The major conceptual shift in shared mobility is that many users will transition from being drivers to being passengers.

In the short term, existing providers are looking to extend their geographic reach, as well as develop new purpose-built vehicles equipped for the demands of the sharing economy.

In London, ride-hailing app FREE NOW joined with HumanForest, Dott and TIER Mobility to provide a fleet of 3,000 dockless e-bikes. Meanwhile Sixt, a car-rental company, has created an on-demand ride-hailing service in the UK via its Jyrney integration.

In the medium term, electrification will further impact carbon-emissions reduction. Long term, artificial intelligence and machine learning will both generate efficiencies and eventually assist in the creation of autonomous vehicles.

Shared mobility solutions could account for 29% of the modal transport mix in Europe by 2050, while private car use will fall from 38% to 26% of the overall total. Public transportation is forecast to decline only slightly, from around one-quarter of the mix to around one-fifth.


Small mobility


Where cars are to be used in cities, models will necessarily be smaller, to impact parking space and congestion issues.

Enter the micro car, a low-speed, energy-efficient pod-like vehicle, tipped to see uptake from vehicle-sharing providers in the near future.

The market for micro is in its nascent stages. Japan is currently the largest micro-mobility market, although even there it is still modest, with the top 10 models accounting for combined sales of 806,377 in 2022.

In 2022, the domestic Japanese market saw 37 microcar models on sale, up by two from 2021.

As microcar uptake expands beyond Japan and into Europe, this efficient mode of transport will support a wide range of business solutions, from the urban delivery of groceries to equipment transfers.


Smart mobility


With so many of us moving around our cities daily, it’s important that we don’t stop at rethinking what we travel in, but also rethink the systems we travel along.

Intelligent transportation solutions (ITSs) control traffic flow and provide information to travellers by analysing data from GPS, vehicles, infrastructure and drivers’ smartphones.


The surge in volumes of data across ITSs means data-management systems need to be updated. Overall, the global intelligent-mobility systems market is valued at $27.5 billion and expected to reach $35.6 billion by 2025.

ITSs are the tools used by local and national governments to improve air quality and provide a sustainable transport infrastructure. The European Commission, for example, in 2019 assigned $90.4 million for road ITSs that would reduce traffic congestion.

5G will speed up carbon reduction in the near future by enabling tools such as smart traffic lights. Sensor technology will also revolutionise roadway systems, both by checking vehicle health and enabling the collection of toll charges without vehicles having to stop.


Artificial Intelligence will eventually allow these systems to become truly intelligent. This should mean fewer accidents on the roads, as well as shorter journey times and lower emissions.




While electrification will power most city mobility, hydrogen is emerging as an efficient way to store electricity generated through sustainable solar and wind.

Hydrogen fuel cells will soon be used in mobility and there are immense growth opportunities worldwide for fuel-cell transit buses and coaches.

The next two to five years will see a host of new participants enter the market while the established players develop their positions.

China is at the forefront of hydrogen and fuel-cell technology with a framework for large-scale adoption set out in its 14th Five-Year Plan.

Here three “hydrogen corridors” have been designed to drive the adoption of more than a million fuel-cell vehicles by 2030, while 10 Chinese cities are developing hydrogen technology for public transport.

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