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How will micromobility impact the automotive ecosystem?

A new player is on city streets—micromobility. Micromobility is a form of transportation that is smaller and lighter than a car, covers short distances (usually under 3 miles), is often electrified, and is used as part of an app-based sharing scheme. Today, micromobility covers electric scooters (e-scooters), bicycles and electric bicycles (e-bikes), although in the future it could include small electrified pods.

In the United States, 84 million micromobility trips were completed in 2018 - more than double those in 2017 (see Figure). A big part of the growth came from the use of e-scooters, which has also quickly spread to cities across Europe. Lime, a major operator, reported 1 million rides after just 4 months of operation in Paris - and similar growth in Berlin.

The draw of micromobility is that it offers a relatively cost-effective, convenient and fun transport option for short, urban trips. It can provide a solution for the first and last mile of multimodal journeys, such as to and from a start or end point of public transportation. According to one study by a micromobility operator in San Francisco, taking an e-scooter was faster than a car in 70% of routes analyzed.[1]

Several challenges could constrain the growth - and viability - of micromobility. E-scooters have generated public backlash, and the key challenge is safety - both for users as well as pedestrians. In the United States, pilot projects have been adopted by many cities - capping the number of operators and micromobility fleets allowed in the city to ensure a coordinated rollout. In Europe, regulators have taken steps such as banning use on sidewalks, capping speeds, and fining for improper parking. Sustainability challenges - such as recycling of e-scooters and lowering lifecycle emissions - will also have to be addressed.

Taken on its own, the potential impact of micromobility on cars and oil is unlikely to be disruptive. A key reason is that micromobility - in cities where it proves durable - is likely to be a closer substitute for trips that would otherwise be taken via foot or via public transportation, given the short distances covered. However, data from two US cities show that around one-third of current users would have otherwise travelled by car - whether privately- owned or ride-hailing services.[2]

Ultimately, the most significant impact to cars from micromobility could come from regulatory pressure on cars in cities over time. In such a scenario, micromobility could increasingly be used in combination with public transportation and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) as part of an integrated, decarbonized urban mobility network - posing a greater challenge to personal car ownership.

IHS Markit closely monitors the transformation of the global automotive ecosystem and its impact on the energy and chemicals industries, publishing data, key insights and market analysis. Learn more about our Energy and Mobility research.


[2] Midpoint Evaluation For Powered Scooter Share Pilot," SFMTA, 16 April 2019, !!; Portland Bureau of Transportation, 2018 E-Scooter Findings Report, !!

Posted 26 September 2019 by Elena Pravettoni, Senior Economist, Energy & Mobility and

Tom De Vleesschauwer, Global Transport & Mobility Practice Leader, Automotive



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