- NextGenerationEU represents an opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or scale their presence in existing markets
- EU member states are seeking to digitalise their transport infrastructure and introduce or improve smart, sustainable mobility options as rapidly as possible, with hundreds of projects set to kick off over the next couple of years
- The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone team can help you find the right mobility projects to target
- Click or scroll down for more information about the mobility market in:
Mobility is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Europe. That’s no surprise, given the urgency of the fight to reduce emissions and combat climate change, the surge in digital technologies enabling smart cities and towns, and the reasonable desire of urban dwellers in particular to get around quickly and easily.
Mobility covers public transport such as buses, trams and trains, along with active modes such as cycling, shared mobility solutions such as scooters and bicycles, and electric vehicles, along with data-driven solutions for traffic management and other challenges.
The multi-billion euro flood of NextGenerationEU funding, distributed through national recovery and resilience plans, is amping up the speed of growth in this already soaring sector. The influx of funding amplifies what is already a significant opportunity for Irish companies to enter new markets or scale their operations in other markets.
Mobility cuts across three of the six pillars of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility: the green transition, digital transformation and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Irish firms thriving in Europe
A significant cluster of Irish companies is already winning business across the mobility space in Europe.
Taoglas, for example, provides antennae for micromobility products to significant players such as fifteen (previously Zoov), while CitySwift is pushing to digitialise the management of bus routes and Civic offers cities the ability to better manage traffic through sensors and data.
Zeus, an Irish company that operates three-wheeled electric scooter hire services, is already offering services in more than 20 German cities, as well as in Croatia, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Malaysia. Anadue, with which Zeus partners, is another Irish firm active in the space – it offers analytics for micromobility.
“Clusters like this offer a competitive advantage,” explains Jens Altmann, Enterprise Ireland’s sector lead for future mobility, “because the Irish are very good at collaborating and forming a joint offer, which can be a stronger proposition. And of course you can leverage networks through the other companies in the cluster.”
He adds that, regardless of the market, any potential entrant needs to consider how they will add value to the local mobility ecosystem.
“People will choose the local offer if it is the same. You need a strong selling point, which you get through collaborating or having a stronger technology than others.
“Irish companies tend to be deeper in the value chain. They’re good at niche enabling technologies and world leaders in some fields. Therefore, it’s crucial to build up networks and to have local partners. That’s key for most mobility companies, especially for new market entrants.”
Understand the opportunity
Significant current opportunities in most if not all European markets include charging infrastructure and other ways of optimising electric, connected or automated vehicles. Mobility as a service, where a user can plan, book and pay for a trip across multiple modes of transport in one app, is also of widespread interest.
Shared mobility remains an opportunity, but especially in smaller Tier 2 markets as capitals and other large cities are typically saturated. It’s worth checking dive.fluctuo.com for an overview.
Data management, data privacy, cybersecurity and systems integrity are also key opportunities, as true smart mobility hinges on both public and private sectors aligning on how to protect the oceans of data produced and used in this context.
Take time to access the market context
Across the EU, developments in mobility involves an interplay between the public and private sectors, and it’s vital to understand the balance before entering any new market.
“All these kind of transport systems or mobility systems need to be integrated, centralised and consolidated,” explains Altmann.
“That is all steered by the governments and the cities that regulate the market. Therefore, they’re the decision makers in the end. Either you tender to sell to the city or you get them to allow you to position your scooters for the consumer business.”
As in any sector, it’s important to gather market intelligence, appreciate the need for localisation and work to build local networks if you want to break into the mobility space in any EU market.
Expert advisors in Enterprise Ireland’s network of office across Europe, together with its Market Research Centre in Dublin can support your business as it investigates market opportunities, including by making local introductions and helping you to build your network.
If you are not sure where to start your export journey, get in touch.
Belgium remains car-dependent, with more than 30% of 1-2km journeys still made by car, but the entire mobility ecosystem is changing.
The mobility landscape in Belgium
Powered by a steady influx of investment capital, the private sector has led the way in Belgium, driven by:
- Rapid technological innovation (such as electric powertrains and automated driving systems)
- New business models, including transport network companies
- Increased use of drones, electric scooters and bikes
The public sector has also ramped up activity, with the federal government raising taxes to fund charging stations, for example, while Flanders plans to build 30,000 of them.
Congestion charges are also coming. The SmartMove initiative aims to reduce traffic emissions by 5% and time lost to traffic jams by 32% in the Brussels-Capital Region (one of the top 10 most congested cities in Europe), by levying a per-kilometre charge on all passenger and delivery vehicles.
Key stakeholders in Belgium
- Federal and regional government departments, including FPS Mobility & Transport and the Departement MobiliteitOpenbare Werken & De Lijn
- Public sector mobility providers such as SNCB
- Mobility-focused organisations like ITS.be, Brussels Mobility and Mobilité Wallonie
- International mobility networks such as POLIS and AVERE
Understand the mobility opportunity in Belgium
With €1.3 billion in EU funding allocated to transforming mobility in Belgium, rail is the main national priority, with funding of €675m. Over €400m is going to finance cycling infrastructure across the country, with a strong emphasis on enabling commuters to travel by electric bikes).
The greening of transport (€210m) is also a key focus, with Flanders and Brussels having requested €93m and €55m in European funds to green their bus networks.
In particular, Irish companies seeking to break into the Belgian market will find opportunities in cities such as Ghent, Liege and Leuven, and in areas such as:
- Digitalisation of mobility
- Road safety
Electric transport, including vehicles, bikes and scooters
Selling into Belgium
Broadly speaking, Belgium ranks highly in innovation and is a good “test market” for companies looking to grow into the broader European markets by establishing a local presence or through trade.
With high levels of English fluency, language is not necessarily a barrier to entry here and Belgium is a very open economy, due to its compact size. There are also challenges, as Belgium has a complicated government structure – highly relevant when it comes to mobility – with one federal government, three regional governments, 10 provinces and 581 municipalities!
Do your research before entering the market and make most of the knowledge and networks of local contacts and associations.
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Having tended to lag in digitalisation, France is investing heavily in mobility and plans to be a leader in the mobility of tomorrow.
The mobility landscape in France
France is a highly industrial and engineering-focused country. Its digitalisation adoption is a step behind, but it expects to close the gap rapidly.
Under the France Relance plan, France plans to install seven million vehicle charging points for by 2030. It also wants to see 5.3 million EVs on the road by 2028, with €1.3 billion earmarked to incentivise people to buy them.
Other key priorities include:
- Connected mobility
- Modernising rail networks for both freight and passengers (train, metro, tramway and bus)
- Rail network security
- Cycling infrastructure
- 5G and quantum technologies to develop future mobility, such as connected and autonomous vehicles.
Furthermore, France is looking to mobility 3.0 and the need for sensor technology, wireless communications, computing, real-time and localisation technologies, electronic payment, traffic management, flow and security, and fleet and freight management.
Key stakeholders in France
- Local, regional and national government
- Enedis for charging infrastructure
- Public sector mobility service providers such as SNCF-Thalys-RATP
- Private sector mobility providers such as Blablacar and Keolis
Understand the mobility opportunity in France
While smart transport and shared mobility are strong in Paris and the other main cities in France, there is a significant opportunity around micromobility in smaller cities, such as Toulouse or Montpellier. It’s worth noting, however, that local authorities won’t be rushed in making decisions.
Overall, the French government is investing €570 million in an acceleration strategy to digitalise and decarbonise mobility, and the call for projects is open.
ADEME, the government’s ecological transition agency, is focusing on:
- the development of less consuming and less polluting vehicles
- sustainable organisation of transport systems
- behaviour change, including the use of mobility services, active modes, public transport and clean vehicles
Work to renew and modernise the French road network is being accelerated, which in turn opens up significant opportunities around :
- Digital road monitoring and predictive maintenance of road infrastructure
- Intelligent refuelling management systems for electric mobility
Companies offering products and services designed to optimise the power supply in order to support charging systems, rail services and so on will also find significant opportunities in France.
Selling into France
The mobility scene is becoming busy and French companies strongly prefer French partners, but there are opportunities for innovative products and services. Flexibility in product development and collaboration is a real advantage for Irish firms.
The French market can be a long sales cycle and requires trust and reliability. You need to get to know who you are dealing with before real business can be done.
It usually helps to have a base in-market, visit regularly, or work with a local partner. If you are targeting local authorities and tenders, a French presence is a must. But patience and persistence is key.
While English fluency can be high, depending on the sector, many businesses choose to operate in French, especially where the end customers are consumers. It’s wise to seek support from an interpreter, local expert or partner.
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While engineering leader Germany is lagging when it comes to smart cities and sustainable mobility, the market is about to skyrocket.
The mobility landscape in Germany
Germany’s mobility market, which is state-owned in many areas, is not yet leading compared to other European countries, while its digital infrastructure also needs development.
Mobility here is determined by the large German automotive industry, which employs over 800,000 people. That said, German consumers, especially younger generations, appreciate eco-friendly mobility solutions such as buses, bicycles and electric vehicles.
These will come more to the fore in the coming years as the German government and companies in the market will focus increasingly on sustainable mobility. Its current focus is on connectivity such as 5G for public transport and on regulations around micro-mobility.
The electric vehicle market is expected to grow by 25% a year by 2026, with shared mobility growing by almost 12% annually over the same period, bringing user penetration to 79.5% from 66.4% in 2022.
The integration and interdependence of private firms (typically operators and solutions providers) and public players, such as municipalities, regulators and also operators, in the ecosystem is a major topic at present.
Understand the mobility opportunity in Germany
As Germany is lagging somewhat in terms of digital infrastructure, Irish firms have an opportunity to enter this market, as it is not at all saturated or fully developed yet.
Several Irish firms are already active here, including:
- Zeus Scooters in over 20 cities
- Cubic Telecom, which works with German carmaker Volkswagen on in-vehicle connectivity,
- Luna Systems, which is collaborating with TIER Mobility GmbH, Europe’s largest micro-mobility provider, on a test for supplying security solutions for scooters.
Furthermore, the German ecosystem is proactively seeking new technologies and spending significant sums on new partnerships and technologies.
Across the board, Germany tends to appreciate quality and be willing to pay for it, so is not overly price-sensitive, and it can onboard innovative solutions quickly.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is providing research and development funding for all aspects of electric mobility, including drive technology, battery research, standardisation, the value chain, grid integration, charging stations that use smart metering technology, and infrastructure.
Selling into Germany
While the standard of English is typically good, German is often spoken in a business context and companies entering the market need German language skills.
In addition, the German market can have challenging barriers to entry, as potential entrants need to build trust and relationships first, which can involve upfront costs and a long sales cycle. However, when the trust relationship is established, you have the basis for a long and fruitful relationship.
Germany is currently working on the development of a future-proof integrated mobility infrastructure, which still provides challenges for the country. While the mobility market is not hugely competitive yet, once a market opens up, Germans tend to be fast in adopting and creating their own solutions.
Be as prepared and committed as you can. Germany isn’t a market for opportunistic sales. If possible, a physical presence there and constant visits to the market for trade shows and direct prospect visits are key for success. This ensures you can take advantage of the long lasting opportunity the German market offers.
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Italy is shedding its reputation for slow digitalisation, with a boom in micromobility and extensive funding for smart and sustainable mobility.
The mobility landscape in Italy
Committed to the European Green Deal 2050 and with aggressive targets to reduce emissions, Italy is focusing on sustainable mobility and smart infrastructure. Smart mobility projects are already underway in Milan, Napoli, Sardegna and Veneto.
One in three people in Italy have changed transport modes due to the pandemic, with a clear shift from public transport to driving, walking and shared mobility.
While Italy has been slow to digitalise, it is one of the fastest growing markets for shared mobility, driven by concerns around climate change, fuel costs and inflation.
Micromobility is booming, with eight in 10 Italians willing to leave their cars to use shared scooters and bikes. This is positive, as Italy trails only Luxembourg in the EU for car dependency.
Key stakeholders in Italy
- City councils
- Italian firms such as Bitt, Helbiz and Leonardo, which have market intelligence, national operations and significant bargaining power
- International entrants, including Bird, Lime and Tier
Understand the mobility opportunity in Italy
Through the NextGeneration EU fund, Italy is receiving €31.4 billion to develop infrastructure for sustainable mobility and €68.8 billion overall for greening its economy and infrastructure.
There’s particular focus on:
- Smart transport and logistics
- Smart cities, with sustainable and smart mobility at their core
While Italy is a highly competitive market, if not a saturated one, for shared mobility in Tier 1 cities, there is plenty of opportunity in smaller Tier 2 cities around shared mobility services, such as scooters. That is due in particular to the favourable climate, tourism, and the strong university culture in these cities.
Selling into Italy
Irish firms will need a partner in the market to help navigate the extremely competitive market and local government bureaucracy, and to be made aware of and compete for tenders.
Although competitors may already have a strong market share, there are opportunities for Irish companies to partner with them with white-label software solutions for smart mobility.
To navigate the bureaucratic nature of public tenders in Italy, engage with a local partner or hire locally. Italian competitors have invested heavily in recruiting city managers, operations teams, and public policy teams to help scale operations.
Local laws and tender regulations differ in every municipality so liaise with a local legal or policy expert.
Another potential route to market is developing a partnership with an established transport or mobility company in Italy that wants to expand its smart mobility portfolio on the back of national initiatives and a booming private sector.
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Ranked first in Europe for green mobility, the Netherlands remains a good testing ground for smart mobility initiatives, with high levels of innovation and low language barriers.
The mobility landscape in the Netherlands
With excellent transport and logistics infrastructure, the Netherlands is a leader in this space. The Dutch are always on the move, and the government is looking at new technologies to solve challenges related to transport, the environment and safety.
Famous for its love of cycling, the Netherlands had an estimated 22.9m bicycles in 2019 (more than one per person), including 2.4m electric bikes. That said, the rate of passenger car ownership is growing faster than the population.
Powered by a steady influx of investment capital, the private sector has led the way in Belgium, driven by:
- rapid technological innovation (electric powertrains and automated driving systems)
- new business models, including transport network companies
- increased use of drones, electric scooters and bikes
The public sector has become markedly more active, as many cities and others have sought to proactively shape the future of mobility in the Netherlands.
Key stakeholders in the Netherlands
- Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management
- Smart Mobility & Internationalization at RAI Automotive Industry NL(Dutch cluster organization of the automotive industry)
- Large private delivery companies such as Just Eat Takeaway.com
Understand the mobility opportunities in the Netherlands
The Netherlands aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and has ambitious strategies in place to achieve this, such as planning for all public transport buses to be zero-emission by 2025. It’s also eager to lead internationally on:
- The Internet of Things
- Smart cities
The Dutch government, together with provinces, metropolitan areas, public transport companies and the rail infrastructure management company ProRail, has drawn up the Vision on the Future of Public Transport for 2040.
- Two large consortia of Dutch companies and knowledge institutes will receive €47m in government funding to develop ground-breaking electrification and hydrogen applications in automotive, maritime and air transport.
Other key trends in the market include:
- Mobility as a service (MaaS)- emerging service where the traveller can plan, book and pay for the entire trip through a single app.
- Electric bikes & Bikes as a Service – Irish company Moby are powering global delivery businesses with the best ebikes and service packages including fleet management and maintenance. Another example is Kuma Bikes, an Irish electric bike company based in Dublin.
- Reduction of congestion and emissions, through developing self-driving vehicles and improving car traffic information for drivers
- Improving data quality and transmission to enable new trends and reduce harmful emissions
Selling into the Netherlands
As the Netherlands is a mature market in terms of digitalisation, that presents a challenge of its own, as Irish firms need to have an exceptional niche product or service to catch the interest of potential customers in the market.
The keen local interest in innovation and the high levels of English fluency compensate to a degree for those looking at the market.
As the Netherlands did not submit a recovery plan to the EU, there is no recovery and resilience funding for projects there, unlike all other EU member states.
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Spain excels in high-speed rail and efficient public transport, but a huge push is on to move to zero-emission transport and travel.
The mobility landscape in Spain
Given the importance of tourism to its economy, Spain has invested heavily in transport infrastructure and connectivity, including:
- the second most extensive high-speed rail system after China
- extensive modern public transport in urban areas, meaning fast journey times
- advanced high speed networks
While there is burgeoning innovation in smart mobility, digitalisation lags behind the main European economies. Shared mobility is increasingly popular, with thousands of shared cars, motorbikes, bikes and scooters available in Madrid and Barcelona.
Spain also lags in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, but plans to have 5m vehicles and 360,000 charging points by 2030 (up from 65,000 vehicles and 13,400 points in 2021), with significant EV battery production slated in the market. It is also testing autonomous vehicles, with a daily on-campus bus service already running at Madrid Autonoma University.
Key stakeholders in Spain
- Public sector (Renfe, Correos, Ports 4.0 fund)
- Private companies (Alsa, Airbus, Ferrovial,Cabify, Acciona)
- Smart Mobility association
Understanding the mobility opportunity in Spain
Spain has ambitious emission reduction goals set for 2030. To achieve them, it seeks to reduce private vehicle use by 35% in cities by 2030 and to ensure 55% of vehicles sold will be zero emissions by then, with no diesel or petrol vehicles sold by 2035. Hydrogen-powered vehicles and rail is also a priority.
Spain is receiving €6.5 billion from NextGeneration EU in invest in sustainable, safe and connected mobility in cities and towns, including:
- Traffic and emission reductions, through low-emission zones, high occupancy lanes, zero-emission buses, digital public transport and traffic management tools
- Greener vehicles and charging points
- Electric mobility
- Improving suburban rail and digitalising rail security
- Digitalisation of logistics networks.
Other opportunities for Irish firms include:
- Mobility related to ecommerce logistics and carbon emissions
- Supporting Ferrovial’s expertise in zero carbon aviation.
Selling into Spain
Spain is a competitive market for mobility and typically has a relatively long sales cycle regardless of the sector, so a premium offer and patience are required.
Make sure you have local support in the market, as you need to speak the language in this cost-driven market, and sales are heavily based on reputation and relationships.
Spain is one of the most decentralised countries in the world, with 17 autonomous communities and five official languages, so a one-size-fits-all approach may not work.
In fact, the Spanish state is managing 55% of the national recovery and resilience funding, with regional authorities administering the rest. Market entrants need to understand local, regional and national regulations and bureaucracy.
Consider attending upcoming events such as Global Mobility Call 22 (Madrid, June 14-16 and Smart City Expo (Barcelona, November 15-17).
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