Today half of the Earth’s population lives in towns and cities, and by 2050 the figure could be 70 percent. Smog, inefficient infrastructure and chaotic road conditions are just some of the challenges in urban traffic. The solution is to have climate-friendly vehicles and connected traffic systems.

Climate-friendly vehicles

In Germany CO2 emissions from traffic have been falling continually since the year 2000, even though the volume of traffic has been continuously rising. We owe this development to the drive for innovation of the engineers – and technical development continues towards ever more efficient and lower-emissions vehicles. In global terms, this progress will not be sufficient on its own. In the emerging economies in particular, mobility and freight traffic are increasing while the population is rising sharply. Only a practically emissions-free car will be able to stop this trend towards greater vehicle emissions. One solution is electric mobility, provided that the vehicles are powered by energy from renewable sources. Audi AG is planning to ensure precisely this in the future with its “balanced mobility” concept. The company will then produce not only the vehicles, but also the sustainable energy to power them.

But electric mobility requires an intelligent charging infrastructure to be available everywhere. The key to this will be connectivity. The BMW Group, Bosch, Daimler, EnBW, RWE and Siemens are already planning to establish a charging infrastructure with a common network. Future drivers of electric vehicles should be able to charge them anywhere, quickly and simply, without having to worry about which provider operates which charging point and how payment can be made. In the future, electric vehicles could also be part of an intelligent connected energy system and thus serve as temporary stores of clean electricity.

Connected traffic systems

Vehicles constantly share information with traffic lights, dynamic road signs, traffic management centers and other road users. They know what the volume of traffic is now and what it is forecast to be. Motorists are guided strategically through the city with recommendations for the best route to take. This optimization of the traffic flow hugely reduces the amount of exhaust released into the atmosphere while saving people’s time and nerves. And that is good both for individuals and for freight traffic.

Today the logistics sector is already using Internet services supported by TelematicsTelematics is a combination of telecommunication and information technology. It is the means of linking at least two information systems using a telecommunication system and a special form of data processing. to manage transport and vehicles, so that traffic flows more smoothly and goods are delivered more efficiently. In 2009, 174,000 tons of CO2 was saved solely by customers of Daimler FleetBoard, an Internet service for intelligent fleet management. In the future, data about movements and loading of the various carriers can be matched in real time with transport orders and directed as necessary. The result is that goods arrive at their destination faster and at less cost to the environment.

You don’t have to own a car to use one

The trend towards needs-based use of various forms of transport depending on the specific route can also be seen in private transport. More flexible, more dynamic lifestyles and the desire for cost and resource efficiency have prepared the way for a whole series of new mobility services. Whether it’s car clubs, short-term rentals or car-sharing schemes – people who want to use a car do not necessarily have to own one.

The Car2Go and DriveNow schemes from Daimler and BMW are pioneers in station-independent car clubs operating without reservations – from Berlin to San Diego. Users can find vehicles in their vicinity using their smartphoneor on the Internet, and when they have finished with a vehicle it remains parked until the next driver finds it. These new types of car clubs would be inconceivable without connectivity.

People looking for a ride along the planned route can also be found using various apps, or alternatively the car can be shared with other drivers and rented jointly. Moreover, connection with the local and long-distance public transport is already taking shape. With MyCityWay BMW is financing the first generation of fully integrated Smartphone apps supplying traffic information in real time and with live camera images, or finding the best parking spot. If almost all types of transport and all road users are ultimately linked with one other, it will be possible to exploit the full efficiency potential and mobility will become more fluid, cheaper and more environmentally friendly for everyone.