KTH Mobility Pool
Reduce size, avoid emissions, increase flexibility: This project will create, test and evaluate a pool-service for light electric vehicles in Botkyrka and in Älmhult.
In 2014, the Integrated Transport Research Lab (ITRL), a research centre at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, begun a research project called KTH Mobility Pool involving several partners: IKEA, Botkyrka Kommun, Hertz, Renault, Gröna Bilister, EcoTraffic, and Seamless. The project is designing, testing, and will evaluate an innovative approach for local mobility that aims at changing an everyday practice of people when commuting to work. Instead of driving conventional cars to work, the project wants to encourage people to leave them at home and combine different modes of transport as well i.e. bicycle or public transport.
KTH Mobility Pool is a new approach to car sharing for 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-term mobility and they 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 will be tested is 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 KTH Mobility Pool service is that the morning/evening users or the fodervärdar will have the possibility to ‘own’ the vehicle during evenings and weekends by being caretakers who agree to terms set by the project, whereas in the mornings they can commute to work and pick it up in the evening to go back home. This concept targets individuals who have regular local and at work commuting needs but currently use private fossil fueled car for mobility. An additional distinct feature of the model is to allow high occupancy and use of vehicles, which normally would be used only parts of the day. An advantage will be the short notice for borrowing option, whereby users can almost make spontaneous use similar to how they would use their own car. The service model resembles to 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 will offer daytime booking within short notice, and morning/evening booking with appointment.
The research is set up as a living lab which resembles a demonstration project but that is involving various stakeholders at different levels of the project, while intervening in an everyday practice of the people, who in this project, are key to the design and development of the concept throughout the testing period. The living lab is 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 has also shown an attractive business model. The multiple-use approach indicates 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 project can have substantial impact in the development and use of electric cars for short term mobility needs.
A great focus throughout the project however, is the design of the KTH Mobility Pool model, where much research will be 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 rate of this mobility alternative while engineering the service around users needs and behaviours is an important perspective of the project. On the other hand, the project is also investigating if the living lab approach is an appropriate way to increase the spread of innovations.