Modern mobility through networking and digitalization

The Ruhr Metropolis is the optimum location to implement trendsetting traffic systems, according to Drive-CarSharing founder Andreas Allebrod

The mobility conference Ruhr Metropolis 2017 on 18 September in Essen focused on the motto of “Networked in the City and the Region”. This title is just right, says Andreas Allebrod. The founder of Drive-CarSharing GmbH was the first to enter carsharing in Dortmund in 1995. He has been responsible for the business model RUHRAUTOe since 2012. With his project partners VRR, VIVAWEST, the University of Duisburg-Essen, innogy eCarSharing, Ruhrbahn and various automobile manufacturers, Allebrod is developing an innovative and sustainable mobility concept with electric vehicles as the key element. In the Ruhr Metropolis, 18 towns are now participating in the project, which includes around 500 electric cars.

Mr Allebrod, how far will “e-mobility” change the understanding of mobility in the Ruhr Metropolis?

Allebrod: The understanding of mobility in the metropolitan region is going to change completely in the coming years. In combination with electromobility, there is great potential here. The Ruhr district is Europe’s largest polycentric metropolis. No other conurbation has a comparably efficient and diverse infrastructural density. That makes the Ruhr Metropolis the optimum location in Germany to put new traffic systems into practice in which electromobility plays a central role.

Are we talking to you about cars today?

Allebrod: No, definitely not. We’re talking about digitisation, networking and, above all, data. We don’t just drive cars any more. Instead, a great deal has been rethought – in companies, whether long-established or start-ups, and among consumers. We’re looking for digital solutions to link various means of transport and services efficiently. Together with our partners, we are currently managing that very well.

If you talk to 17- to 20-year-olds, you discover that: getting a driving licence can wait. What’s happened there?

Allebrod: Young people really don’t need a driving licence. It’s enough to have a bicycle or an e-bike to use in combination with buses and trains. It’s definitely also to do with the realisation that we need to protect the environment and that we are also able to save a lot of money. Additionally, it’s now really no problem at all to travel on public transport – which also means that you don’t need to look for a parking space. And with the new cycle tracks that have been created on old marked-out routes, you can often reach your destination quickly in the Ruhr Metropolis.

So if, let’s say, I have to get from Mülheim to Castrop-Rauxel, and I want to do some shopping en route and travel in as environmentally friendly a way and as fast as possible – how can you help me with this?

Allebrod: We link local public transport or also trains with alternative means of transport – this can be an e-mobile from a pool, for example from innogy SE, or a hydrogen-powered bus, perhaps also an e-scooter or an e-bike. Of course, this still needs a little time. But probably even next year, we’ll be able to ensure that you can use a variety of means of transport in a practical and planned way. At the same time, we organise, for example, the shopping that you’d like to take with you for a relaxing evening after work, and we put it right where you need it – e.g. in a cooled locker at the train station, where you’ve arrived by e-bike. And which you e.g. then leave there if it needs to be repaired or serviced – the bike is collected and, the next day, it’s waiting at the place you wish to depart from.

That means that it’s possible to coordinate all this from one place?

Allebrod: Yes, the further we develop our network, the more services we can also offer centrally. For this purpose, we look carefully at our customers’ needs, together with the universities, and universities of applied sciences at the location. We collect data, for example on distances, times and the places where means of transport are most urgently required.

Don’t you have problems there with data protectionists?

Allebrod: Of course, but you have to bear one thing in mind: Google already knows almost everything anyway. It’s enough to turn on your mobile. And if I want to make use of the comfort provided by the new type of mobility, I can’t avoid disclosing personal data. But that’s a decision for each person to make individually.

In China, there’s a quota for the number of electric cars. Will that also be the case here – at least in conurbations like the Ruhr Metropolis?

Allebrod: No, here the electric vehicles come by themselves. You can see it right now in the discussion about diesel vehicles. We’re completely sure that a driving ban will be announced – it’s just a question of time. Afterwards, it will be the petrol engine’s time, since it also produces emissions. The legal requirements will regulate it – the future lies in e-mobiles or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

But there are some obstacles here like refuelling or the range...

Allebrod: Much of it only seems a problem in people’s heads. After all, who really has to drive 600, 700 km in one go? Particularly here in the Ruhr Metropolis, the journeys for commuters are quite short in general, for example. Of course, there are exceptions. I recently drove around 1,300 km to Gdańsk using my electric car, and I used the refuelling as a 20-minute break, which meant that I arrived slightly later, but very relaxed. And what’s more, the electricity was free of charge.