Mobility Ecosystems and the Role of Public Policy

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Puebla (2016)


autonomous, car, connected, electric, IoT, mobility ecosystem, public policy, vehicle



Mobility trends will continuously impact the automotive industry and must result in increasing incorporation of technologies such as electrified propulsion, connectivity and autonomous systems. These solutions also include components that are being developed under the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). According to ITU- T (2015), IoT is a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies. Physical things exist in the physical world and are capable of being sensed, actuated and connected, while virtual things exist in the information world and are capable of being stored, processed and accessed. The IoT applications include various kinds of applications, e.g., "intelligent transportation systems", "smart grid", and "smart home". The applications can be based on proprietary application platforms, but can also be built upon common service/application support platform(s).


New vehicle devices, applications and services are currently been developed based on the IoT architecture. According to Ding (2015), for example, the province of Shanghai electronically monitors the use of 32,000 electric and hybrid vehicles (EVs), mainly the performance of their batteries, in order to improve technology development and incentive policies based on batteries autonomy. Objects (electric vehicles, batteries, electric charging stations) are monitored continuously and instantly (real time). In the case of batteries, 15 parameters are sensed, collected, processed and transmitted, such as power battery pack, maximum and minimum temperature, current of high voltage.

Based on Machina Research and Telefónica Digital top automaker´s survey, FORBES (2016) points that there is a huge market opportunity for connected vehicles, as multiple challenges are solved, mainly through cooperation between the automakers and mobile industries. Similarly, opportunities and challenges for EV´s connection to power grids depends also on cooperation between car manufacturers and electric power industry, as verified in recent pre-commercial experiences CODANI (2015), KEMPTON (2015).

Due innovative characteristics of these solutions, they face technological, institutional, social and cultural barriers to become market consolidated. The EVs face also the so called Carbon-lockin UNRUH (2006). Overcoming such barriers requires, on the one hand, the adoption of new strategies by companies, on the other, governments (central and local) playing key roles. Some companies adopt competencies integration strategy, i.e. Tesla automaker VANCE (2015). In other contexts, there are efforts to facilitate diverse actors´ cooperation, besides to conceive new inter-organization governance models, as in an ongoing experimental project of innovative mobility solutions, aimed also at driverless and wireless dynamic charging tests, at Satory Tracks (FAUL, 2015).

Public policies are crucial to overcome barriers to innovation. Teece (1986), for example, highlights the role of public policy in order to promote innovation, which should focus, besides R&D, on complementary assets and the underlying infrastructure. ATTIAS & MIRA BONNARDEL (2015) highlights the key role of government to decarbonize and decongest cities, and the undergoing transition from automotive industry to an ecosystem of electromobility. Given examples of regulation to reduce pollution were: European standards of CO2 emissions CAFE (Clean Air For Europe), biofuels standards (USA), low emission zones (Tokyo and Berlin), circulation with alternating traffic (Beijing), restrictions on ownership of vehicles (Shanghai). Examples of traffic management policy implemented by municipalities: congestion charge zone (London), odd-even license plate and restriction for non-residents (Beijing), High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (HOV) (Los Angeles). In addition to these, several countries have implemented policies to overcome barriers to the development and dissemination of EVs, i.e., USA[1], Japan[2], China[3] and Europe[4]. Most studies reinforce the need for coordinated policies to eliminate market failures and to face the Carbon-lockin, which can prevent the spread of EVs. Besides, Kempton & Petit (2014) highlight the public policies to better integrate EVs to the power grid.

Taking into account verified evidences about mobility and the automotive industry transitions, besides pertinent issues on innovation literature, this study aims at understanding the role of public policy in overcoming barriers to establishing new vehicle technologies. Its working method has been mainly surveying and analyzing literature, such as scientific papers and industries focused studies, regarding: i) the context of the automotive industry transformation; ii) new technological trajectories of the automobile industry; iii) ecosystems and emerging business models; iv) challenges to the new technological trajectories; v) public policies to overcome such challenges.

The main findings about automotive industry major changing forces, were: i) stronger market development on emerging countries, which also leads to the formation of joint ventures and partnerships between global and emerging companies; ii) main transforming technologies are electrification of vehicle propulsion, connected and autonomous vehicles; iii) changing user preferences, especially new generation, which are already more prone to connectivity and green cars and consider vehicle ownership less relevant; iv) intensifying environmental policies. Technological trajectories have provided understanding on main architectures and components, namely the automotive IoT to connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as the EVs´ powertrains.

Among the challenges for the realization of the identified technological trajectories, it is important that actors acquire better ecosystem understanding, besides business models evolution capabilities. Regarding automotive IoT ecosystem, it has been found key roles, as well as business models possibilities depending on the customer profile (business, consumer) and degree of openness of the ecosystem (open, closed). In the case of EVs, it relevant designing flexible business models and partnering in the ecosystem.

The public policies for EVs´ diffusion and technology development has showed many applied instruments of policies, selected from a large number of references[5], i.e.: exemption from automobile registration; exemption from annual circulation tax; tax credits or sales tax reductions; rebates based on emissions and battery size; free parking in certain areas; free charging at public stations; public procurement for innovation; incentive plans and grants for R&D; investment incentives towards electric recharging infrastructure; Smart Grid projects. The policy surveys that favor the development of the automotive IoT is in progress.

This conducted survey and analysis has indicated preliminarily that new automotive industry technological trajectories have emerged in recent years. Some of its technologies are disruptive and have the potential to transform the structure of the automotive industry and the main ways of creating value. Information technology industry and energy industry have the potential to become more relevant in the growing ecosystems. There are indications that companies will have to adapt continuously to act more focused on the ecosystem that comprehends its new solutions and business models. Business models will be more effective as long actors have greater influence on the ecosystem. In such context, developing dynamic capabilities will be crucial.

The performance of companies will greatly depend on strategic decisions involving integrating new capabilities or outsourcing them from the ecosystem. Whatever the business strategy selected, the role of governments will also be crucial, once well-enforced policies can assist in overcoming the technical, institutional and cultural barriers, including creating conditions so that companies might become more ecosystems focused.

[1] Califórnia ZEV - zero emission mandate-1990; Energy Policy Act-2005; Energy Independence and security Act/2007; Energy improvement and extension Act-2008; American Clean Energy and Security Act-2009; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-2009; EV Everywhere Grand Challenge Blueprint-2012;

[2] Ahman (2006); Next-generaton vehicle stategy-2010.

[3] Five-year Plan of Intelligentization Program of Sate Grid Corporation of China/2010

[4] Alvarez R. et. Al (2015)

[5] CPFL R&D DPCT 2nd. Report (2015). Campinas. 2015.


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