Startups

Amber Mobility: Highway To Freedom, Part 1: Cars On Demand

Kate Brunton
July 18, 2018

Have you ever looked at a particular habit or angle of society and thought, “this is so screwed up – how is it possible for creatures with abstract reasoning capabilities to be doing something so senseless?” There are a lot of ways in which we humans have managed to slowly destroy our planet over the last few thousand years, but for me, the most perplexing catastrophe that we’ve ever inflicted on ourselves is the ICE (internal combustion engine) car.

Have you ever looked at a particular habit or angle of society and thought, “this is so screwed up – how is it possible for creatures with abstract reasoning capabilities to be doing something so senseless?” There are a lot of ways in which we humans have managed to slowly destroy our planet over the last few thousand years, but for me, the most perplexing catastrophe that we’ve ever inflicted on ourselves is the ICE (internal combustion engine) car.

I don’t think that in the early 1900s, Henry Ford could have possibly imagined the extent to which cars and other ICE vehicles would take over our world and our lives. I’m particularly struck by their hold over us every time I get a blast of some partially-burned scooter fuel in the face when they pass me on the bike path, or when I’m stuck in traffic on the highway and all I can smell is car exhaust.

 

“There is something vain about humans, pondering our specialness even as we destroy the environment” – Thomas Suddendorf

 

Highway to HellConfession: I own a car. I use it approximately once every two weeks, and I pay about 150 euro a month just to have it sitting across the street, staring at me contemptuously. Occasionally I clean the bird poop off. How much do you pay to own a car? I bet it’s more. I have a Fiat Panda, one of the most fuel-efficient and durable cars on the market, so my “costs of ownership” are relatively low. But this 150 euro doesn’t even include the cost of depreciation, which turns out to be between 300-500 euro per year for a Fiat Panda (it’s much higher for a more expensive car).In general, owning a car seems like more hassle than it’s worth. Insurance, repairs, fuel, maintenance, cleaning, APK (MOT) test, road tax, depreciation, knowing that you’re polluting the world – the list goes on and on. But despite all this, we continue to own cars. We’re willing to put up with all the negative consequences of ownership in exchange for something extremely precious: Freedom. With our own car, we can go wherever we want to, whenever we want to, and bring anything or anyone we want along with us.

 

The Ultimate FreedomThe sad thing about humanity “doing good things” is that we generally don’t, unless there’s a clear monetary- or user experience-based interest on our side. As a society, we’ll never switch to clean energy sources until they become cheaper than fossil fuels (fortunately, it is becoming cheaper, albeit slowly). In the same way, we’ll never switch to electric cars unless it’s cheaper and more convenient (and don’t forget about the important “cool” factor).Thanks to Amber Mobility, we can forget about the hassle of car ownership, and we won’t have to say goodbye to our freedom, either.

 

Guaranteed Mobility

 

For just 33 euro a week, Amber Mobility is going to offer you your very own electric car, on demand. Just pick up your phone and click, “Get Amber” on the team’s newly-developed mobile app. With the app, you can easily locate, unlock, and start your car. Arrived at your destination? Just check out and leave the car – no need to return it. There’s also no need to spend time adjusting the seat, mirrors, or heating and cooling settings – the app even remembers your music preferences, so that even though it’s always a different vehicle, it feels like your own car every time you step in.

Companies are now offering many products and services “on demand”, like Netflix with TV movies, and Spotify with music. People want to pay to use, not to own. Why not apply the same concept to mobility?

 

Not All Electric Cars Are Created Equal

 

You would think that the best way for Amber Mobility to provide cars that are both efficient and can be used on-demand would be to connect their guaranteed mobility platform with existing electric cars. But the problem with existing electric cars like this BMW i3 pictured above is that although many of them were introduced as “brand-new models”, all of them are based on previous ICE cars. Essentially, they are regular gasoline-powered cars with an electric motor and a battery in place of a fuel engine. They are heavy, many of them are huge, and the cost and environmental damage caused from building them is still fairly high.

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