Mobility of the Future

Design-Challenge: Establish an alternative mobility package for business travellers who are accustomed to the convenience, tradition, and prestige of company cars.

Project partner: Deutsche Bahn

Mobility as we know it is undergoing a transformation. Megatrends like digitalization, urbanization, sharing economy and climate change are playing an increasingly important role in the mobility sector. Adopting a new mindset is another prerequisite. The mobility of the future must be smarter, more networked and more flexible, because the priorities of the younger generation have long since changed. A balanced lifestyle and personal development now top the list of employees wants, and have replaced such status symbols as the company car. Nowadays, employees are more likely to choose a sabbatical over a raise or a BahnCard 100 over a company car. Employers need to develop creative alternatives and thus be able to offer their young, up-and-coming employees what they truly want. Getting urban employees excited about a company car is no easy task—searching for a parking space and battling traffic are just two of the more daunting challenges that having a car can bring to mind. 

Heavy traffic in a city
Railway traffic

The Idea: The “Mobility Budget”

In order to react to the evolving needs in the mobility sector, Deutsche Bahn has created a flexible mobility solution as an alternative to the classic company car. But how can such a concept be implemented? What are the wholly individual and often emotionally-inspired needs and preferences of business travelers and users of company cars that need to be considered?  To answer these questions, Deutsche Bahn commissioned a student team from the HPI School of Design Thinking. First, the students embarked on an intensive research phase in which they conducted interviews with company car drivers, car-sharing users, mobility managers of large corporations and Deutsche Bahn employees. They simulated business trips, traveled across Germany with different trains and visited DB lounges. The result of the investigation was clear: customers want choice. When it comes to getting from point A to B, they place a high priority on comfort, reliability and flexibility.

Project team mobility of the future
Icons means of transport

Transport on Demand

“Mobility Promise” has therefore been created—a mobility app that makes it possible to combine different modes of transportation, whether they be a car, public-transport or bike.
Individual settings, such as personal preferences in transportation choice and daily route, allow special solutions tailored to the user’s needs. For example, every morning a car can be reserved at a set time for the daily commute to work.

Because the app is intelligent, it proactively suggests an alternative means of transport in case of a spontaneous change in plans. For example, if a car-sharing option is not available, a rental car is booked. If a train is cancelled, a taxi is automatically notified to continue the journey. The bike module not only facilitates the rental function but includes a repair service as well. If a wheel needs repair, the bike can be parked anywhere and then after completion of the work be delivered to the place of choice. By combining different transport options, users are not limited to just one transportation mode but instead can flexibly choose between several alternatives—completely adaptable to their everyday, changing needs.

Insights into the challenges and important aspects of the Mobility Promise have contributed decisively to the ongoing development of the idea: “We have taken the elements of an interdisciplinary collaborative solution and realized them in the network initiative “driversity” ( “An important inspiration for driversity resulted from the challenge,” says Michael Birk, Director of Strategic Customer and Project Management at Deutsche Bahn. At present, a first test model of the mobility app, designed to provide employees budget-based access to local public-transport, car and bike-sharing offers, is being tested—and it might just signal the end of the company car.