KTH Mobility Pool
Reduce size, avoid emissions, increase flexibility: This project created, tested and evaluated a pool-service for light electric vehicles in Botkyrka and in Älmhult.
In 2014 we began the research project KTH Mobility Pool, involving several partners: IKEA, Botkyrka Kommun, Hertz, Renault, Gröna Bilister, EcoTraffic, and Seamless. The project designed, tested, and evaluated an innovative approach for local mobility that aimed at changing the everyday practices of people when commuting to work. Instead of driving conventional cars to work, the project wanted to encourage people to leave them at home and combine different modes of transport, for example bicycle or public transport.
KTH Mobility Pool is a new approach to car sharing in that it integrates small size electric vehicles (Renault Twizy) and intends to offer a distinct mobility service for local mobility at a large workplace. These vehicles are suitable for short-distance mobility, have a very low environmental impact, and are energy-efficient, therefore providing a cost-effective mobility service for both users and fleet owners.
The service that was tested was based on a multi-use model with daytime users and morning/evening users referred as fodervärd (caretakers) to achieve a higher occupancy rate with different users contrary to leaving the vehicles idle. The distinctive feature of the KTH Mobility Pool service is that the morning/evening users or the fodervärdar had the possibility to ‘own’ the vehicle during evenings and weekends by being caretakers who agree to terms set by the project. Following this model, users could commute to work in the morning and pick the vehicle up in the evening to go back home.
This concept targeted individuals who have regular commuting needs but were using private fossil fueled cars for mobility. An additional distinct feature of the model was to allow high occupancy and use of vehicles, which normally would be used only parts of the day. An advantage was the short notice for borrowing option, whereby users could make almost spontaneous use of the vehicles, similar to how they would use their own car. The service model resembles bike sharing/renting which are available at various places across the city and where the user, through purchasing a season pass, can get short-term loan bikes, which can be left at any drop-off point. The service offered daytime booking with short notice, and morning/evening booking by appointment.
The research was set up as a living lab which resembled a demonstration project but that involved various stakeholders at different levels of the project, while intervening in an everyday practice of the people, who in this project, were key to the design and development of the concept throughout the testing period. The living lab was used as ‘an approach to experiment in a real-life setting and explore emerging possibilities’ where users are the active contributors.
The preliminary study for this concept showed an attractive business model. The multiple-use approach indicated that the vehicles may have high occupancy rate, thus generating more revenues for the fleet owners. It is expected that the CO2 emissions will nearly reach ‘zero level’ for specific journeys made with these vehicles and a 70% shift of occupational and private transport with regards to the targeted users even if they have a fossil-fuel car left at home. The small size electric vehicle seems an optimal vehicle with minimal energy consumption and provides maximum CO2 reduction throughout the life cycle of the product. If enough flexibility is offered to the user, that is, allowing users to get quick access to the car when they need it, the concept can have substantial impact in the development and use of electric cars for short term mobility needs.
A great focus throughout the project however, was the design of the KTH Mobility Pool model, where much research was carried out in exploring users and their behaviours when their everyday situations start to be reshaped toward more sustainable practices, the concept as a business model, and the impact of the new pool service. Creating better incentives for reaching high usage rates of this mobility alternative while engineering the service around users needs and behaviours was an important perspective of the project. On the other hand, the project also investigated if the living lab approach is an appropriate way to increase the spread of innovations.