How do investors expect to make money out of MaaS? What are they looking for as a way of getting the return on investment? In this episode of the “Future MaaS” podcast series we talk about investing in MaaS with Tara Shirvani, Green Technologies, Smart Systems and Electric Vehicles Lead for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Reilly Brennan, General Partner at Trucks Venture Capital; Mark Platshon, Executive Advisor at Acario Ventures; and James Datson, Government Relationship Manager at Connected Places Catapult and Board Member of the MaaS Alliance.
From an investor point of view, Mark Platshon is fundamentally looking at a combination of technology and business innovations that lower the cost of mobility, to fit better personal mobility with delivery and make cities work better. Reilly Brennan highlights that investors are ultimately looking to return on investment. When talking about MaaS, people usually tend to focus only on the operators and the vehicle while there is a lot more behind the business.
The central role of cities is clear in Tara Shirvani’s views: how we connect Smart City concepts with the MaaS ecosystem, and how we can bring more sustainable, affordable, efficient public transport to the end-use clients. Especially in developing countries where there is a limited amount of capacity that protects users and the use of their data this might require a revised governance and strengthened set of rules. Public transport is important but, according to Reilly Brennan, a city has to think about all the access and transport modes that they want to give to their citizens, including micromobility operators who have sometimes had an antagonistic relationship with cities authorities when it comes to develop their business.
The MaaS market has already changed quite a lot even if in only few years. For James Datson, in a post-pandemic world, the governments might ask for more collaboration between transport operators and a more integration with the software providers such as the MaaS aggregators, if they still want the subsidy to come through.
Congestion and return to a large use of private cars is something to keep under control. As Mark Platshon explains, in some regions such as Silicon Valley and in most large megacities around the world, congestion has become one of the major timewasters and one of the big costs. However, there has been quite dramatic uptake of shared mobility and multimodal options, which is quite encouraging. Another opportunity lays with the electrification of transport; with the new rules to ban combustion cars there will be a doubling of the demand and in the next decade, we can expect electric vehicles to be dominant in the market.
At the end James Datson highlights that we need to balance between the individual and collective needs. Transport is a public good and so equity aspects are important to bear in mind so that transport services can be consumed by all. We need data and technology embedded in our fleets and networks, and we need a much better understanding of passenger and travel demand.
In the next podcast, we will keep talking about investing in MaaS and how investors can help co-design the future of transport.