Search

New mobility market in AustriaFootnote 1

With mounting pressure to reduce emissions and turn to carbon-neutral solutions, new mobility services have emerged mostly in metropolitan areas, founding on the principles of sustainability, digitalization and sharing. The new mobility market creates countless alternatives to the private fossil fueled car with an ever-increasing amount of innovations with Austria being a showcase of European novelty.

Also, new mobility services have received important political support since the Green party entered the government coalition in 2019. A strong case is being made for green growth following the pandemic.

This market snapshot is for Canadian companies seeking to do business in the Austrian new mobility who are market active in:

If you need more information or advice about this market and potential opportunities, please contact :

Susanne Knobloch
Email: Susanne.Knobloch@international.gc.ca
Tel. +43 1 531 38 3354

Table of Contents

Overview

2019 general elections have shown a shift in the public and political discourse. As public pressure rose for more sustainability, mobility became a key subject, while all political parties included "green" topics in their agenda, pointing out the importance of greener public transportation and alternative mobility solutions. Nevertheless, despite innovation hubs developing in Vienna and other major cities, the challenge of connecting rural areas and reducing the dependency on the private fossil fuel car remains.

Change in government

Given the new political context (Green party in government coalition since the end of 2019) and the general increase of awareness related to alternative mobility solutions, the Austrian electric vehicles market has experienced substantial growth. Also, Austria has a long tradition of providing excellent public transportation services. The entry of the Green party into the government with their landmark "1-2-3 ticket" project has only risen the stakes of the public administration to further invest in mobility services and accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral future. Examples shown further in this report show for instance a substantial increase in the funding of e-vehicles and innovation within the hydrogen mobility sector.

Public awareness

In Austria, sustainability is on everyone’s mind. As shown by the change in the political discourse, which came as a response to public demand, a carbon-neutral future seems to be the new societal goal, especially fueled by the hopes of the young generation (Fridays for Future movement).  Additionally, a growing number of voices is making a strong case for green growth following the pandemic and requesting that only companies which are willing to commit to a green transition should be bailed out.

To sum up, almost all political parties and almost all public activity programs are aiming towards a transportation system with less car traffic, better public transportation, more bicycling and expanded new mobility services.

Austria's "leading cities" in terms of new mobility

In terms of new mobility services, big cities in Austria are the trendsetters, with Vienna standing out. Generally, larger cities are more advanced than the rest because they host a comparably high number of services/vehicles or they play an important role in pushing the development of new mobility services:

In general, Vienna is the place to be for new mobility services, as the capital city is home to more than 25% of Austria’s population. Other "leading" cities/regions are:

Vienna is by far the leading new mobility hub. The start-up scene in Vienna is very active and is significantly backed by the local administration’s effort to increase Vienna’s standard of living through a better-connected mobility system (while also maintaining the prestige of being declared the world’s most liveable city).

Market organization and players

Public transport

Railroads

The Austrian Railroads Company ÖBB holds an almost-monopoly over Austrian railroads resulting in very few private players. ÖBB’s quality of service is very high and the rail company is heavily subsidized (political will to back more sustainable means of transportation).

The introduction of the 1-2-3 ticket program was a pivotal project of the conservative-green government coalition. The 1-2-3 ticket follows the principle of being able to travel in one province for one euro a day, two provinces for two euros and three euros for nationwide travel (therefore a yearly ticket would cost 1095 Euros).  The government announced that the ticket is to be introduced by 2021 and has an allocated budget of over 240 million euros, despite critics from provinces who see the difficulties in implementing the project, especially on a financial level and with limited resources.

The Austrian Railroads Company also introduces several innovations regarding a new hydrogen train, which tested its first ever passenger service on September 12th, 2020. More details on this hydrogen train can be found in the hydrogen mobility section.

Most larger cities (all above 50,000) have a tram system which also serves the surrounding areaFootnote 2.

Long distance bus

For national routes, Postbus, a subsidiary of the Austrian Rail Company, has a de facto market monopoly and is the largest bus company in Austria. Every year, Postbus takes 213 million passengers to their respective destination and operates in areas where no other public transport connections are available, making it a vital connectivity partner for rural areas. 

When it comes to international routes, Flixbus and Regiojet are important players connecting Austria with its neighboring countries (Flixbus – Western and Southern Europe/ Regiojet – CEE). However, we should note that Austrians have a clear preference towards trains.

City transport

Transit in cities or metropolitan areas is usually provided by city owned companies with directly awarded contracts, over 50k.

Rural areas

Generally, those are poorly served as previously mentioned, the most important player being Postbus. Their buses serve around 1,800 municipalities daily, providing public transport connections to even the remotest corners in Austria’s rural areas. Postbus is an essential pillar when it comes to public services in rural areas and has been a trustworthy partner to municipalities for many years. Postbus’ importance has to be contextualized with the lack of alternatives from the private sector, as routes don’t provide sufficient revenue opportunities, further cementing the dependence on private cars.

 New mobility

The new mobility market has granted access to various players due to the digitalization of services. Both national and international start-ups are at the forefront of this mobility revolution and cooperate closely with public authorities, which play an important role not only in providing mobility services but also in fueling innovation.

Nevertheless, laws and regulations are constantly evolving and must be analyzed properly both on national and local level before entering a specific market.

Changing laws and regulations

As new mobility services bring innovation and novelty, the legal landscape is ever evolving alongside the public debate. Currently, there is increasing political debate about ride-hailing. Uber was banned for five days in July 2019, as it changed its business purpose from a transportation company to a facilitator of transportation services. E-scooters were also effectively banned from sidewalks in May 2019 and are not considered "vehicles" (due to an amendment of the general definition of vehicles). In addition, scooters are required to be equipped with a functional braking device and must not exceed a maximum speed of 25.5 km/h.

Funding for public transport investments and passenger rail operations has and will continue to significantly increase. Furthermore, subsidies for e-vehicles have more than tripled since June 2020. For more information, refer to the section on the E-mobility sector.

New mobility services have yet to gain popularity due to the unpredictability of nation and state-wide regulations that are imposed on new services. New mobility service are not yet  fully reliable mobility alternatives because they haven’t been around long enough to be normalized into every day life. For example, dock less bike-sharing initiatives lasted less than two years in Vienna.

Market trends

When talking about the development of the "new mobility" concept, multiple current new trends have to be considered:

Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on new mobility services

Like in many industries and businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic had an overall negative impact on mobility, causing a substantial decrease in usership for mobility and shared transit. This decrease in usership was caused by the social distancing regulations, but Austrians are also now adopting a more flexible approach with the purpose of finding "the new normal",   bringing back the rise of usership.

Even though public transit methods have become available again, a substantial part of the population are trying to avoid shared vehicles in order to minimize the risks involved. This has resulted in a certain shift towards more walking and bicycling in order to avoid crowds and public transit, but at the same time, there are clear signs for the renaissance of the private car.

However, even though the public transit industry is currently experiencing a downfall, a promising future lies ahead as the industry is receiving multiple investments from both the state and the federal governments.

Overall, even though people felt obliged in a way to use their private cars, it can be observed that bigger cities have been experiencing a movement towards a greener and more eco-friendly approach for day-to-day transit. Multiple policies such as the „build back better" policy and the „popup-bike-lanes" initiative have been established, which clearly represent the positive transition.

Market segments and opportunities for Canadian Players

Bike-sharing

A bike rental system is available in Austria in around 150 cities and municipalities with a total of more than 550 rental stations and around 3,000 bicycles. In addition to rental systems for conventional bicycles, there are now also rental systems for electric bicycles and the option of renting transport bicycles, for example in Graz, Vienna and Wiener Neustadt.

Systems are either free-floating (dock less), station-based or hybrid (mixture of both forms). Most systems are contracted by the city and marketed as "city" or "transit-bikes", usually co-financed by an advertising-sponsor (such as Citybike Wien by Gewista).

The concept of Citybike WienFootnote 3 has been a part of the cityscape for over 15 years. In Vienna, the 1,500 bikes are available at over 120 stations at any time of day and throughout the year, accounting for half of Austria’s shared bikes. Citybike’s main competitive advantage is the pricing as it is free of charge for the first hour and one euro the second hour.

On the national level, German operator Nextbike plays an important role as it has been contracted in almost all provinces and their respective capitals (Burgenland, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Carinthia).

Both Nextbike and Citybike Wien offer very competitive prices as they are heavily subsidized and earn an important revenue stream from advertising. Consequently, the entry of new players on the market poses a number of challenges and requires a very competitive solution as well as a long-term perspective. Some new players, such as Donkey Republic, only lasted in Vienna less than 18 months. Wiener Linien has been contracted by the City of Vienna to run a tender for the replacement of the current Citybike system in the first half of 2021.

Another consideration is new pressure on the bike-sharing market due to the emergence of e-scooter-sharing.

Scooter-sharing

E-scooters have appeared on the Austrian market as early as 2018. Due to an uncontrolled increase of this new means of transportation, an amendment to the Austrian Traffic Ordinance (which is a federal law) came into force. E-scooters were effectively banned from sidewalks in May 2019 and are not considered "vehicles". However, their special status allows them to be used on sidewalks, if local administrations allow them under special conditions, as long as they do not pose a threat for by passers. Cities may intervene within the federal legal framework and set additional local rules.

Also, they must be equipped with a functional braking device and must not exceed a top speed of 25.5 km/h.

Car-sharing/pooling

As things stand, more than 100,000 Austrian households are using a car-sharing serviceFootnote 4. The industry’s potential is huge, as not more than 10% of all private cars are simultaneously used and there is an increasing number of households which possess two or three vehicles, that are generally used less than twice a month.

Moreover, the digitalization process is accelerating the transition towards a more sharing-based economy. There is a clear trend towards the renunciation of private car-owners especially among the younger generation. Around 25% of Austrian households don’t own a private vehicle, generally relying on the use of public transit.

In Vienna, 40% of those using stationary car-sharing schemes have stated to have increased their usage of public transit and reduced the usage of a private car, while 35% also preferred walking as a mean of transportation.

Taxi and ride-hailing

The taxi industry accounts for roughly 710 million euros and is mainly fueled by the tourism industry. Taxis are generally run by independent private companies, which are forming local groups under the same company. With a few exceptions there is a fixed quota for concessions, the latter are usually sold from owner to owner.

It is extremely difficult to penetrate this market due to the strong political support and lobbying work of taxi association which has made it difficult for ride-hailing companies to enter the market. Uber was banned for five days in July 2019, having to change its business purpose from a transportation company to a facilitator of transportation services.

In Austria, online intermediation services work exclusively with rental car companies and therefore do not employ any drivers themselves. The intention of Austrian lawmakers was to combine the taxi and private rental car sector to form one uniform passenger transport industry. 

In September 2019, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority published a detailed reportFootnote 5 encouraging Austrian lawmakers to further liberalize the taxi industry by allowing ride-hailing and creating a supportive legal framework. 

Mobility platforms and transit apps

Transit agencies around Austria have hopped on the "aggregration" train and are increasingly working with the private sector to further integrate alternative mobility services. In Vienna, the WienMobil app became such an aggregator with the purpose of replacing the use of the private car as much as possible. WienMobil further evolved in 2019 by integrating the ticket acquisition tool within the app.

"tim" is another notable app that has gained significant popularity specifically in Graz. This this app does not fully integrate the usage of alternative mobility services but rather displays other possibilities and forwards the user towards the respective app.

The E-mobility sector in AustriaFootnote 6

E-cars

For the past 3 years, the electro mobility sector in Austria has registered a steady and robust yearly growth of over 40%, leading to a vehicle stock of 48,214 cars, with over 10,000 cars bought since the beginning of 2020 alone. The Tesla Model 3 is the most popular Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) model by far with 191 new registrations in August 2020 only. The Tesla brand leads with around 23% of the market share.

Electric charging infrastructure

Latest figures show there were 3,055 normal publicly available charging points and 505 fast charging points by the end of the second quarter of 2020 according to Directive 2014/94/EU.

Moreover, several private actors are increasingly active by developing a network for charging points. The largest private actor, SmatricsFootnote 7 (a joint venture of OMV, Verbund and Siemens) has a capacity of 450 charging stations nation-wide and is the largest provider of knowledge, technology and services related to charging stations in Austria.

Subsidies

A generous legal framework both on federal and provincial levels was put in place to encourage individuals and companies to switch to electric alternatives.

A 5,000 Euro subsidy was given since July 1st, 2020 for all private individuals seeking to buy a fully electric car and 2,500 Euro for a hybrid model. This is a significant increase from the previous subsidy of 1,500 Euros.

Regarding the charging infrastructure, individuals are incentivized to set up their own charging station at home with a subsidy of 600 Euros, which may increase to 1,500 Euros for larger households, and as high as 15,000 Euros for publicly available fast charging stations.

For more details, please contact Susanne Knobloch (Susanne.Knobloch@international.gc.ca) for a more detailed report on the e-cars sector in Austria from March 2020. 

E-Car-sharing schemes

In the first half of 2020, 4,805 electric vehicles were registered in AustriaFootnote 8 among which 22,4% are privately-owned and 77,6% are company owned. This shows a clear preference towards sharing mechanism, as companies continue to develop internal sharing solutions.

Considering the current use of e-vehicles and the increasing use of the apps such as "Rail & Drive" and "tim", many smaller car sharing initiatives in municipalities and regions are beginning to rely on e-cars. In lower Austria alone, there is e-car sharing in more than 70 communities.

Vienna remains the largest hub for e-car-sharing schemes. The two largest car-sharing companies, car2go and DriveNow have merged into a single company, ShareNow, with an impressive fleet of over 80 e-vehicles. In addition, the city attracts new investments such as the Danish-based start-up, Green Mobility, which will be launching a fleet of 400 e-vehicles in partnership with the Austrian Automobile and Touring Club by 2021.

Hydrogen mobility

Austria aspires to become one of the leading countries worldwide regarding hydrogen, including in mobility. Backed by a strong political will to make Austria the industry’s global leader, many innovations were launched in recent years.

In 2022, the first hydrogen-powered narrow-gauge railway in the world is expected to launch in Zillertal, Tyrol. Despite significant public, media and political appraisal, the project is also under scrutiny for financial concerns that the costs poses a threat for the sustainability of the project.

There is also high interest in the future use of hydrogen busses in Austria. Wiener Linien, Vienna’s Transit Agency, tested a hydrogen Solaris bus in June 2020.  By 2023, Vienna aims to have a total of 10 H2 busses that would be used on the bus line 39A (a bus line with a challenging topography restricting the use of electric busses, going from the hilly outskirts to a key urban mobility hub). In addition, Wiener Linien aims to have 82 zero-emissions busses, out of which 62 are electric, on Vienna’s roads by 2027, with tenders planned in 2021 and 2024.

Postbus, Austria’s largest bus company and a subsidiary of the Railroads Company, has also declared its intention of replacing its fleet of 2,000 busses with hydrogen-powered busses. In  August 2019, Klagenfurt and Graz tested a hydrogen-powered bus for the public. Concrete plans of procurement are expected in the coming years.

Several hydrogen-fueling stations have been introduced since 2012. In Austria, OMV opened the first public hydrogen filling station in Vienna in 2012. Further stations started operation in Innsbruck, Asten, Graz and Wiener Neudorf. The Austrian government's goal is to ensure that hydrogen gas stations will be available nationwide by 2025, according to the Austrian Chancellor.

The Canadian Embassy has been working on promoting fuel cells in heavy mobility since 2015 with good results for Canadian clients. The Embassy will continue to focus on promoting fuel cells/hydrogen. Other areas of focus include electro-mobility as well as bike sharing. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Austria is hugely committed to client success and looks forward to supporting Canadian clients in all areas of new mobility/mobility transformation going forward.

Electromobility in Austria – August 2020

Date Modified: