Si Urban: You are a trend researcher. What exactly does that mean? Marianne Reeb: My team’s task is to recognize and assess relevant developments in society, consumer behavior and mobility, and deduce the relevance and consequences they could have for Daimler’s business and products. To do that, we must stay alert, see the world with watchful eyes, talk to relevant experts and correctly interpret even the faintest signals. How do trends emerge and can they be influenced? New trends often emerge when different types of things come together, e.g. when technological and social innovations go in the same direction.
Let’s look at sharing trends as an example: the idea of sharing cars in a city is relatively old. One of the first providers, Stadtauto, was founded in the 1980s. Despite that, car sharing remained a niche phenomenon for a long time. Only when it became possible to book vehicles via smartphones did the community of users start to grow significantly. Whether trends can be influenced depends greatly on the type of trends we are talking about.
If we use the same example, the trend towards providing the right sharing offerings to customers can definitely be influenced. But other trends such as, for example, demographic trends, remain robust. The future of human mobility represents an important part of your research work. Do you think that in a few years urban cableways could play a role as a transport solution in our country as they do in South America?
In South America, cableways are important, especially as a means of democratizing mobility. Another aim is to enable residents from remote neighborhoods to seek work in city centers. But we can see interest growing in these kinds of projects in our cities too. Cableways as a means of transport can be built relatively quickly and require little space.
What lies in the future? Will there be even more cars on congested roads or are technical innovations leading us towards a more livable kind of mobility? Photo: pixabay
We have also included a cableway because it is a perfect means of transport for a city like Stuttgart where there are extreme height differences. Moreover, we consider cableways an intelligent means of transport that shifts part of the mobility load into a third dimension. And we don’t mean just passenger transport but also transport of goods by cableways. All large cities worldwide face the same problems: traffic overload, congestion and the resulting noise and environment pollution.
Not to mention the stress and health risks that people are exposed to. But despite all that, increasingly more roads and bridges are being built and more cars, buses and trucks drive on them. How come there are no other alternatives? Cableways are still not seriously considered by traffic planners. They are even laughed at and rejected as a foolish idea. Why do you think there is so much resistance to them and will it change in the future?
As I said, cableways definitely offer interesting opportunities for personal mobility and transport of goods. And I think that even here attitudes are starting to change and new, interesting opportunities for using cableways are opening up. A cableway project is currently very close to implementation in Gothenburg. What is different about Gothenburg compared to other cities? Are people there perhaps more courageous?
I am not familiar with the details of the Gothenburg project. I think it is always important to look very carefully at the purpose of such projects and, especially, the routes they are planned for. The opportunities for cableway application are still limited though I know from my discussions with cableway manufacturers that experts are working very hard on broadening them. What does your dream city of tomorrow look like in terms of transport solutions?
For me, the dream city of tomorrow offers diverse ways of getting from A to B – depending on the occasion, my mood, etc. Diversity is something strongly emphasized in today’s society so I expect that the future, too, will not be limited to just a single solution for everybody for all occasions. If well interlinked means of transport are available, choosing a particular means of transport and transferring to another will be easy. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case today – although it is true that we have made an important step forward in this regard thanks to all the new mobility apps that can link local public transport with, for example, car-sharing offerings such as “car2go” or the taxi-app “mytaxi”.