The bundling of electricity and mobility services: consumer engagement with new business models

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2017)


Electric Mobility; New Business Models; Energy Services


 The acceleration of both electric vehicles and mobility as a service (MAAS) requires new business models to link at least three sectors that have previously operated in isolation from one another; the auto industry, energy systems and transport infrastructure and service provision. Given the immaturity of this ‘innovation interface’ [1], there is much to learn about the possible institutional, financial, geographical and partnership arrangements that could evolve, and how each of these may impact stakeholders, be acceptable to users and have the potential to catalyse innovation.

This paper draws upon two recent empirical studies in the UK designed to conceptualise and test possible business models. The first study used qualitative techniques (interviews and focus groups) with stakeholders in the auto industry, energy systems and transport infrastructure sectors to identify the business model needs of each sector to develop different business archetypes [1]. We will outline the ten business models developed in the study. Some of these models offer more benefits to the energy system, some are most positive for the auto industry and others link together city transport infrastructures more effectively and each is scored for its ability to catalyse the innovation interface.

The second study focuses on consumer engagement with these possible new futures. The study took a selection of different electricity and mobility product ‘bundles’ and ways of accessing and paying for these services and tested these in a questionnaire survey across a representative sample of UK households (N=2025, March 2017). Current engagement by consumers with the energy system was elicited as well as their perceptions and preferences relating to trust, flexibility, control, cost and desirability of combined mobility and energy services in the various hypothetical futures. In this paper, we will present the quantitative results and answer questions such as: Are some archetypes complete non-starters with consumers? Are some only attractive to tiny portions of society? Are some attributes (such as the level of green energy or local supply) more or less important to future customers than we think? What do consumers understand and value about the possible bundling of electricity and mobility services in the future?

These timely and innovative empirical results allow conclusions to be drawn on the implications of different business models for users, system regulation, technologies and wider systems, but also the likely obstacles to be encountered in terms of consumer acceptance and take-up. In the first study, issues of consumer trust, data protection and driver convenience were highlighted in the user implications. From a system regulation perspective there are serious questions over how consumers can be protected given more complex tariffs, and how to avoid new business models ‘cherry-picking’ consumers. From a technology perspective, ICT integration and data access are key concerns, along with battery degradation protection. From a systemic perspective there are clear gains to be had in optimising energy systems and reducing transport pollution; but there is still uncertainty over knock on effects of storage on traditional energy markets. In the second study, early results indicate consumer segments differentiated according to their current engagement with their electricity demand and supply contexts, problem perception, innate innovativeness and desire for flexibility, trust in energy suppliers and automotive manufacturers, imagination of an electric and less private car-ownership orientated future. These segments will be presented together with the implications of engaging widely with private users for future utility business models and system transitions.

[1] HALL, S., SHEPHERD, S. & WADUD, Z. 2017. The Innovation Interface. Business model innovation for electric vehicle futures. University of Leeds

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