Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) brings with it the promise of finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our times. Nations, the world over are seeking to find ways of transition to clean fuels, and mobility is no exception. While electric mobility and other clean fuel powered variants have already demonstrated the feasibility of such a transition, the need is to look beyond just vehicles.
A truly sustainable mobility ecosystem warrants resource sharing and certain tenets of circularity, which ensures higher levels of utilisation, while meeting the aspirations of an ever-increasingly nuanced commuter. The same also needs to be equitable and inclusive to be truly sustainable.
MaaS foregrounds the principle of sustainability, as optimising the use of each form of transport makes it possible to save resources and avoid emissions (Iberdrola, 2023). Most definitions of MaaS share a common vision built around a few central ideas which also define its philosophy and components (Bianchi Alves et al, 2021):
Unlocking the Potential of Electric Mobility-as-a-Service (eMaaS)
The thrust on Electric Mobility-as-a-Service (eMaaS) unlocks avenues to improve the collective understanding of associated aspects of mobility transition such as vehicles, batteries, charging infrastructure and ancillary services.
One particular point that will drive eMaaS will be the role played by battery technology. Requirements for battery technology for MaaS services will be different compared to personal use vehicles. Given the evolution of electric vehicle battery technology, there are various uses emerging for vehicle batteries, especially for two-way interaction with the grid. That brings in various additional demands that need to be considered when designing batteries for vehicles.
Strategy for Unlocking MaaS Benefits for India
In India, the evolution of the MaaS ecosystem is still at a nascent stage. Talking of eMaaS is crucial at this stage because there is an opportunity to create a technology leapfrog in the process which benefits various stakeholders – vehicle manufacturers, battery manufacturers, MaaS operators, aggregators and others.
However, there are a series of barriers – technological, regulatory, financial – that need to be addressed around the deployment of eMaaS as a service in India. There is a multi-dimensional approach to bring together the benefits of Mobility as a Service and electric mobility and the various trends surrounding these two facets of mobility. Therefore, unlocking the benefits can be achieved with a five-pronged strategy. This approach must encompass regulatory, financial and technological domains.
In terms of a regulatory approach, a series of steps need to be undertaken at varying levels of governance, thanks to the nature of governance structure in India. While some steps have been taken to address gaps, more needs to be done by relevant authorities. This includes the following:
Infrastructure and Technology Requirements:
Infrastructure and technology requirements have to be tackled on priority basis to achieve the full potential, with a particular focus on the charging ecosystem for vehicle and/or battery swap stations. This is critical particularly when it comes to integrating electric vehicles into the MaaS framework in this, a series of steps can be extremely helpful:
Financial sector also has a role to play in unlocking the benefits. It is imperative to present options that can help adjust the cost suitably and bring it closer to the cost of contemporary internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, especially in larger form factors. Some steps that can be considered in that direction are as follows:
Roadmap for Future Mobility
Over the last decade, vehicle electrification has occurred mostly in the personal vehicle segment. Considering the rise in air pollution, governments and policymakers are increasingly focused on electrifying high-mileage vehicle applications like MaaS. A new emerging extension of MaaS is electric MaaS (e-MaaS) which combines MaaS, electric mobility ecosystem, and shared electric mobility services. It aims to ensure that the future of MaaS is “eco-friendly” along with being shared. There has been evidence showing the potential for EVs to improve the business case for MaaS. The EV market in India is at an inflection point, and it would be much easier and cheaper to define standards that ensure future readiness and offer an integrated and environment-friendly solution to the Indian consumer.
This article has been derived from the CII and OMI Foundation report on “Roadmap for Future Mobility 2030”.