// . //  Insights //  The Evolving Mobility Landscape

In a new book by Oliver Wyman managing partner and co-head of Europe, Gilles Roucolle, called Transformations in Mobility: Trends, disruptions and the future of mobility and transportation published by UK-based Kogan Page, the author shares expert insights on how the transportation industry will be changing in the future.

Digital technology represents an increasingly critical enabler for transport operators, helping them navigate complex and increasingly fragmented value chains. It integrates components that were disjointed, coordinates various modes, and helps predict demand and capacity availability. Digital technology thus makes possible new customer propositions, improves the end‑to‑end experience, and reduces costs. It presents an opportunity to improve service levels and economics by bridging the gap from legacy infrastructure and operators to new services. Ride‑hailing and car sharing, on the passenger side, are not conceivable in a world without apps or internet — and services such as car rental and cabs reserved by phone have existed for decades. But apps make it far easier to dynamically manage inventory and bookings, and shared cars make use of onboard computers to record distance and time traveled and thus calculate the price of a trip in real time.

The global ride-hailing and taxi market is expected to almost double from its 2020 level to $347 billion in 2030, according to Oliver Wyman Forum analysis. Car sharing is forecast to more than triple, to $24 billion
Exhibit 1: Ride-hailing and car rental lead a selection of new mobility services
Global value pool sizes by mobility service
Source: Oliver Wyman Forum mobility value pool analysis

Freight and parcels are also poised for a digital revolution. However, today, some of the world’s most profitable transport operations may be found in parts of the North American Class I freight railroad industry, which earn their cost of capital or more, through a competitive yet oligopolistic ecosystem. They can thus re‑invest billions of dollars annually in their networks to remain a vital backbone of the North American economy and trade. (See Exhibit 2.)

Exhibit 2: Class I railroads were resilient during COVID
Class I stock price performance indexed (Index: Base 1.0 in January 2015)
Source: Publicly available stock price data and Oliver Wyman analysis

In the future, autonomous‑driving technology will let digitally connected trucks travel in combined fleets, increasing their freight density and reducing freight railroads’ current cost advantage to motor carrier driver costs. That, plus the ability to serve point‑to‑point freight movements, could help trucks take market share from the currently profitable Class I railroads, especially in highly contested merchandise and intermodal segments.

The mobility sector is still just scratching the surface of digital technology’s potential, especially in integrating legacy and new service providers, increasing and taking advantage of automation, and responding to customer demands. The sources of value are continuing to shift.

The number of mobility startups increased 15% a year between 2007 and 2017, and in 2020 they attracted investment of $40 billion

The world’s top technology firms, post‑pandemic, are continuing to invest billions of dollars in mobility and autonomy projects, suggesting greater innovations in the years to come.

How the net-zero transition might change transportation modal shares

Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the energy sector, representing around a fifth of the global total, and all modes of transport are under pressure to decarbonize. But the shift will be uneven, raising questions: Will the energy transition simply mean a switch to new kinds of motor? Or will it also benefit those modes of transport that transform fastest?

The adoption of electric cars has been slowed by their price and the need for recharging infrastructure. But a push from regulators — especially in Europe — is expected to help them replace fossil‑fuel vehicles in the coming decade or two. In rail, diesel is still used on 45% of Europe’s network, but it will be replaced by electrification and alternatives: Battery‑powered trains can now travel about 100 km on a single charge, and hydrogen‑based fuel‑cell locomotives up to 1,000 km.

But air and sea travel are still highly dependent on fossil fuels and hard to electrify, due to the weight of batteries needed to power large vessels and aircraft over long distances. Air travel, in particular, is extremely carbon‑intensive, and there are often lower‑emitting substitutes available — sea transport in the case of freight and high‑speed rail for some passenger routes.

That’s already having an impact, at least in Europe. The French government has prohibited passenger flights on routes with few long‑haul connections and where the equivalent rail trip is under about 2.5 hours. That has ended domestic point‑to‑point air traffic from Paris Orly Airport to Nantes and Bordeaux. Generation Z are highly sustainability conscious, and recent Oliver Wyman Forum research suggests that many would swap air travel for a longer journey by electric train. Further impact could come if carbon regulations raise the cost of flying.

Aviation has a rich history of technology innovation. Aircraft manufacturers have improved the aerodynamics and reduced the weight of aircraft, significantly cutting energy consumption. But these efficiency gains are not yet nearly enough to reduce the sector’s total emissions: Global traffic has been doubling every 15 years, a trend that is expected to be maintained.

While airlines have agreed to achieve net zero by 2050, a sustainable solution requires new technologies and alternative fuels, which are not yet in commercial use. The first electric aircraft will emerge before the end of 2025, but they will be limited in capacity and range. Fuel cells face questions over commercial viability: Hydrogen is expensive to produce, transport, and store, and it is also highly inflammable.

One way forward, practitioners suggest, could be an expanded R&D plan for alternative fuels and aircraft design, which would likely need substantial government funding. The administration of US President Joe Biden called in 2021 for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production of 3 billion gallons a year by 2030, to reduce aviation emissions by 20%. The EU wants 20% of fuels used at its airports to be SAFs by 2035. In the meantime, some long‑haul freight might shift to the sea, while passengers increasingly take trains. (See Exhibit 3.)

Exhibit 3: Renewables expected to overtake unabated coal as main source of electricity by 2030
Global electricity supply, in TWh per year

Insights into the future of transportation

The book Transformations In Mobility provides a panoramic overview of the changing mobility business landscape, helping transportation leaders and consultants make sense of the most important trends, challenges and opportunities impacting this sector.

Drawing on exclusive interviews from 30 of the most important leaders, experts, and financiers in transportation spanning all modes and from around the world, the book delves into the practical lessons learned from a demand, regulatory, strategic, technology, and leadership perspective and explores the way mobility might evolve in the future. It looks into pressing issues such as fragmentation of demand in mobility, technological disruptions impacting the sector and how far it is possible to decarbonize transport when it is the world's second biggest source of emissions.

Drawing on cutting-edge insights, this book explores mobility’s shift from supply-driven to demand-driven growth, the role of regulation and standards, digitalization, the emergence of cross-industry coalitions and the decarbonization agenda and its impact on future transport shares. It offers insightful stories and lessons learned from some of the world’s leading industry experts, including some never heard before. It also features exciting case studies such as European Rail Signalling Systems ERTMS and Class 1 Freight Railways in North America.

Read unique ‘from the cockpit’ insights from 30 leaders and experts who have managed more than 80 enterprises generating over €500 billion in combined revenues
Gilles Roucolle, Managing Partner, Co-Head of Europe, Oliver Wyman

Decoding Transport’s Future in "Transformations In Mobility"


When the COVID crisis hit, we in the airline community did our job. We aligned most carriers and closed down airline operations in four days
Alexandre de Juniac, Senior Advisor in the Transportation and Services practice at Oliver Wyman, former President and CEO of Air France KLM, and former Director General of IATA
The most difficult factor to predict is not technology evolution and innovations, but rather future customer behavior
Adrian Slywotzky, former Senior Partner at Oliver Wyman, management consultant and business book author
Competition has been a real trigger for incumbents to modernize
Barbara Dalibard, President of the Supervisory Board at Michelin, former CEO of SITA, and former CEO of Voyages SNCF
Mobility is an essential need for human beings, and this is pretty stable in space and time
Xavier Huillard, Chairman and CEO of Vinci
Future rounds of funding might be challenging 40 years down the road
Tai Chong Chew, President of Global Business Operations at Arup