COVID-19 put the brakes on travel near and far, but with restrictions poised to ease this year for large swaths of the global population, the evolution toward green and next-gen mobility that was underway pre-pandemic is gaining further momentum.
Electric vehicle (EV) sales are poised to hit their highest level on record in 2021.1 Meanwhile, investor interest in mobility-focused companies is surging, due in part to a flurry of SPACs funding forward-looking technologies and a swell of capital earmarked for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments.
In this 3 Point Perspective, Barclays’ Banking team delves into three trends shaping the rapidly advancing mobility sector.
As consumers regain mobility post-pandemic, they may emerge with a new mindset around travel, weighing where they want to go against where they need to go. This mindset, paired with considerations about safety, eco-friendliness and convenience will sit at the heart of how new and existing modalities of transportation will emerge and thrive – from electric vehicles to micro-mobility. Consumers no longer need to choose between the vehicle that they want to drive and making a socially conscious decision about their vehicle.
Electric vehicle sales are perhaps most emblematic of this shifting consumer sentiment. By 2040, the percentage of electric vehicles on the road in the United States is expected to climb from 3% today to 58%.2 In Europe and China, by 2030 EVs will represent 72% of all passenger sales, driven primarily by European CO2 regulations and China’s EV credit system, among other policies and regulations.3
Consumer demand for safer and greener mobility options that meet their shifting needs will drive innovation and growth among mobility-related sectors such as the technology, automotive and public sectors – ultimately benefiting the companies, countries and investors that are enabling next-gen mobility to thrive.
Mobility is a capital intensive sector. And in order to accelerate growth, the capital markets will play a critical role by providing mobility companies with the means necessary to innovate, scale and enable a quicker transition away from fossil fuels.
The massive buildup of ESG-marked capital over the last 12-24 months is now seeking investment opportunities in sustainable transport and other related areas as investors have begun to take note of the industry’s rapid advances in real-time.
The dramatic increase in investment and capital flowing into vehicular electrification focused companies could accelerate the pace of electrification by many years – ahead of the 2030s timeframe previously expected.Rory Elliott, Managing Director, Automotive Investment Banking
Depending on a company’s capital requirements and growth stage, there are a number of options to tap capital markets for funding.
Revenue generating companies can issue debt in the form of green or sustainability-linked bonds to finance mobility-related projects. Notably, green bond issuance rose to record levels in 2020, over 6.5x volumes in 2015. That momentum has continued in 2021, with year-to-date issuance tracking over double what was seen in 2020.4
For emerging growth companies that may not be revenue-positive or listed publicly, SPACs can offer a pathway to finance growth that private capital markets cannot fully address. Notably, since the summer of 2020, more than 25 next-gen mobility companies have gone public through a combination with a SPAC.5
While a wide range of private and public entities are rushing to stake a claim in the mobility space, key advancements in technology and infrastructure are critical to achieving full potential. That’s especially true for two central categories in the space: EVs and autonomy.
EVs are making rapid progress, especially for passenger vehicles in Europe, thanks to the support of both investment and regulation. But mass adoption globally could remain elusive without range-extending breakthroughs in battery technology, charging networks on par with that of petroleum fueling stations, and per-unit costs at or below those of gas-powered cars.
At the same time progress is being made in EVs, autonomous technologies are getting closer to broader adoption due to the growing and more cost-competitive availability of LiDAR and radar sensors, advanced cameras, and powerful, more-efficient semiconductors coupled with cutting-edge software development. Many autonomous programs that target both human and goods mobility are in prototype phase now to bring those elements together and companies are seeing interest from SPACs in order to fund future investment.
Like with electrification, as scale grows, manufacturing cost per unit should decrease, accelerating adoption of autonomous technologies. However, both unit cost and regulation are key to further advancing this area of next-gen mobility.