Recently I’ve stumbled upon a post on Pinterest about vehicle designed for robo-taxis and car-sharing services, which caught my attention. The post was focused on the technological feature of the vehicle, but the comments from the public were interesting as they raised questions about the vehicle's range, price, availability, and financing options. The vehicle was also compared to a motorcycle in terms of spaciousness, safety, and utilitarianism. This made me think that intermediary vehicles can be viewed through different lenses.
Due to the intermediary nature and the absence of established standards and mental models, the public is often guided by associations from the automotive, motorcycle and bicycle sectors. Each industry has its unique applications and set of attributes and design languages that it emphasise based on the main purpose they serve. For example, family cars prioritise spaciousness, convenience, entertainment, and safety while off-road vehicles focus on ruggedness, durability, and clearance. Luxury vehicles showcase advanced technology, safety features, elegance, power, and detail, while economy vehicles emphasise affordability, reliability and efficiency. Cycling categories such as road cycling are designed for endurance, speed, distance and asphalt roads, mountain biking is adapted for rough terrain providing grip, shock absorption and stability and adrenaline, and BMX is perfect for performing tricks…
How Social Aspirations and Lifestyles Shape Vehicle Preferences
In addition to utilitarian and cultural associations, lifestyles aspect and social aspirations play a significant role in personal mobility. People often use their choice of vehicle as a means of expressing their social status or identity, whether consciously or unconsciously. Luxury cars are often associated with wealth and status, while eco-friendly vehicles represent a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. By understanding these social aspirations, new vehicles can not only meet functional needs but also appeal to consumers' desires for self-expression and social recognition.
By exploring these lenses, we can gain a deeper understanding of the different ideas people have about personal mobility. Materials, textures, details and elements such as tyres and wheels can have a substantial impact on a vehicle's overall appearance and feel, and it's crucial to be aware of these associations in the design process. By using this knowledge, innovative and successful vehicles can meet consumer needs and preferences, while also intentionally breaking established codes to introduce new ideas and stand out from the crowd.
The Intersection of Design, Functionality, and Pricing
The success of a product depends on various factors, including appearance, fit, usability, functionality, features, pricing, marketing, ideology and timing. While the appearance, fit, and usability of a product can capture the attention of potential customers and establish a good connection, it's important to note that these factors are not the only ones that contribute to a product's success.
The design of a product plays a crucial role in communicating its intended purpose and target audience, which can help establish a connection. Understanding the context in which the product is designed, including the needs and preferences of its users, is key to developing a product that resonates well with its intended audience. However, consumer behaviour and preferences can be unpredictable. For example, the Renault Twingo car was initially designed with young adults in mind but eventually became popular among elderly individuals.
Modularity and personalisation are also essential factors to consider when developing a successful product. By offering modular features, such as interchangeable parts or accessories, customers can personalise the product to their individual needs and preferences, creating a stronger emotional connection with the consumer.
💡 Tips to develop a successful product:
- Identify potential customers (individual, business-to-business, government consumers, institutional such as hospitals, universities, and non-profits, international...)
- Understand the context and gather feedback through research and experimentation.
- Ensure ease of use and a positive customer experience.
- Test the product in the market and refine it based on feedback.
- Continuously monitor and improve the product's performance.
- XD ADEME has a dedicated space to exchange on this topic on our Forum and in our Business Model Workgroup. For now in French.
The context matters
For intermediate mobility vehicles to be widely accepted, it will be essential to develop successful examples of product-market fit that cater to the needs of different sectors, including individuals, shared, and public transportation. New vehicles and services can be tailored to fit the specific contexts of each sector.
There are numerous opportunities to utilise intermediate vehicles in the public sector, including in police and security, health, public transportation, waste management, maintenance and repair, (postal) delivery, and municipal shared vehicles. These vehicles may also be utilised by associations such as the Red Cross after adaptations based on specific use cases.
They can find their place in agriculture, In tourism and leisure, it is possible to offer on-site rentals and various active modes of tourism that involve intermediate vehicles, especially during peak seasons in areas like mountain regions or natural reserves where parking can be challenging or in resorts. These options can provide additional opportunities for people with limited mobility to enjoy the sites.
Transforming Personal Transportation
Privet needs should be considered such as targeting individuals without a driving licenses, providing alternatives for families with multiple cars, and offering high-end small vehicle experiences for enthusiasts. Those can feed from the universe of cars, motorcycles or cycling based on the terrain, distance, speed, and purpose. Some of these services and products may require additional physical and digital infrastructure to enhance the overall experience. Electric cars, for instance, rely on charging infrastructure, and many manufacturers provide access to a network of charging stations and other services to support their use. Maintenance and repair services will need to be provided, and support and integration of these vehicles into multimodal transportation should begin by connecting them with mobility hubs like bus and train stations.
💡 Tips for developing intermediary mobility services :
- Identify potential use cases to tailor services to the needs of different customers and ensure they are suitable for their intended purpose.
- Explore opportunities in in different sectors including public, such as police and security, health, public transportation, waste management, maintenance and repair, delivery, and municipal shared mobility.
- Target tourism and leisure markets to offer on-site rentals and various active modes of tourism that involve intermediary vehicles. Solving seasonal congestion issues as well providing opportunities for people with limited mobility to enjoy the sites and discover a new way of transportation
- Address individual needs, such as recreation and commuting, targeting individuals without driving licenses, providing alternatives for families with multiple cars, and offering high-end small vehicle experiences for enthusiasts.
- Enhance the overall experience by investing in physical and digital infrastructure to support the use of intermediary vehicles, such as charging stations and maintenance and repair services, and connecting them with mobility hubs like bus and train stations.
How can environmental standards constrain and support the market?
In addition to considering the product-market fit, design language, and target audience, it's essential to align the technical capabilities with environmental standards. Environmental regulations and standards are becoming increasingly strict, and consumers are more aware of the impact their choices have on the environment. Early adopters and those who drive or build these vehicles are particularly sensitive to the environmental impact they have. To be successful, we should consider these factors and integrate them into our product and service offerings from the very start of the ideation phase through to industrialisation.
The idea of a French intermediary mobility certification standard that would also provide financial incentives from the government for the manufacturers and could guide consumers in their purchasing choices. Ensuring that the vehicles and services meet environmental standards and help to constrain the market by limiting options that do not meet these requirements. At the same time, it can also support the mobility market by providing sustainable options that meet the needs of consumers while also minimising environmental impacts. By prioritising sustainability in their offerings, intermediary mobility vehicle's can appeal to eco-conscious consumers.
💡 Here are some labels that can be used to indicate environmental standards:
- ISO 14001: A standard for environmental management systems, which outlines a framework for organisations to reduce their environmental impact and comply with relevant regulations.
- Cradle to Cradle: A certification program that assesses a product's environmental impact throughout its entire life cycle, including design, manufacturing, use, and disposal.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A certification program for textile products that meet organic farming and processing standards, as well as social criteria for workers' rights.
- XD ADEME has a dedicated space to exchange on this topic in our Life Cycle Assessment Workgroup. For now in French.
Intermediary mobility is here to stay
The success of what we call today “intermediary mobility” products and services depends on various factors, including design language, values, service, engineering, manufacturing, functionality, features, pricing, and marketing. To develop a product that resonates with its audience, it's essential to identify the ideal customer, understand their needs and context, ensure ease of use and positive experience, test and refine based on feedback, and continuously improve. Additionally, the ongoing environmental crisis has impacted the diverse imaginaries people have about personal mobility, leading to the rise of eco-friendly vehicles and innovative solutions. Today's intermediary mobility must balance functional needs, social aspirations, and environmental responsibility to meet the needs of our modern world and inspire us to move a little more.
💡 Key takeaways:
- Intermediary vehicles can be viewed through different lenses by different industries and people.
- Understanding diverse imaginaries people have when it comes to personal mobility is crucial to developing innovative and successful vehicles that meet consumer needs and preferences.
- Appearance, fit, functionality, features, pricing, and marketing all play a crucial role in a product's success.
- A product that looks visually appealing and attractive can capture the attention of potential customers and generate interest.
- A product that fits well with its intended audience can create a sense of familiarity and comfort, which can increase the likelihood of adoption and loyalty.
- There are numerous opportunities to utilize intermediary vehicles in the public sector, tourism and leisure, and private needs.
- It is essential to align technical capabilities with environmental standards to be successful in the market.
- Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact their choices have on the environment.
- A French intermediary mobility certification standard could provide financial incentives for manufacturers and guide consumers in their purchasing choices.
- Supporting the integration of these vehicles into multimodal transportation should begin by connecting them with mobility hubs like bus and train stations.
- Pinterest is an interesting place to find potential consumer feedback :)
- Join XD ADEME (in French for now) https://xd.ademe.fr/participer
autor: Justyna Swat