The automobility / micromobility clash (Micromobility)

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There is a European Union vehicle category for four-wheeled vehicles which are not technically cars. These are called “quadricycles”. The framework was developed in 2002 and further stipulates Light (L6e) or Heavy (L7e) categories. Curiously, these vehicles are covered by the same rules as mopeds(!)

Micromobility/Service vs Automobility/Product

Micromobility is minimalist mobility and as such it implies sharing — ownership is complexity. 

Automobility is maximalist mobility and it implies ownership — sharing is the wrong signal. 

A product designed to be owned is aimed squarely at the ego. Its design is driven by psychology more than utility because we hired it to tell the world about us as much as to help us. We can signal virtue, status, power or whatever we fancy.

A product designed to be shared is aimed squarely at utility and function. It is not “reflective of who we are”. 

What micromobility shows is that once a vehicle is small, light, cheap and “conforming” it can be a service. Once it’s a service it is far more likely to be popular. Even wildly popular.  The same product in private ownerships is a complete failure. 

So if micromobility is productized it tends to fail and if automobility is servitized it tends to fail. 

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Written by Long Branch Mike