A New Vision for Personal Transportation

The authors argue that applying smart data and the principles of mass customization to transportation ecosystems will enable new business models — and fundamentally change the way we travel.

Transportation is one of the largest sectors of the global economy. It is also one that is changing rapidly. Smartphones and Internet-based technologies have helped launch and enable new business models like Uber, Lyft, and car2go. Even self-driving cars are no longer science fiction. But the future of transportation — what we call mobility — will go far beyond these developments.

This article is based on our research and experience in mobility and customization. One of the authors (Gruel) initiated and led the development of new mobility services as part of Daimler AG’s business innovation team. In that role, he helped grow these services and was head of product management for the car-sharing service car2go and the route-planning tool moovel. The other author (Piller) has investigated the success factors for mass customization in many case studies and quantitative analyses. His research on strategic capabilities is based on several large-scale benchmarking studies, like the MC500, a survey of 500 leading mass-customization companies in the consumer sector.

From Planning to Traveling

Intermodal routing is nothing new. It simply means you’re using more than one mode of transportation — car, bus, bike, walking, train, subway, plane, or anything else — on a given route. You might use intermodal routing because it’s faster or cheaper or more convenient. Likewise, municipalities and governments have a vested interest in intermodal routing, which has the potential not only to reduce traffic (and therefore reduce automotive emissions) but also to radically reshape the transportation infrastructure that governments have traditionally provided.

Recent advancements enable intermodal routing to be realized on a large scale and in real time. Consider OpenTripPlanner, an open-source platform for journey planning that combines public transit, walking, cycling, and car travel. The project has attracted attention from developers and users and is supported by public agencies, startups, and consultancies.

Large automotive companies have also joined the game. Moovel, a route-planning tool developed by Daimler, the German automotive company, sorts through offers from diverse mobility providers to transport users between their chosen starting points and destinations. It presents alternative routes in a transparent and comparable way and includes services like public transit, taxis, shared cars, or shared bicycles.

Tools like these display an advanced understanding of intermodal routing.