Announcements made by two of the world’s largest automakers in recent weeks suggest a new paradigm for traditional powerhouse automakers for the coming years as the automobile industry is expected to experience a considerable decline from its peak years. This decline is predicted over the coming decade as individual car ownership is expected to decline as people increasingly opt for Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions in their transit. This shift towards service-based, demand-responsive transportation is aided by the maturation of autonomous vehicle technology, with self-driving cars from major automakers expected to reach roads in the first half of the 2020s.

These rising trends and market transformations, together with an increasing concern for sustainability, have inspired most major automakers to dedicate themselves to development of new vehicle technologies, autonomous and electronic, and foster new collaborations with service companies outside of the traditional industry’s scope. Collaboration between automakers and ride-sharing services, such as those between GM and Lyft or Uber and Volvo, have set the stage for an increasingly adventures era in the auto industry in which new partnerships signal shifts in business models and augur a considerable transformation.

Now two traditional automakers have taken bold new steps to address their futures as Toyota and Ford become two of the frontrunners in a shift to service-directed business models which are intended to reposition these traditional manufacturers to a Mobility as a Service future. These new efforts, launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) see the automakers open themselves up to integration into larger mobility systems, whether through a cloud-based platform such as Ford’s “Transportation Mobility Cloud”—designed to integrate the entire scope of a city’s mobility services—or through technology such as Toyota’s autonomous concept car designed to dynamically respond to the needs of a city—ranging from shared rides and deliveries to use as a mobile office.  

Ford and Toytoa are, of course, not the first to develop entirely new services directed at service-based transportation solutions, joining VW’s Moia, but the entry of such industry heavyweights does signal a rising tide and marks a new era in the development of MaaS and the future of transportation.

Details on Ford’s mobility service platform 

News of Toyota’s unveiling at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.