The VEDECOM Tech team went to Rennes February 11, 2020 in order to evaluate an innovative autonomous experiment, deployed within the framework of the SAM project, associating the manufacturers Navya and EasyMile. Competition or positive collaboration? Discover the logbook of our visit.

The experiment includes two shuttles, from two different makers: Easymile and Navya. It allows users to have two experiences. Above all, this playground creates positive competition and potentially stimulates technological and service progress for industry and territories. 

A site conducive?? to the deployment of an autonomous shuttle service useful for real users 

Arriving in the morning at 9 am from Rennes station at the Beaulieu RU bus stop on line C4, it only takes us a few meters to reach the Beaulieu RU Etoile terminus of the shuttle service. On site, we immediately observe an inflow of pedestrians, mainly students, who move around the campus. The site therefore seems ideal for accommodating autonomous shuttles. These transport students to various points of interest from 7.45 am to 6.30 pm: university restaurants, a cultural center, a digital hub, schools and the administrative center. 

The means are there: 4 vehicles are deployed and provide a useful service: 6 stations on a 1.3 km route and with a waiting time that varies between 7 and 15 minutes. Moreover, the service gets a line number like the others regular lines: it is line 100 of Rennes city’s STAR network. We appreciate the integration of passenger information into the supports already in place: the website, the mobile application, the screens on board buses. 

This is one of the rare experiments in which we rub shoulders with “real” users: regulars who regularly get on a shuttle as in a traditional transport vehicle, without apprehension, often when it arrives at the right time, in the right place on their journey. However, these “real” users are still too few for our tastes. 

The comparative analysis of VEDECOM Tech, which is integrated into its benchmark of autonomous vehicle experiments 

What stood out for us: the quality of the operators’ welcome, which may seem paradoxical since in the long term the target wants there to be no more operators on board. And yet these operators, serene and freed from the stress of driving, make the journey pleasant. They smile, they have time to interact with users and watch over us. In the end, even if we could do without them, do we really want to do without these human interactions? Or is it an opportunity to offer new services or a new user-relationship approach? In the field, we spent the morning testing the two types of shuttles, and identified their differences. One offers users a smoother ride with smoother braking, while the other provides operators with a more convenient control station. We also sifted through technological ambition and user experience. How complex are the technological objectives of this experiment? What is the feedback from the point of view of passengers, residents and operators? An example is the real-time geolocation application, which allows users to anticipate and thus promotes use of shuttles. Our full report is available in our benchmark of autonomous vehicle experiments.

This benchmark allows you to understand the current state of the art and provides decision support in your project intentions, by highlighting good practices, opportunities and mistakes not to be made. To find out more: 

What levers for the retrofit market development ?

Give a brand new electric life to regular petrol engine vehicle to take part in the energy transition, an attractive idea ? The retrofit is for you ! This market is emerging in France but holds great promise. 

What is the retrofit ?

The retrofit is the transformation of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine into an electric motor vehicle. This is a good example of a circular economy: giving old cars that are still able to be used an “electric” life rather than buying a new electric car. Electric retrofitting of vehicles is authorized in 25 countries, some of which are European. In Italy, the United Kingdom and even in Germany, where the practice has been authorized for several years, the market remains a little known niche market. 

A responsible approach to participate in the energy transition 

The objective is to transform polluting vehicles and for the majority old ones (from 15 to 20 years minimum). However, there are also some limits to be respected: the power must not exceed the one displayed during the homologation and the size of the battery (from 100 to 300 km of autonomy) varies according to the size of the vehicle because of the weight (10 to 15% of overweight are tolerated per axle). 

For French people, the electric retrofit presents itself as an alternative to the purchase of an electric car, still far too expensive for many of them. Indeed, an electric car, in addition to its high price, requires investments which leave doubtful about the so-called long-term economy that manufacturers claim. The average price of a car retrofit is between € 10,000 for a small city car and up to almost € 50,000 for a collector vehicle. Different alternatives could quickly lower this cost, such as the industrialization of the retrofit and state subsidies. 

Towards a democratization of retrofit in France 

The practice of electric retrofitting on cars could soon be legalized in France. Indeed, the Orientation Law on Mobility (LOM), on air since the end of 2019, will open up the market. The homologation of converted cars will therefore be possible, with a relaxation of the law of 1954 which asked the car to be expertised by a Les Mines engineer. The implementation of the practice should be formalized in the coming months. 

In addition, an association, the AIRE (Actors in the Electric Retrofit Industry) was created to “make known to public authorities, the economic world and to a larger audience the multiple benefits of turning regular engines into electric”. 

Several companies are already showing interest in this promising market, such as Oscaro and the Mobivia group. The manager of Retrofuture, Arnaud Pigounides, has announced quantified targets which suggest the potential size of the market: 360,000 cars transformed in five years, or 1% of the car fleet. The turnover would be 5 billion euros and generate 40,000 jobs in France. 

An entire sector to set up 

The retrofit attracts enthusiasts and other owners of classic cars, determined to bring them into the clean energy era. It is positioned as an accelerator of the energy transition but for this it is necessary that an entire sector is set up: retrofiter, distributor, certifiers, financiers, raters, leaser …

Proof that the initiative is interesting: ADEME (French agency for environment and energy) has just put the subject on its agenda and Grenoble, always ahead in terms of innovation, will soon offer assistance with retrofit. 

Which business model for new mobility solutions?

A free service for users but not at a loss? Public transport experts will answer: impossible! Yet some people try it. When the content finances the container, there is a new way of looking at the future of new mobility solutions.

Can we finance the container with content? This is a real question that arises when we look at the economy of new mobility solutions.

New mobility is probably the most exciting aspect of the automotive and transport industry which is in transformation. On the other hand, if these two traditional sectors have economic models that seem to be set in stone, this is far from being the case for new mobilities.

The new mobility sector offers this particularity of presenting a very dynamic face: new uses, start-ups, surge of new solutions in urban centers, fundraising. Unfortunately, this dynamism also comes with numerous failures: actors who do not go beyond the first year, consolidation phenomena etc …

RIP for COUP, CITYSCOOT’s rival who left Paris market… just before the transport strikes…

Let’s remember the number of free floating bicycle operators, who have almost all deserted the markets of major European cities in the face of the astronomical cost of maintaining fleets of bicycles.

We can also mention Poolus, this Korean carpool application which is still on the verge of bankruptcy, after raising $ 18 million in funds and making 3.7 million trips. (source Koreantime.CO.KR)

The question of the business model has become fundamental if the sector wants to impose itself and really disrupt the game of traditional players.

We offer here 3 examples of business models that are of interest:

The first is very special, but it is still a curiosity. UBER makes its race free by promoting the PNL rap group. It was in April 2019 for the launch of the group’s latest Opus. Thus, a PNL option, available on the UBER booking application, made it possible to book a free race on the condition that you have listened to the latest PNL album, which was just released in stores … actually on the online platforms. An event, captive and hyper-targeted consumers, data collection: this is enough to balance the economic equation.

Our second example is precisely the anti Uber! At least, this is what Circuit claims, a new transport solution founded by two consultants and accelerated by BMW Mini in the United States. This solution, implemented in concert with American cities (San Diego), is composed as follows: a free service for users, 100% electric transport, an on-demand transport, on board salaried drivers, all funded initially by advertising revenue from on-board advertising panels. Focused on micro transit, it is relevant in a segment on which the other modes of transport are not positioned or are less efficient: the short distances of about 3 kilometers.

The last actor Wonka is Korean and it also uses on board advertising to finance the trips of individuals. Wonka does not have its own fleet but relies on the fleets of other rental companies, therefore they have no fixed costs. They propose an optimization tool for other rental companies and a free individual mobility tool for individuals.

Free floating scooters, the race to conquer Paris!

Public authorities must be actors in the development of new mobility solutions and not spectators. Paris launched a call for tenders on free floating scooters; it redistributed the cards and provided a glimpse of a service combining an efficient business model and service security.

We all know the term “snowball effect”: when a single event is the cause of a multitude of others. This is a common phenomenon in the new mobility sector and anyone has only to look at our streets to realize it. The arrival of Uber a few years ago and the profusion of VTC applications that exist now even generates the creation of aggregators of these applications to access to the best prices.

Scooters have not escaped this phenomenon. Since the installation of Lime in Paris in June 2018, the capital has seen the deployment of more than a dozen players of free-floating scooters and … almost half of them have already disappeared. How come? Operators of these services face two major constraints: a lack of economic performance and a legislative framework which is more and more constrained due to the operating abuses.

Many players have chosen to limit the quality of their scooters and therefore the costs associated with their purchase or production in order to meet the growing demand and deploy larger fleets of vehicles. What are the consequences of this strategy? It results in scooters that break down before generating the expected revenue (amortization over 115 days for an average life of 90 days according to a BCG study) and additional warehouse operating costs to repair and redeploy these vehicles. A scooter should be used a minimum of 5 times a day to be profitable ; today it is only used 2 times per day on average.

This service model was new and were lacking a legislative framework, the abuses quickly appeared: badly parked scooters, degraded scooters, circulation on the sidewalks without safety equipment at an average speed of 25 km / h, accidents… The need to supervise became mandatory, Paris city entity published a call for tenders on December 17th, 2019 to limit the number of operators to 3.

This announcement has already scared some players who do not wish to engage in such a concentrated market and who are shifting to other cities. For those still in the race, significant efforts are required: regulation of parking places, modification of the product such as the double brake for more security, obligation to have vehicles that are easier to maintain, recycling of used batteries…

We can see the influence of government decisions on the profitability of private actors. Indeed, the mayor of Paris will authorize 15,000 scooters in its streets, or 5,000 per actor. With more robust scooters, players will logically have more demand to satisfy and the opportunity may be to find an economic balance. We should also expect to see a significant increase in quality of service thanks to the standardization of safety rules and a race towards innovation to differentiate without a price war.

Maas, multimodality, territories and new mobility solutions: the “LOM” law has been adopted.

LOM law is finally effective. Needed to frame the dazzling development of new mobility solutions, it reveals a clear segmentation of these solutions; it impacts the territories as much as the companies and the operators of mobility.

Promulgated on December 24th, 2019 after numerous debates, the LOM Law is now effective. It integrates environmental issues to reform the general framework of mobility policies and to supervise the development of new mobility solutions. Some measures in this law are specific to some categories of mobility and highlight the segmentation required for the proper management of this constantly changing ecosystem.

Here are some measures and actors impacted:

  • The mobility organizing authorities (AOM) must now manage the setting up of multimodal information services on mobility services, whether public or private.

  • Opening up of transport service data and their ticketing systems: private companies will be able to sell transport services other than their own on their platforms. Multimodal information for users will be improved.
  • Flexibility in the autonomous vehicle sector by granting the government the power to reform this area by ordinance for 2 years. Two years in which the UN organization is expected to reform the Vienna Automobile Convention to facilitate the deployment of commercial autonomous vehicle services.

  • Subsidies for short-distance carpooling services and the possibility of reserving lanes for carpooling: already in place in certain regions (for example in Ile-de-France), the measure is being pushed to encourage the use this type of service and to increase the offer.

  • Implementation of the sustainable mobility solutions package for companies: the employer can refund up to € 400 per employee per year for the use of short-distance carpooling and shared mobility solutions.

  • Granting of a greater number of parking spaces reserved for carsharing vehicles

  • Regulation of free floating given to public entities, allowing them to manage the deployment of such services autonomously.

This law is a real boost for new mobility solutions and is clearly oriented towards MaaS and multimodal. It involves all stakeholders: territories and public entities, mobility operators, companies. This indicates a real awareness of the government somewhat forced by the development of these new types of mobility which were operated so far without a legal framework. It is now up to the concerned actors to apply these measures and find the relevant partners.

However it is not that easy. How can a company choose the most suitable carpooling service for its employees? Which actors should be included in a multimodal application for a territory? How to identify significant innovations and good practices of service for a mobility operator? The mobility sector is evolving quickly, it can be subject to growing needs (such as the ones created by the French strike in December 2019). These players sometimes have neither the time nor the resources to adapt to it.

Based on this observation, VEDECOM Tech has developed a decision support tool for these players: M’OBS. Through segmentation and an impartial assessment of mobility solutions, M’OBS provides a clear vision of the mobility ecosystem and of the players involved in a given area. M’OBS allows actors who will use it to make informed choices by having access to three types of analysis: comparison of solution categories based on sustainable development criteria, evaluation of actors based on their performance, evaluation of the user experience they offer. M’OBS is a 360° rating agency for new mobility solutions !

For more information, feel free to consult our website presenting the methodology of M’OBS:

Uber Ride Pass

Last summer, Uber launched a monthly subscription for $ 24.99, bringing together all of its services on a multimodal platform: Uber Ride Pass. This experiment takes place in San Francisco and Chicago. Already deployed for several months at a price of $ 14.99 per month in Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, Denver and Austin, the service has since been extended to twenty other American cities.

Here we find the pricing “Uber way” with a price varying according to several criteria: the city, the delivered services and customer use cases. Customer data is therefore at the heart of the development of this service. To recruit new subscribers, Uber Ride Pass guarantees access to blocked and reduced prices for its ride hailing service. The Ride Pass also gives access to 30 free minutes of bikes or Jump Scooters per day and free deliveries by UberEats. Available only in the city where it is purchased, this service claims to generate a 15% saving for the user on its monthly travel cost.

Which impact on the mobility market?

Volvo, Nike, Netflix: the subscription model has become massive and is adapted to multimodality. Access to a wide offer, customer loyalty, enhancement of the user experience, data recovery and fixed package price, all these features make its success!

With this offer, Uber clearly aims at being the leading private player in MaaS. It not only offers a single application but also the potential delivery of a single ticket or a single package. A strategy to finally rebalance its accounts, characterized by heavy investment, losses and an unprecedented confidence (until now) from its investors.

Intermodality has become essential in the design of mobility. The development of new mobility services must integrate this item upstream in the process and place the user at the center. As for business impact, MaaS allows two pricing models to coexist: subscription and pay-per-use billing, a clever way of addressing all needs. It presents many advantages: customer acquisition and loyalty, regular and predictable revenue … – but also technological challenges: management and harmonization of information flows, integration of pre-existing services …

Google Jobs Search launching

In June, Google launched its new job search service : Google Jobs Search. On top of the data from the major players in the job advertisement sector, Google leverages its assets (Maps) to enrich the job search, especially from the mobility perspective. As we know that the mobility item is one of the main job selection criteria, we can tell that once again Google shows a good nose in anticipating the future of job search…

What does it change for the employee?

Without further navigation, the candidate can instantly check the accessibility of the desired job in terms of mobility. Today, on most job search sites, we select the usual geographic criteria of country, region, department. But what if we could make soon our choice by precise mobility requirements such as « I want to commute by public transport within up to 1 hour, or by car within up to 30 minutes ». What if the offer of available and effective mobility becomes a search criterion?

In addition, Google makes sure to dedupe job offers. When published in several job boards, the job offer is displayed only once, with the mentions of publishing platforms. It is up to the candidate to choose which platform they wish to apply on. He saves his time and gets an optimized research.

What does that change for job advertisers?

From employers’ side, the process to appear in the Google tool is technically constraining but that’s the price to be indexed on Google. Indeed, they must add, in in the job offers, some semantic tags recognized by the standard (an internet reference of data structuring) such as location, contract type or salary. This represents an additional service for job boards and an additional cost for employers. This cost could be further increased if Google decide to apply its traditional auction system.

Some Google Job Search partner sites have seen their number of applications multiplied by up to 5 times. Google’s service is therefore efficient. However, this gives Google a central player position, which it already has in the field of search engines. Other competitors’ sites have said that their offers have been relegated very low in the search engine, since the launch of the feature. They gathered to write to Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition.

For the launch of the functionality, Google relies on major players in online recruitement in France such as Pôle emploi, Apec, HelloWork (RegionJob, ParisJob, JobiJoba…), Figaro Classifieds (Cadremploi, Viadeo…) , LinkedIn, Monster or Ouest-France Emploi.

For now, Google Job Search does not apply Google’s usual auction system to show bids first. Only paid links (AdWords) can appear above the space dedicated to offers. As with natural referencing, the order in which offers are displayed depends on how well the tags are filled. In particular, Google recommends to set the remuneration criterion and a precise localization.