Opinion

The importance of Mobility In Latin America

An old smoky, noisy and crowded bus is a traditional picture of Latin America, as are the black cabs in the UK or the three wheelers in India.

Traffic could be a nightmare in major cities where sometimes two level motorways face the second or third floor of buildings. On the continent, more than 100 million residents are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution and are wasting precious time every day in a car or a bus. Urban population increase has had a direct impact on the expansion of large cities, some of which are among the most populated worldwide (Mexico DF, Lima, Rio). People are commuting from very far away and spend hours to reach their place of work. Contamination has become a major concern and local authorities have started to regulate traffic. In Mexico City, during a spike in air pollution, certain vehicles were on occasions banned from driving for up to three days a week.

  • Some governments are trying to fix that but changes take time. Cities have started to develop initiatives to organize public transportation based on buses, quicker and more economic to implement, while subways are exceptions in some cities, and often insufficient due to passenger demand.
  • On the other side, the private sector is developing many innovations from electric vehicles, buses, bikes or car sharing Apps that will transform Latin America.

Structural change

Last week (May 8 & 9, 2018), Mexico hosted the first regional mobility meeting, supported by international organisations such as the UN Environment and the World Bank among others: Urban growth in Latin America is constant, and by 2020 it is expected that the large cities of Latin America will have an additional 90 million inhabitants. This population increase has a direct impact on the conditions of regional mobility: more congestion, more pollution and lower quality of life, so taking measures that involve a structural change is "key" said the organisation.

The field of mobility is therefore a relevant element in the development of Latin America and the quality of life of its inhabitants.  Within this context, corporates are looking for new solutions. Fleet managers are expanding their responsibilities from company cars policies and management to mobility, involving their HR colleagues. Leasing companies have started offering hybrid or electric cars to avoid driving bans.

This could in part explain the impressive growth of Uber, present in a hundred cities (between 70 and 80% of the ride-hailing market in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Colombia) and the appetite of other newcomers (Cabify, Easy taxi, 99 recently bought by Didi Chuxing).

The use of these platforms will increase, as a supplement to company cars, as businesses seek to better support employee mobility. At the same time, they offer a new segment for leasing companies, as drivers seek to finance the vehicles.

Car-sharing solutions are also flourishing, supported by corporates willing to organize their employees’ transportation.

All these innovative projects will contribute to improving the quality of life of a population that directly suffers the impact of road congestion throughout the region.

If you would like to discover more about Innovation and Mobility, participate in the 2018 Global Fleet Conference in Rome where there is a dedicated session on Fleet Management. A unique occasion to learn and network.

Authored by: Pascal Serres