Future of mobility in Latin America
Although disruptive technologies aimed at bringing innovative transportation modes to Latin America has taken the back seat to traditional modes of transport in the past, the tide has been turning thanks to the recent growth of technology and creativity in the region.
Unlike many countries in Europe and other regions of the world, Latin America is very much tied to traditional transportation such as buses, trains, and metro systems. Owning a car is also quite important for most individuals as it is seen by many as a prestigious asset.
However, in the last three years or so, Latin America has slowly been changing and the trend is expected to continue on into the future. Many young commuters are putting less importance on owning a car and opting instead for on-demand transportation services such ride-hailing, also known as eHailing.
"eHailing is currently among the fastest growing of new mobility business models, and it is expected to offer billion dollar market potential by 2025,” Frost & Sullivan consultant and LatAm research manager Yeswant Abhimanyu told Global Fleet.
As many large cities (São Paulo, Mexico City, Bogota) do not have the condition to sufficiently transport commuters to and from work, their collective transportation systems often operate above capacity during peak times, making commute time quite uncomfortable.
Sao Paulo metro station (CREDIT: AFP)
As such, multinational companies and startups alike have been coming up with alternatives in addition to ride-hailing services. Among them are car sharing, bike sharing, air-taxi, integrated mobility, and corporate mobility services.
"As for bike sharing, municipal governments have been offering this service through public-private partnerships, and we are expecting this service to double by 2023. This will help with the sustainable initiatives of cities,” said Abhimanyu.
The transition of the industry, however, has not come smoothly. Besides governments trying to figure out how to regulate the new players in the market, the competitive landscape is ever changing, something that has resulted in a number of mergers, acquisitions, and non-traditional investments.
Companies in the spotlight
Over the next few years, a few companies are worth keeping an eye on.
Among those to be operating in Latin America are car eHailing companies Uber (USA), Cabify (Spain), Meleva (Brazil), 99 (China), Easy Taxi (Brazil), Laudrive (Mexico), and BlaBlaCar (France), as well as airplane taxi service Flapper (Brazil) and helicopter taxi service Voom (USA).
Others include car-share companies ZazCar (Brazil), Urbano LDSharing (Brazil), Carot (Mexico), and Awto (Chile), in addition to corporate car pool services Bynd (Brazil) and ALD Sharing (France), and bike-share services Bike Sampa (Brazil) and Ecobici (Argentina).
Finally, public transportation management app Moovit (Israel) and GPS navigation service Waze (USA) are two other services seen doing well in Latin America.
Zazcar staton (CREDIT: Creative Commons)