Toutche blog-microbility

The tale of Micromobility: The underdog we should be rooting for

By Raghu Kerakatty

Micromobility: An overview

Remember the shiny flying cars that show up on every sci-fi movie poster? Every image of the ‘future’ since the 1950s had a commonality - flying cars. It is rare, almost impossible, to find a ‘future’ without the domination of cars. All the fellow geeks would agree. An etched concept in our minds, car ownership became not only a source of easier mobility but also a symbol of social and financial status, thanks to the big automobile brands. Now in 2021, our futures are starting to look quite different!

When you think of Micromobility, most visualise it to be e-bikes or e-scooters. Although that is right, the term Micromobility refers to a broader spectrum of small, lightweight, low-speed vehicles, widely used for short rides. In addition, it also covers private and shared vehicles. In short, Micromobility can be clearly defined using multiple criteria of weight, speed, and power.

Market Research Future (MRFR) in its study, predicts the global Micromobility industry to cross USD 200 billion by the year 2027, growing at a CAGR of 17%.

With such promising predictions, further fuelled by the current state of environmental affairs, smaller vehicles as an alternate transport solution could be the next big commonality in many ‘future’ movie posters.

A Growing Shift towards Micromobility

Growth of Urban Cities

What are our shrinking lakes and forests showing us? Human habitation is growing, and our cities are growing even faster. The exponential urban population growth is challenging some of the best transport infrastructures, let alone the developing ones. Studies on urban city growth predict that by 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people will have moved to urban city centres globally.

What does this relate to? A clear increase in the number of commuters, which in turn calls for scalable and efficient means of transportation.

Favourable Economics

While new business ventures and early start-up initiatives face challenges for successful profit models, smaller, non-polluting vehicles are fast emerging as attractive transport options for the consumer.

Whether in a private or shared-use setting, the running cost of such vehicles is relatively much lower than the larger and fossil-fuelled vehicles.

With continuous tech innovations by micromobility companies and manufacturers to reduce costs, the cost of buying a vehicle or using it (shared-use) will favour consumers and in turn lead the companies involved, towards profits.

The menace of Traffic and Congestion

The population increase in the urban centres and the ensuing rise in traffic, pollution and congestion is a fact of life now. Experts predict that the rising curve will be exponential, so much so that transportation infrastructures will struggle to keep up.

With numerous studies on commuting and subjective well-being, companies see a solid potential for a solution in their alternative transport systems. Smaller, non-polluting vehicles such as e-bikes, e-scooters, etc., can reduce emissions, traffic congestion and make city travel quicker, especially during peak hours and days. Whilst the talk of safety of riders of these vehicles is always a topic of debate, over time with increase in smaller vehicle population on the streets, accidents may be of minor intensity.

Alternative Transport

Micromobility has all the potential of playing a big role in the future Urban Transportation architectures. Vehicles like e-bikes, e-scooters and other electric 2-wheeled vehicles are projected to become convenient options for both last mile and point-to-point travel needs, minimising the need for larger private vehicles.

Covid-19 has added another layer to the evolving phenomenon of mobility, with more and more people gravitating towards lower (people) contact modes of transport thereby causing a surge in demand for smaller, private vehicles.

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Strengths and Challenges

Lower cost of Purchase or Use

Cost of Use is a factor with most things in life. With mobility, it has a degree of variance with respect to the level of experience, convenience and comfort it offers to consumers, and how much they are ready to pay for it. Smaller vehicles (bikes, eBikes, eScooters etc) offer great value propositions on Cost of ownership, for private ownership and thereby offering an attractive Cost of Service in a shared mobility setting.

However, with electric vehicles the costs can still improve and technology innovation will help reduce the cost of batteries, production, and also improve the product life at the same time.


In this 21st century, convenience is everything. Instant gratification, if not anything, has made convenience a priority for each of us. People who use Micromobility services note that one of the major high points for the model is its convenience.

Technology led innovation is continually improving the experience for consumers, lowering the “barrier to try”. Whether it is to find a nearby vehicle followed by easy unlocking, using, and paying or owning one that you can operate all through your mobile app, takes convenience to new levels of wowness.


Shared mobility systems have often posed challenges to the city authorities with respect to parking and at times, even safety of pedestrians. However, it has still emerged as a viable option, complementing mainstream transportation systems. Authorities now believe that this could be the option to fill gaps found in public transportation facilities as they can begin to reduce the number of cars on the road.

Reducing the number of cars on the road can also contribute to lesser congestion, pollution, and CO2 emissions.

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A full life cycle assessment by Voi Technology points out a 71% decrease in emissions since January 2019 in European cities owing to combined initiatives of the micromobility sector. In addition to this, scooters and cargo bike operations resulted in a 51 per cent reduction in emissions.

Space Efficiency

It is easy to comprehend the efficient use of road space with the use of smaller vehicles. Not only do smaller vehicles occupy less space, they also have a shorter safety distance between them.

Road and Parking spaces will be constrained elements as urbanisation surges, and “Road space used per person” to travel will be a very critical factor while planning bodies around the world look at their future transport blueprints.


For micromobility to thrive and grow, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the road infrastructure, keeping rider safety and smooth flow of traffic, at the centre of all planning.

If the future Urban transport system has to encourage more small vehicles on the road, then the roads and the supporting infrastructure around, should be planned based on the type of vehicles and travel they are meant for . The Hyperlocal communities where roads are specifically made for bikes and pedestrians, to get around neighbourhoods and short distances, could therefore connect with infrastructure that is meant for high speed, long distance, large vehicle traffic in a certain fashion.


Bicycles and other 2-wheeled vehicles on the street are nothing new. They have been around in every part of the world, and in some parts, have been the predominant form of transportation.

However, for 2-wheeled vehicles to become a widely used mode of personal transport, safety regulations of stringent nature need to be in place. Policymakers have the right to, and should take a cautionary approach, against hazards from speed and unpredictability. As mentioned earlier (in the Infrastructure section), a road network within cities that prioritise and are made for smaller vehicles, is being trialled in many cities around the world.

Weather Conditions

For places with less than favourable climates, smaller, personal vehicles in their standard form may not be best suited at all times. In addition to safety during harsh weather conditions, vehicles also need to provide the requisite comfort, to make vehicles viable for travel. Hence cars become a preferred choice, simply because they are covered and offer safety and comfort and at all times.

The ask of vehicle makers then is to innovate on designs that offer the agility of a 2-wheeler and comfort and safety of a car, which is fair. And we may well see form factors addressing this in the near future.

Laws & Regulation

Micromobility is a relatively new concept in action in some places and a much older mode in use across others. However, there is some level of similarity and consistency to how it is taking shape around many parts of the world right now, as an alternative to mainstream transport systems. Given the huge potential for it, there will be a rush of many new and old companies that are flocking this space with a myriad of concepts. Some deemed legal and some simply exciting.

Whilst innovation needs to be allowed to thrive and natural adoption trends taken into account, the laws and regulations need to learn from experiences quickly and offer clarity to the entire ecosystem.

Impacts from Covid-19

Covid-19 has been unprecedented in many ways and has affected almost all industries. Transportation services were heavily hit as a result of lockdowns in various parts of the world, some micromobility companies (shared mobility) included.

On the contrary, Bicycles and Electric Bicycles have seen a big surge in demand across the world, during and after COVID-19 peak phases, causing supply chain shocks. It severely hampered large and small companies not in terms of demand, but supply. The rationale behind this demand is simple - an increased risk of infection with public and shared transport. The market is therefore moving towards personal vehicles, and consumers are more open to smaller vehicles than ever before.

While COVID effects continue to challenge some of the well established mobility companies, micromobility in the midst of tough times, found its own place. It not only became a steady component in the wider spectrum of transportation, but has created a multi-billion dollar market segment for delivery services (food, groceries, and so many more) which is here to stay.

What does the Future behold?

The fact is simple. By 2050, experts predict that 68% of the global population will move to reside in cities. It is only natural that cities in the future will become more crowded and congested with an ever increasing demand for transportation services.

Micromobility has a lot to offer, specially to address issues that have troubled our urban cities for a long time, irrespective of the challenges that confront it. It provides opportunities to improve the environmental condition around us that is in dire need for care.

As more begin to adopt the smaller vehicles as an alternative transportation solution, it will spur more innovation, production, and regulation. The road ahead is a long one but definitely leads to a better place!

Raghu Kerakatty - CEO & Cofounder, Toutche

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