Tony Seba, author of Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation said “We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history.” It’s not uncommon to hear consultants, experts and authors put forth similar statements about other industries, other technologies, but in my research about transportation innovation, I’ve come to believe that this isn’t an overstatement. Consequences in this field have ripple effects for almost every other industry and companies that are not prepared for some major shifts will not be with us by as soon as 2030. So what sorts of changes are we talking about?
Well, for one, transportation won’t always be necessary anymore. With the rise of 3D printing, we won’t always have to shift goods through time and space anymore – we’ll be living in a far more on-demand world. Consider already how “the rise of 3D printing has led to a decrease in business for shipping companies.” Truck shipment, after all, is one of the major middle class employers and it is a job that might not exist soon with the rise of autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.
Consider, too, how changes in transportation might change the landscape where we live. In the RethinkX report, authors write “As fewer cars travel more miles, the number of passenger vehicles on American roads will drop from 247 million to 44 million, opening up vast tracts of land for other uses.” This poses a challenge not just for car manufacturers or shipping and logistics companies, but also leaves a whole new blank canvas for those who would like to fill that gap. Is there another use for all those roadways?
And finally, one of the biggest drivers (ahem) of change in the transportation field is sustainability. Carbon emissions from vehicles produce nearly thirty percent of all US global warming emissions (more than any other segment). Auto manufacturers, auto companies, and energy manufacturers are beginning to respond to this problem as public sentiment has shifted dramatically towards solving this problem. Organizations of all sizes will need to consider their end-to-end carbon costs as they plan for the future.
How do you think transportation will change over the next few decades?