Back in the early 2000’s, the tech world was enamored with the concept of convergence. It was predicted that someday you’d be able to talk, text, email – even take a picture with your phone. This convergence scrambled the technology ecosystem as device manufacturers turned into app developers, app developers turned into hardware companies, PC-makers started making phones. You know the rest.

Today, the convergence is happening in mobility. Tech companies are becoming car companies. Car companies are becoming mobility service providers. Shared mobility service providers are becoming AV platforms. And cities become the living test bed for it all.

To help make sense of this ever-changing landscape for mobility, Zipcar and the Shared Use Mobility Center decided to start a conversation. The SUMC is a valuable organization and a great partner of Zipcar who works to foster collaboration within the industry –public, private, academia – to help grow and support a variety of mobility options in cities and communities. Together, Zipcar and the SUMC brought a cross section of leaders in present, and next generation mobility for an insightful discussion about where the industry is headed, obstacles and opportunities, and how this future will impact consumers and businesses.

The event was moderated by SUMC Executive Director Sharon Feigon, and included four panelists: Tracey Zhen (President of Zipcar), Kris Carter (Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Boston), Tyler George (General Manager of Lyft in Boston), Gretchen Effegen (nuTonomy’s VP of Global Partnerships).

Throughout the event, the panelists covered topics such as transportation challenges that cities are faced with, the future role and potential evolution of public transit, and the state of autonomous vehicle innovation and the predicated   impact on the transportation landscape. The discussion was full of enthusiasm for what the future of mobility holds. Zipcar’s President Tracey Zhen explained what she viewed as the biggest challenge for cities in one word, “Growth. Urbanization is happening rapidly. In the past, we’ve been cities around each person owning and parking a personal vehicle. There is no longer space for this one to one model. Instead of building more parking and more roads, we need to think about provide new mobility choices that are more sustainable and efficient.”

Last Wednesday’s dialog at the Convergence: Future of Urban Mobility was truly thought-provoking. It was a great opportunity to share Zipcar’s ideas and vision in hopes of working together towards a future where everyone has more access to mobility options to live a car-free or car-light lifestyle.  

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