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City planners need to develop smarter cities that can transport an additional 2.7 billion urban commuters by 2050. As a result, micromobility (transport using electric-powered personal-sized vehicles like e-scooters and e-bikes) could be an 'iphone moment' for personal mobility.

Approximately 30 trillion passenger miles are travelled per year globally. 60% of current trips are below 5 miles. Our Research analysts estimate that by the mid 2020s 1.1 trillion of those passenger miles travelled (PMT) could switch to micromobility (MM), defined as electric-powered personal-sized vehicles weighing <500kg that can be owned or shared, is connected using AI and can be used for utility purposes. The change is happening because compared to full-sized autos, MM is:

In high-traffic cities, MM can move people faster than the current average speed of <10 mph with minimal infrastructure outlay required.
In the densest cities, an e-scooter's cost per mile is as little as a third the cost of conventional auto options (ride-hailing, driving a personal vehicle).
It’s better for the environment and better for city planning, the form factors can vary more and it is a fun way to get around.
Why does micromobility appeal to the consumer?

Source: Barclays Research, US National Household Travel Survey

Micromobility suits consumer demand for greater affordability, accessibility and availability whilst also adding velocity and vivacity (the 'fun factor').

Speed should enable micromobilty significantly more than cost and the lower 'hassle' of micro may allow operators to increase pricing to deal with customer demand. But even at the current cost/mile (US$1.4/mile in US, $1.55 in EU and $0.50 in ROW), our analysts estimate a US$800 billion revenue opportunity for micromobility operators in the near term.

Micromobility's growth trajectory

Micromobility is already booming, with startups like Bird and Lime showing a growth curve faster than ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft. At this rate, we expect investment implications for many sectors, with the most acute impact on infrastructure, property, leisure and autos.

Micromobility has grown even faster than ride-hailing

Source: Barclays Research does not cover Lime or Bird, company data

Which regions are geared for adoption?

The revenue opportunity and modes of micromobility will likely differ greatly by geography and depend both on consumer appetite and government will. E-scooters could proliferate in the sun-belt states in the US, e-bikes in Europe and e-moped and e-trikes in developing Asia and Africa, or we could see a combination of all modes in all regions. Some will be owned, but many more will be shared.

Each region has unique obstacles in terms of regulation, consumer habits from traditional transport, and what - if any - early adoption they have experienced. These will steer what types of MM vehicles are likely to have the most penetration.

2020 market opportunity by region

*PMT = Passenger miles travelled

To achieve 1.1 trillion PMT, our analysts estimate the number of micro vehicles in operation could reach close to 300mn vehicles, or 0.9 billion riders.

Collaboration between policy makers and innovators will be key

With congestion worsening and spending on vehicle infrastructure rising substantially, city planners may move from disapproval to positive encouragement of a mode of mobility that requires significantly less infrastructure, helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can support existing public transport infrastructure by providing seamlessly integrated multi-modal mobility.

City planners hold the power to adapt regulations and allocate mobility permits but will need to be flexible to encourage innovation. Likewise, micromobility will have to work hand-in-hand with urban regulators to ensure accurate data sharing and greater vehicle safety, to adapt supply to demand and to ensure greater integration of payment systems across the entire mobility ecosystem.

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Download a pdf version of this synopsis

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About the analysts

Ryan Preclaw is the head of Investment Sciences, a group that creates investment insights by combining alternative data, data science, and traditional research. Previously, he was a Director in Credit Strategy, where he focused on special situations, event-driven strategies, and industries facing fundamental transitions. Ryan has also worked as a coverage banker in Barclays' Communications and Media group.

Prior to joining Barclays, Ryan worked as an economist at NERA Economic Consulting and London Economics International. Ryan received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2008, his M.A. from Western University in 2001, and his B.A. from the University of Alberta in 2000

Ben McSkelly is an analyst in the Investment Sciences team, a group within Equity Research combining alternative data, data science and traditional research. Ben's remit includes both standalone data led research and working with the European equities teams to incorporate his insights into their coverage. Ben joined Barclays in 2018 having worked as a Technology and Support Services analyst at UK Small & Mid Cap broker Shore Capital (2015-2018), covering companies with interests in IT services, payments, software, scientific instrumentation and translation services.

Prior to entering finance, Ben built his data science skill set while acquiring a Ph.D in Particle Physics at the University of Liverpool (2015), including a two year placement at the international CERN laboratory in Switzerland. Ben received his undergraduate MPhys from the University of Durham in 2010.

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