The Covid-19 Impact On Mobility

Andrew Sparrow
5 min readFeb 15, 2021


The pandemic has fundamentally changed people’s mobility behavior.

When it comes to our mobility, we are creatures of habit that are not typically easy to change. When it comes to why people travel as well as the top criteria for selecting the transportation mode of choice — both have been impacted by Covid-19, and not just for the short-term.

We’ve adopted new habits: more streaming, more deliveries, more working from home. Plus, we’ve seen a significant drop in greenhouse gases. Mobility players are now expected to expand their online, digital and sustainable offerings.

Many cities have redefined car lanes to create more space for bikes and scooters as people began to avoid public transportation.

A return to public transport?

The habitual shifts are likely to persist long after COVID-19. Many are questioning the return to public transport and are therefore seeking alternate and cost-effective forms of private transport. Rapid access to micro-mobility options: lightweight vehicles such as bicycles (+5%), e-scooters, and mopeds, will be important, along with safety and health precautions.

For the expected refocus toward the private vehicle, this is expected to see a number of shifts, both in terms of the buying experience and more sustainable transport.

The buying experience

Already 80% of car buyers are using online sources to find their most suitable vehicles.

Furthermore, only a third of the 18–34-year-old customers would prefer to buy their next vehicle at the dealership rather than online

Good News for the BEV

This refocus on private vehicles, combined with a need for sustainability is great news for the BEV sector.

Various studies predicted a decrease in global vehicle sales for the entire 2020. However, this decrease was not seen in Europe. In fact, in September of 2020, registrations of EVs, including pure electric, plug-in hybrids, full & mild, overtook diesel cars. Only 10yrs ago diesel was 50% of sales and EVs, just 1%

Around 600 new battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plugin-hybrid EVs, are expected through 2025.

And, as I often say, a good EV starts with the Battery, the electronics and software. Components that will be in strong demand include electronic control units (ECUs) and domain control units (DCUs). Software — functions, operating systems, middleware — will account for $50 billion in annual sales.

Capital expenditures for BEVs will probably double over the next five years, while investments in other vehicles decline.

Other Transport

Autonomous Public Transport

COVID-19 is likely to have a considerable impact on the deployment of Autonomous Vehicles, particularly due to keeping transit operators safe from the virus. Around the world, transport agencies are employing safety measures such a rear-door boarding, eliminating on-board fare payment and installing panels next to the driver, significantly reducing driver exposure if travelers are paying their fare on-board or simply boarding through the front door. If AVs could be pushed through sooner, drivers would not be exposed to the virus.

Artificial Intelligence

As we advance further with AI, we are seeing the impact of C-19 is significant:

  1. Customer experience improvement through digital assistants
  2. Optimization of operational efficiency through predictive analysis of mobility demand
  3. Autonomous dispatching and operations to better meet the increasing demand and dynamic environmental changes
  4. Effective preventive maintenance operations
  5. Preventive safety and security management using AI powered video analytics.

Each of these areas represents a reduction in staffing and human contact or proximity.

Kerb-side Operations

Of course one of the main changes has been the introduction of kerb-side pick-up. Many cities have been making changes to allow short-term parking to allow food take away, and reduce or eliminate parking near areas that attract large groups of people (e.g., beaches, parks). Technology-enabled kerb-side solutions are facilitating these actions during the pandemic.


Unfortunately a somewhat brittle sector that’s been hit hard with the downturn. However, those that see through this pandemic can see a new traveler coming their way. One that previously commuted on public transport may well be looking for something more private, hopefully affordable and of course sustainable.

Many other technology developments are altering the mobility landscape, and innovation will continue to have a major impact throughout ‘21:

  • With software and high tech becoming more important to vehicles, automakers are increasingly looking for new pools of talent and an innovative R&D model. Of course. this is I/we come in — provisioning some of the greatest innovation, design and manufacturing talent for the ACES Revolution (Autonomous, Connected, Electric & Subscription Vehicles)
  • 5G technology, with its superior speed, latency, reliability, and power consumption for handsets and IoT devices, has recently become mainstream in many sectors, and there are interesting use cases related to mobility.
  • Quantum computing could assist with many steps across the automotive value chain as suppliers, OEMs, dealerships, and others take advantage of its power.
  • and one of my favorites — Urban air mobility is becoming more cost-competitive and could offer new mobility options, provided that sufficient pilots are available.

It takes Talent, Teamwork & Change!

Pulling together and connecting one of the most engaged ACES communities, is something I love doing. Please let me know, if anyone can be of help in your latest program. Putting great people into great programs and businesses is what I/we do

many thanks, Andrew



Andrew Sparrow

Engineering & Implementation Resources/Solutions in Product Lifecycle & Smart Manufacturing - Shows, Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts for the Future World