ACCESS: Shared Mobility

Shared mobility could help reduce travel costs and overall environmental impact of passenger vehicles. A reported 23% of U.S. consumers use ridesharing at least once per week.38

To date, most ridesharing vehicles are repurposed personal vehicles, although the U.S Department of Transportation has also developed federal guidelines to help cities and municipalities add low-speed automated shuttles to their transportation fleets to help solve first- and last-mile travel issues for those who rely heavily on public transportation.

The growth of ridesharing and car-sharing services will continue to significantly influence individual mobility behavior while introducing changes to automotive systems—particularly vehicle interiors. Riders will continue to expect advancements such as durable, hygienic materials as well as accessible interiors, an enhanced in-transit experience, and innovative display materials. Shared mobility is also expected to reduce average vehicle lifespans due to increased usage rates, which could encourage the use of longer-lasting automotive materials that are more durable, recyclable, repairable, and replaceable. Advanced plastics and polymer composites could play a major role in the following areas:

Anti-Odor, Self-Cleaning, and Antimicrobial Materials

Design Impacts

3d illustration of viruses and bacteria above shiny surface

Like mass transit seating, shared vehicle interiors will require durable, hygienic, and odor-free surfaces to accommodate multiple passenger trips.

Opportunities for Advanced Plastics and Polymer Composites

Contact-activated polymeric interiors can resist odors and microbial growth.39

Collaborative Activities

Hygienic Materials

Near (2020–2022)Mid (2023–2025)Long (2026–2030)
Demonstrate novel automotive interior prototypes that are specifically designed for easy cleaning and disinfecting of plastics and polymer compositesMid
Identify compatible materials systems (i.e., additives) to enable plastics and polymer composites with desired functional properties for shared vehicle interiors (i.e., anti-odor/-static/-microbial, self-cleaning)Mid

Shared, Fractional Ownership and Ridesharing

Design Impacts

Autonomous ride sharing Volvo 360 concept

Shared and autonomous vehicles will require resilient and highly durable materials designed to withstand increased usage rates and improve vehicle lifecycle performance.

Shared vehicles can enable equitable transportation access for the elderly and individuals with sensory, physical, or intellectual disabilities in both rural and urban regions. Universal design principles for accessibility could significantly impact interior vehicle configurations.

Opportunities for Advanced Plastics and Polymer Composites

Advanced plastics and polymer composites can provide wear- and scratch-resistance to meet the increased usage rates of shared automotive interiors.

Advanced plastics and polymer composites offer superior design flexibility and lightweighting benefits for both reconfigurable and custom-made automotive interiors.

Collaborative Activities

High-Durability Interiors

Near (2020–2022)Mid (2023–2025)Long (2026–2030)
*Conduct a demonstration project for advanced interior automotive plastics and polymer composites with high usage ratesNear, Mid
Define durability requirements of materials for automotive interiors (e.g., shared vehicles with high usage rates) including characteristics of cleanability and resistance to wear, UV, and scratches Near
Design soft-touch surfaces that cover structural composites for improved aesthetic appearance and durabilityMid

Accessible Vehicle Design

Near (2020–2022)Mid (2023–2025)Long (2026–2030)
Coordinate across automotive stakeholder groups to explore likely future scenarios for consensus-based principles for accessible vehicle designNear
Examine accessible vehicle design principles or frameworks to define vehicle safety requirements for interior automotive plastics and polymer composites; coordinate with regulating agenciesNear, Mid
Demonstrate retractable lightweight systems (e.g., retractable composite ramps) to enable accessibility for disabled usersMid