Welcoming over 1.2 billion visitors a year throughout our destinations and developing more and more mixed-use projects, transportation and accessibility are strategic topics for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. URW Lab, the Group’s innovation centre, aims at identifying new mobility solutions and services with smarter and greener alternatives to offer a seamless customer journey while reducing the overall carbon footprint, 65% of which is due to visitor transportation to Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield places.
An exciting journey ahead of us to offer a seamless customer experience, with sustainable and innovative accessibility solutions
While the personal car ownership model is still prevalent in urban areas (throughout 10 major European cities, 63% of the urban population own their car), alternative modes of transport are being more and more required. There is an increasing demand for “mobility as a service” (MaaS), which means transport is becoming more and more intermodal (combination of means of transport), connected (through smartphones), personalized (tailored for each user) and convenient (on-demand).
In the meantime, a range of new innovative entrants shake the offer and decentralize transport, leveraging on users’ digital devices. For instance:
- Ride-hailing (Uber, Taxify, Grab etc.): 15-20% of the North American population used these services in 2017 because of ease of use, lower prices and convenience – by 2023 it is projected to grow at a rate of 21% a year, reaching a market size of $276 million in 2025 ;
- Electric vehicles: electric vehicles global sales reached 1 million units in 2017 and could quadruple up to 4.5 million units in 2020 (around 5% of the overall global light-vehicle market) ;
- Integrated mobility platforms, such as Moovit or Citymapper, simplify the user’s route planning ;
- Non-motorized and human-powered transport: walking, dockless bikes, kick-scooters and e-scooters ;
- Ridesharing (Karos, Blablacar) and carsharing (Car2go, Free2move,…): between 2018 and 2024, users are forecast to grow by over 20% ;
With this context in mind, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is working to make its destinations accessible through sustainable means of transport: the objective of having 75% of our visitors coming with a sustainable mode of transport by 2030 has been set back in 2015. With the rapid emergence of innovations, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has an important role to play in planning and investing in the infrastructures of tomorrow in order to foster the emergence and application of new technologies in the destinations.
Mobility: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has been going a step further on this strategic topic
Because technologies are evolving fast, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has built on its on-going efforts on mobility. URW Lab has created an ecosystem around this topic through partnerships with start-ups and think tanks and through internal studies and reports that give clear insights on mobility transformation and help nurture a vision that can be shared internally.
Hence, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has already been proactive on mobility-related issues by accumulating knowledge and implementing innovative initiatives:
- Electric vehicle charging stations are being rolled out on the Group assets: 93% of our locations are now equipped, and with the new rollout strategy, 500 charging stations will be in operation by 2020;
- URW Link has been collaborating with mobility start-ups to test new concepts and solutions, for example with Uber to develop drop-off and pick-up areas in our destinations in Europe and the US, and with ridesharing solutions in urban areas such as BlablaLines and Karos in France ;
- We are participating to research programs on driverless vehicles that contribute to meeting our CSR requirements in terms of sustainable mobility ;
- URW Lab has become a member of Via ID’s Mobility Club to actively take part in the identification of trends and evolutions in mobility ;
- Internal processes are being adapted to rethink these topics and to share the best practices with the Group’s collaborators.
Changes underway will accelerate in the years to come, so we must continue our investigations on the evolution of mobility and how this affects the Group assets. Our involvement in the mobility ecosystem is key to identify the services of tomorrow for our visitors, and we must keep collaborating with all actors, from think tanks to start-ups, to participate actively in the development of future mobility plans and innovations.Julie Villet