Dual-Mode Transportation Picks Up Speed
Incorporating smaller, secondary vehicles into traditional cars is a growing trend.
You may not have heard the term “dual-mode transportation” yet, but it could become very familiar since the trend is gaining momentum in other, more crowded parts of the world. It applies to vehicles that provide dual modes of transport, such as a car that integrates a second transportation device -- say, a scooter.
Evidence of the growth of dual-mode transportation was abundant at the recent Beijing Auto Show. This is likely because China is facing serious pollution and congestion problems similar to other heavily populated parts of the world, but on a more massive scale. For many Chinese commuters, it makes sense to have a larger, traditional vehicle that also includes a smaller electric transportation device that can go where cars can’t.
And since car ownership is projected to grow rapidly in the densely populated Brazil, Russia, India and China, congestion and the cost of city-center parking will also rise exponentially. So getting from the suburbs to downtown may increasingly call for mixing modes of transportation.
A car will get you only so far in many parts of the world because of traffic delays, not to mention it’s more cost-effective to park where it’s cheapest. That’s when (and where) a commuter breaks out, say, an electric scooter to get from parking spot to final destination. Two-wheeled vehicles are already a mainstay of China's personal inner-city transportation, and scooter sales are expected to skyrocket.
To put it in perspective, China became the world's largest automobile market in 2009, with 13.6 million vehicles sold. But by 2012, China had 120 million electric scooters, and they’ve only been readily available for the past seven years or so -- which means sales averaged at least 15 million per year during that period.
So it’s a smart move for Chinese and other automakers to consider combining traditional cars with other forms of transport. Plus, an electric or hybrid vehicle with a large-capacity battery makes it easy to ensure that a smaller electric transport is always charged and ready to go.
It’s not just scooters that are being considered to augment cars. Everything from traditional bikes to personal pods to ATV-type quads and even Segway-style skis are being developed, as this photo gallery shows. And it’s not just Chinese automakers but big brands such as BMW, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota getting in on the dual-mode game.
Even if you live in one of the most crowded cities in U.S., you likely won't have ever need dual-mode transportation the way someone in, say, New Delhi would. Although, on closer inspection many of these secondary vehicles look like fun, particularly BMW’s Streetcarver skateboard.
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