What does the future of mobility look like?

11 Jul 2023

Image: © Solveig/Stock.adobe.com

Electric vehicles, micromobility options and self-driving cars are being adopted more frequently, though some have an easier path than others.

As technology advances and the push to reduce emissions grows, new milestones are being reached in various types of transport worldwide.

Various ambitious start-ups are working to lay the infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) to shine, while regulation is moving toward a future where self-driving vehicles take to the world’s highways.

In Ireland, long-awaited regulation for e-scooters was signed into law last month, giving hope for the various mobility companies eying the Irish market, though these e-scooters have faced hurdles in other parts of Europe.

In April, consultancy company McKinsey shared a report which suggests many people are open to shifting their current forms of transportation to new options in the future.

With so many different types of mobility on the horizon, let’s take a look at some of the key forms that look set to take a leading role in the future.


The McKinsey analysis claims that – unsurprisingly – private cars remained the most popular form of mobility worldwide last year, being the most popular for roughly 45pc of people.

Combined with a growing focus on curbing emissions worldwide, it seems likely that the use of EVs will continue to grow and have an important place in future mobility. A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) claimed that global electric car sales jumped by 40pc in 2020, despite the struggles facing the automotive industry at the time.

This growth has continued since 2020, with the IEA expecting a 35pc increase in sales for 2023 after a “record-breaking 2022”.

In anticipation for rising demand, many companies are working to install EV charge points across Ireland. Earlier this week, start-up Go Eve raised £3m in seed funding to expand the production of its charging technology called DockChain.

In May, Smartzone announced plans to install 25,000 EV chargers for homes across Ireland by 2025. These chargers will be supported by Monta, which has developed its own platform to let users manage and set up charge points.

Earlier that month, Belfast start-up Weev received a pledge of up to £50m to install and maintain thousands of EV charging points over the next five years.

Looking overseas, the Irish-founded company Jolt Energy recently raised €150m to expand its charging network across Europe and North America.


While private cars will likely remain a dominant form of transport into the future, the McKinsey report predicts that this will decline in the coming years.

“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,” the report said.

In this report, 30pc of respondents said they plan to increase their use of micromobility over the next decade, while 46pc said they would be open to replacing their private vehicles with other forms of transport.

A batch of micromobility companies have spread across Europe in recent years, with many bringing their fleets of e-bikes to Ireland. Estonian start-up Bolt recently raised the number of e-bikes available in its Sligo and Kilkenny fleets, bringing the total in each town to 100 and 80 respectively.

Other start-ups like Voi and Zeus have been eyeing the Irish market for years, hoping to hit the roads with their e-scooters once regulation allows for it.

But e-scooters have faced legal troubles in Europe. In April, Paris voted to ban rental e-scooters from its streets after many raised concerns the battery-operated devices were unsafe as a mode of transport and causing a nuisance on the roads.

“It’s very expensive – five euros for 10 minutes – it’s not very sustainable, and above all, it’s the cause of a lot of accidents,” city mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters at the time.

According to figures from An Garda Síochána released last month, there have been 16 collisions involving e-scooters in Ireland which resulted in either a fatality or serious injury since the beginning of the year.

Self-driving tech

Advances in technology have given hopes to a future where self-driving cars become a reality on our roads. As a result, regulators have taken steps to prepare for their arrival.

Last year, the UK revealed planned changes to its highway code to pave the way for fully self-driving cars to hit the roads. By July 2022, the EU revealed it was working on technical rules that would allow 1,500 fully driverless vehicles per car model to be registered and sold in a member state each year.

Companies like Finnish self-driving tech company Sensible 4 have been testing these vehicles in extreme and dramatically changing weather conditions, while autonomous taxi-services have been tested in parts of the US.

But this form of future mobility continues to have a bumpy journey. Last year, an activist hedge fund urged Alphabet to pull the brakes on its ‘Other Bets’ division, which includes autonomous vehicle company Waymo.

The hedge fund claimed enthusiasm for self-driving cars had “collapsed” and noted that Ford and Volkswagen made the decision to pull the plug on their self-driving car ventures.

Cruise, the self-driving car business owned by General Motors, suffered a hit to its driverless taxi service last year, when a swarm of its self-driving vehicles blocked several lanes of traffic at a San Francisco intersection for hours.

The Verge reports that city leaders are sharing concerns about robotaxi troubles, ahead of a vote that could see Cruise and Waymo offer a 24/7 robotaxi service in San Francisco.

But while self-driving technology is having some setbacks, the McKinsey report claims technology advances could see a rise in the use of roboshuttles and “urban air taxis”.

The report predicts that – in terms of the most popular form of mobility – new forms of transport such as self-driving robotaxis will grow from 1pc last year to 8pc by 2035.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic