Mobility as a Service — the future of automobiles

The way vehicles are used and owned will be changed as an unlimited number of services could be applied with the help of technology

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MARii Facebook

THE buzzword in the automotive industry now is “Mobility as a Service” or MaaS. The meaning of the phrase and its application, however, remain a big question mark to many.

The National Automotive Policy 2020 (NAP 2020), which presents the roadmap for the country’s future mobility until 2030, has MaaS as part of its aim, along with next-generation vehicles (NxGV) and IR4.0.

For a start, all the three new elements under the revised automotive blueprint are inter-connected in the development of future technologies.

Simply put, the NxGV states the type of car Malaysia wants to produce in the future, the IR4.0 provides the manufacturing model and MaaS is a future transportation solution that would grow with technological advances.

For the last century, a vehicle has been perceived as an object that is used to move people or products from point A to point B. The concept of a vehicle, however, has slowly changed over the years with technology.

Today, a vehicle is viewed as a service with the potential rollout of MaaS. This means the way vehicles are used and owned will be changed as an unlimited number of services could be applied with the help of technology.

The easy examples would be ride-hailing and other related services offered by disruptors such as Grab and GrabFood.

MaaS could potentially make the idea of owning a private car obsolete in the future. The rise of MaaS will revolutionise how people move from point A to point B where services are connected to transportation.

In layman’s terms, MaaS leverages the digital platform and integrates end-to-end trip planning, booking, payment services and solutions across all modes of transportation.

“The NAP 2020, through MaaS and the future development of autonomous vehicles, would allow the public to use roads on a lower cost-per-kilometre as self-navigating vehicles operate at a significantly lower cost than current taxi fares and ride-sharing platforms.

“Such vehicles could have a large impact on the quality of life in urban areas and form a critical part of the future of transportation, while benefitting travellers, the environment and even other stakeholders,” Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd analyst Wan Mustaqim Wan Ab Aziz told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Wan Mustaqim said carmakers in the country could participate in MaaS by investing in research and development (R&D) to stay competitive globally.

He said local carmakers could do joint developments to reduce the capital requirements needed in exploring MaaS solutions.

To date, there are more and more car manufacturers jumping into the ride-sharing race, seeking symbiosis with technology start-ups as traditional car ownership faces a new reality.

German and Japanese carmakers have looked to partner ride-hailing companies to provide a similar service, while pursuing to develop their very own driverless cars.

Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd analyst Brian Yeoh said the mobility value chain that encompasses new services such as ride-sharing, multi-modal transportation, e-payment and telematics are expected to be further developed under the NAP 2020.

“The original equipment manufacturers have not shared their next move, but as a start, we learned that the Malaysian Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) is making efforts with local universities to strengthen the mobility R&D talent network in Malaysia,” Yeoh told TMR.

He said MaaS will provide the public various innovative offerings of on-demand mobility services enabled by digital connectivity.

Other services that fall under MaaS include smart parking, personal travel planner, real-time traffic management and e-government.

Thus, MaaS will require a strong 5G network infrastructure and big data analytics to offer connected mobility services.