Did you purchase an electric vehicle in 2023? Did you ride an e-scooter? Has the notion of riding high in an air taxi crossed your mind? If you said yes to any of these questions, congrats! In one way or another, you touched on one of the transportation trends that shaped 2023. From EVs to micromobility to companies like Joby Aviation, the shifts in how people get from point A to point B was invariably guided by innovation and technology–which makes it worthwhile to take a closer look at what the year brought us.
A Micromobility Update for 2023
The rise of micromobility transportation offerings in the past decades has certainly been impressive. E-scooter, e-bikes, electric wheelies, and more have taken cities by storm, offering new transit options. And along with these developments came shared offerings by companies like Lime, Bird, and others. Interestingly, however, transportation trends this year saw a decline in shared micromobility programs. Urban centers like Paris and San Francisco moved toward restricting or even banning e-scooters due to ongoing problems. Abandonment of devices and reckless operations were among the most cited issues.
Surveys are showing that increasing numbers of citizens prefer that e-scooters specifically be restrained in certain areas. Combined with booming micromobility marketplaces where consumers buy their own, transportation news in 2023 showed a decline in shared offerings. Transportation trends this year did see a tremendous increase in e-bike and e-scooter sales. And given that these micromobility devices have only replaced 7% of car trips, it’s less likely these will replace traditional travel. This is certainly true if limited infrastructure persists for using these alternative transportation options.
Transportation Infrastructure Developments
While better urban infrastructures are needed for micromobility, similar issues are even more important for electric vehicles (EVs). As the percentage of consumers with EVs increase, so has the need for fast EV charging stations. Understanding this, transportation trends this year has seen several companies adjusting to these shifts. This not only includes companies building more fast EV charging stations. But it also involves existing travel stops adapting to the inherent lifestyle changes associated with these developments. Transportation news in 2023 highlighted a need for these travel stations to better accommodate “dwell time.” This is the time spent waiting for an EV to charge at these stations.
Given the extended time a consumer is present, travel stations like Pilot and Love’s are revamping their locations. In fact, each is spending about $1 billion to redesign their pit stops to better engage, accommodate, and entertain consumers. It helps that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is allocating $5 billion to support such endeavors. These shifts are just getting started. So, it’s likely these same infrastructure developments will extend past transportation news in 2023 into the next year.
The Changing EV Market
One of the major pieces of transportation news in 2023, especially in the latter half, involved the EV market itself. Amidst a backdrop of high interest rates and inflation, consumer demand for EVs fell. Given the financial barriers associated with EV purchases, this appeared to be enough to dissuade sales and result in unmet forecasts. Several car companies as a result have backed off future sales predictions. Specifically, GM no longer expects to meet projected quotas, and Toyota and Honda have both become less enthusiastic. At the same time, Tesla’s shares dropped about 60% in value recently with lower sales numbers. At present, EV sales represent only 1% of all vehicle sales and 8% of all new sales. This has persisted despite discounts and financial incentives. It therefore seems like it will take more to convince the public to switch to EVs.
In addition to this, preferences among American consumers still migrate toward larger vehicles when it comes to EVs. There remains a question as to whether these types of EV purchases are actually beneficial for the climate. Between larger battery requirements and manufacturing costs, EV trucks and SUVs are not necessarily environmentally friendly. Some suggest a small gas-powered car may actually be better for the environment that these larger EV versions. Clearly, transportation trends this year in the EV market haven’t been highly favorable. However, most still predict the shift to EVs will gradually occur over the next decade. Transportation news in 2023 suggests this shift will indeed be slow.
Looking Ahead in Transportation
While micromobility and EV markets have not had the best transportation news in 2023, others have. According to transportation trends this year, we may see eVTOLs available for commercial use. Joby Aviation, one of the few eVTOL startups, expects to launch piloted taxi services next year. Though some have their doubts, Joby has already been working with the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense. In fact, pilots in the Air Force have been training on Joby Aviation aircraft this year. While this news is exciting, the forecast for an eVTOL taxi offering next year is later than initially projected. Joby states that delays in certifications played a role in this. However, missed projections and recent reports about profitability concerns haven’t been favorable for the company.
Transportation news in 2023 reported a 13% drop in Joby share prices as a result of these concerns. In addition, some question the affordability of the eVTOL taxi services despite Joby shooting for a $5 per mile rate. In any case, it is clear that transportation trends this year are moving in the eVTOL direction. Other companies in this sector are targeting launches in 2026. Thus, it would seem that these offerings aren’t too far into the future. Perhaps these were the most noteworthy transportation trends this year that looked the most promising. But in any case, it’s evident that the transportation sector landscape is one that’s quite dynamic.