The Future of Mobility Has Arrived

As Bloomberg New Energy Finance gears up for its first Future of Mobility Summit in Palo Alto, Head of Research Albert Cheung and Strategic Lead for Transport Colin McKerracher reflect on how we got here.

For those of us tracking the changes sweeping through the automotive industry, 2017 was the year when the ripples became waves. It wasn’t just about the headlines, though there were many: Intel’s $15 billion acquisition of Mobileye; Shell buying into EV charging; VW Group’s bold new electrification plan; Tesla’s Model 3 launch; the U.K.’s intent to phase out sales of combustion vehicles, and China’s introduction of a New Energy Vehicle mandate – to name a few.

Even more important were the deep currents underneath those waves, driving them forward. Technology improvements in batteries, communications networks, sensors and machine learning are pulling timelines forward in a way that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago. Governments are setting aggressive targets for the types of vehicles they want on their roads while also scrambling to ensure regulation is keeping up with technology. The financial community has realized that everybody from miners in Western Australia to taxi operators in Delhi will be impacted by how the system evolves. Mobility is entering a period of profound transformation.

In just the first two weeks of 2018, Volkswagen and Hyundai announced plans to integrate self-driving technology by 2021 and China’s Baidu announced that it is aiming for a similar timeline. GM showed off its first car with no steering wheel. Ford CEO Jim Hackett gave the keynote at CES and used it to talk about how shared mobility and autonomous freight delivery services will help reduce urban congestion. Meanwhile, China announced that electric cars hit 6% of total vehicle sales in December (driven by very generous policy support).

Sharing, electrification, and autonomous driving are set to reshape the way people and goods move over the coming decades. But none of the outcomes are guaranteed, and nor is the speed of progress. Each of these trends has created a ripple across many industries. As the ripples grow into waves, they overlap – sometimes interfering, sometimes amplifying – which in turn creates uncertainty.  At Bloomberg New Energy Finance we have been analyzing parts of the mobility transition for many years, but complex transitions require a variety of perspectives and conversations. This year, the time is right for us to convene leaders from across the spectrum to discuss and debate where the industry is heading – and to confront common challenges.

In a way, we’ve been here before. When BNEF launched the Future of Energy Summit in London back in 2008, the idea of energy transition was just emerging, and the industry was still taking shape. But the ripples were growing, and the currents were undeniable: technology improvements were pushing renewables towards the mainstream, governments around the world were stepping up their policy support, and the financial community was beginning to take notice. The time was right. Every year since then, we have continued to bring together leading voices from across the energy community to share insights and lessons learned, even as the transition has evolved, accelerated and gone global.

The Future of Mobility Summit

It’s in this spirit of collaboration that we will welcome a broad cross-section of the automotive, technology and energy community to our inaugural Future of Mobility Summit in Palo Alto, California, on February 1-2. There we’ll be discussing topics like:

  • The automaker transition, and whether global automakers face a future of renaissance or relegation
  • The pathways, timelines and impacts of shared and autonomous mobility
  • Who will provide the automotive fuel of the future?
  • The evolution of the lithium-ion battery supply chain
  • The role of policy at a national, regional and municipal level
  • New companies to watch and how innovation is changing the game

And of course, we will explore in depth the impact of all of this across the energy and automotive markets.

Why Palo Alto?

Why did we choose Palo Alto? It is undeniable that California will play a leading role in the transformation of the transport sector – the state’s position as a climate leader has only been cemented in recent years, adding to its credentials as a global center for technological innovation. A growing number of the companies at the forefront of the transition are either based in California or are expanding operations in the region – and indeed, so are we. BNEF’s west coast team has grown quickly as we’ve scaled up local coverage of EVs, intelligent mobility, energy storage and solar, and the team will be bringing its latest research to share at the Summit. And of course, Palo Alto itself is the backyard of many of the leading players in the transportation transition. So we can hardly think of a better location, just a stone’s throw from the Pacific coast, to contemplate the waves of change sweeping through the transportation sector.

We look forward to seeing you there.

If you are interested in learning more about the Summit, please email

About BloombergNEF

BloombergNEF (BNEF) is a strategic research provider covering global commodity markets and the disruptive technologies driving the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our expert coverage assesses pathways for the power, transport, industry, buildings and agriculture sectors to adapt to the energy transition. We help commodity trading, corporate strategy, finance and policy professionals navigate change and generate opportunities.
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