Our cities: Laboratories of the future

More and more people live in urban areas, and the number of megacities is growing. Innovative mobility concepts will ensure that even large cities remain nice places to live in.

Anyone traveling around Mexico City by car needs nerves of steel. The average speed here is 6 km/h, and the inhabitants of the city need an average of three hours per day to commute to and from work. Traffic in Germany has not reached such a degree yet. But in this country, drivers still sit in traffic jams for 38 hours per year on average. In cities such as Stuttgart, Karlsruhe or Cologne, it is much longer.

According to a UN report, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. In 1950 it was only one-third, which means that this will have doubled within one hundred years. The number of megacities with more than ten million inhabitants is also growing. To avert a traffic collapse in these urban centers and prevent pollution and noise from getting out of hand, we need innovative solutions for the mobility of tomorrow.

One destination, different means of transportation

Intermodal mobility, as it is called, is of particular importance in making transportation in cities more efficient. It links several different types of transportation intelligently. Whether bus, train, bicycle, car sharing vehicle, or your own car – what is important is no longer how you travel, but what the fastest way to your destination is. Apps assist users in finding the best route and enable the payment of mobility and car sharing services. German automobile manufacturers offer a variety of such intermodal options. Together with start-ups and other technology companies, they are constantly developing new ideas for mobility services in urban areas.

And the vehicles themselves are becoming more city-compatible, with electric motors, intelligent networking, and automated driving functions. There are many modern car models that are already on the streets of cities across the world; in coming years, we will continue to get closer to realizing the ideal city car.

The concept of car sharing, namely one car with multiple users, can help to take some of the pressure off the urban infrastructure and make transportation there more bearable in the future. Better-utilized vehicles mean less emissions and noise. The goal by 2020: there should be at least one car sharing option in the twenty largest cities in Germany. Customers particularly like modern car sharing, in which the driver can park the car on the side of any street rather than having to leave it at a station. Ever since German manufacturers started offering this flexible concept, more and more users have decided to use it.

Better networked

The increasing networking of vehicles with each other and with the surrounding environment makes transportation in our cities more efficient and comfortable: cars that communicate with traffic lights can more efficiently synchronize the lights. Intelligent traffic management systems can evaluate vehicle data in real time and suggest alternative routes to drivers in or upcoming traffic jams or direct them to free parking spaces. Around one-fifth of all traffic jams and a third of the traffic generated while drivers search for a parking space could be avoided with networked driving. The technology for this is already waiting in the wings.

In places with a high population density, the demand for intelligent mobility solutions is particularly high. And cities are also laboratories for the future: we can and must find out what new technologies can do here, how we can organize transport more efficiently and in a manner that has more advantages for people and the environment. With its development and innovation work, the German automotive industry will help decisively shape the livable city of the future.