Volvo Car Mobility is a standalone company from the Swedish automaker, based in Stockholm. Formed in spring 2017, the brand is focused on a shared economy and changing the relationship between cars and cities.
Erik Jivmark, the Chief Digital Officer at Volvo Car Mobility – and only the second employee to join the company – is now part of a team consisting of over 100 executives from startups, digital agencies and industrial design firms.
In 2018, it announced its first brand ‘M’, which offers urban and metro consumers digitally-enabled access to a car whenever and wherever they need it. Despite its infancy, the service will be based on Sweden’s car-sharing company, Sunfleet, providing two decades of experience in mobility services. Pair this with Volvo’s heritage and you’ve got serious potential.
“Over the past few years, Volvo Car Group has established a few standalone companies to focus on the megatrends within mobility: electrification, autonomous technology, and shared economy,” explains Jivmark. “Volvo Car Mobility represents the latter and an idea to change our relationship to cars in cities.”
We live in a world going through a tech-enabled shift from ownership to accessibility, which heavily involves modern transport. Cities are growing, which is putting extreme stress on roads and, most importantly, the climate. To reclaim space within urban environments around the world, there is a desperate need for solutions that enable freedom and cut carbon emissions.
“With so many cities imploding with cars, we need more sustainable solutions to unlock access and enable the freedom that cars have long represented – ultimately reducing congestion and reclaiming space for cities,” adds Jivmark.
Personal or Public – How About Both?
In the dawn of the new mobility era, automakers are at risk of falling behind if they cling onto conventional business structures. Volvo isn’t one of these.
Last year, Volvo announced a new ambition to build over 5 million direct consumer relationships by the middle of the next decade. This isn’t exactly clear, but it does illustrate a change in ideology, focusing on the importance of exploring new avenues away from such things as linear buy-to-sell models.
Despite this, Jivmark still doesn’t believe that we will see the death of car ownership anytime soon. For him, it’s all about understanding people’s everyday needs, which varies based on geographic position, livelihood and personal life. For M, it’s about drawing the best of both worlds: ownership and shared services.
“When you live in a city, your need for a car is very different than when you live in less densely populated areas or without access to public transportation. Traditional car ownership meets a need for many people; and for urban and metro consumers, we believe dependable, personal access to a car is an important complement to public transportation and micro mobility,” he says.
Mobility-as-a-service has developed into a viable option for many in the city. But, as Jivmark says, there are still many cases where owning a vehicle is a necessity. By bringing both worlds together, M has focused on longer use cases, from an hour to a few days.
“The services we see on the market today are focused on short trips within cities: going across town for a meeting or getting home after a night out,” he adds. “We see M as a complement to public transportation and work with cities to make a positive impact. From our experience with Sunfleet, we know that one M car can take the place of more than 5 privately owned cars – we’re excited to scale this impact.”
So what does the future hold for Volvo Car Mobility?
Well, M has been designed and developed to understand intent through data. This means it can predict where and when demand occurs, and provide dependable access to cars. Using a data-informed approach and operational design to unlock the station-based model, it will aim to deliver greater availability to more people, allowing a seamless service to customers.
“It has been an incredible journey so far. We do things differently – in how we build our product, grow our team, manage our cars and more,” says Jivmark.
First launching the service in Sweden last month, Jivmark and his team are already looking at expanding into the US, and are ready to penetrate other markets outside of the continent. In a rapidly growing market with plenty of competition, Volvo needs to expand quickly if it wants to have a leading global mobility service.
“In May, we launched a small beta in Stockholm, making our full service available for the first time. We are continuing to develop and improve the service based on feedback and learnings through this next stage and will grow with demand, starting in Sweden and then in our first market in the US”