Guest Post: In Shaping the Future of Mobility, Convenience, Reliability Still Key

Jun 24, 2016 12:15 AM ET
Blog

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra has said the automotive industry will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50. Here’s some proof just from our operations. Since January, GM has made four major mobility announcements: an investment in Lyft, the launch of our car-sharing brand Maven, the acquisition of Cruise Automation and launch of the Express Drive rental hubs with Lyft.

But the automotive industry isn’t the only one feeling and reacting to a transformation. At the BlueGreen Alliance Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, I talked with an assorted group of people to discuss shaping innovative mobility and the future of transportation. Panelists included an urban planner from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Urban Solutions Program and a director from the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Our diverse backgrounds led to a robust discussion on the future of personal mobility, safety concerns relating to new mobility options, opportunities to improve public transit, and planning urban centers. We all agreed there is a shifting tide. Some are more apt to jump in the backseat of a shared vehicle, while others find comfort in the navigational experience of a unionized transportation provider. Still many depend on a personal vehicle. And there will likely be regional preferences. 

Here are some takeaways from that conversation:

  • A mix of innovations gives customers the best result, but stakeholders need to work together to help determine positive outcomes.
  • Convenience and reliability of transportation remain the major underpinnings of effective mobility; individuals are not really prepared to give up creature comforts.
  • Integrated services allow for better, safer, cleaner and more affordable transportation. Thinking through the intersection of these challenges is complex, but essential to delivering personalized solutions.

Peter Kosak, GM’s executive director of Urban Mobility Programs, says that, “connectivity is the ether through which many of these programs flow.”  I echoed this statement, highlighting that GM has been the most connected car company for 20 years thanks to its OnStar platform. Cars are their own data miners now, collecting analytics that can report vehicle issues before they become a problem.

Plus, connecting vehicles with other vehicles or surrounding infrastructure will pave the way for what could be a driverless future altogether.

Some people are worried about what an autonomous future might mean. At lunch, a conference attendee asked if I thought an autonomous future was really possible. “I can’t imagine it,” the gentleman said.  I offered a couple ideas: helping people make it to their doctor appointments, or granting aging parents the freedom of mobility and preventing their children from having to take away their keys. I believe there are still unprecedented opportunities on the horizon and a lot of questions yet to be answered … or even considered.

While the industry continues to undergo unprecedented change, we strive to lead with products and services that serve our customers and ultimately strengthen communities. GM remains committed to immersing ourselves throughout the mobility experience to bring personalized, reliable and convenient personal transportation options and access to people around the world.

For more information on the BlueGreen Alliance and the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, visit GreenJobsConference.org or follow #GJGJ2016 on Twitter for conference highlights.

Alex Keros is the manager of vehicle and advanced technology policy at General Motors.