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Su$tainable Mobility: Mayor Pete lays down the law
This bi-weekly newsletter aims to separate the signal from the noise for making money in sustainable transportation: Electrification, mode shift, active and public transit, and mobility aggregation, across both people and goods movement.
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QUICK HITS: Notable news from the last 2 weeks
🇨🇴 Bogota’s smartphone-based congestion pricing pilot is wrapping up. Bogota and Medellín remain two of the most innovative cities for transportation in the world.
🏜 Phoenix unanimously approves EV roadmap. While not the most ambitious city plan, it does underscore how urban areas in swing states and red states are starting to take vehicle decarbonization more seriously.
🚲 Chicago commits to making every “protected” bike lane genuinely protected. Kudos to Chicago for acknowledging that plastic bollards don’t cut it for biker safety, concrete barriers do.
👫 San Francisco Bay Area moves one step closer to integrated transit operations. Not a century too soon; the lack of integrated planning and operations executions between SF Muni, Caltrans, BART, AC Transit, etc., is a genuine impediment to getting cars off the road.
🚶🏾♂️London is experimenting with its traffic lights to prioritize pedestrians. Fantastic to see that there are tangible improvements for pedestrians with no impact on vehicle traffic.
🤯 Legislators in North Carolina are proposing to rip out EV chargers to promote fossil fuels. This may win an award for the most inane piece of transportation legislation introduced.
🇯🇵 Japan pushed G7 communiqué to exclude zero-emissions vehicle targets. Very much head-in-the-sand behavior. A more honorable counterproposal would have been a binding deadline to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions by a given amount.
🇨🇭The Swiss plan to tax EVs to finance roads. A better approach to finance roads is a vehicle miles traveled tax.
🇺🇸 The Biden administration is looking to add EV charging to the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard program. It’s unclear whether the current Supreme Court would object.
🍎 Apple CarPlay is integrating preauthorized fuel purchases. Keep an eye out for when this functionality comes to EV charging.
💽 Google is diving deeper into fleet routing services via Maps. Google has arguably superior data, but lacks the customer focus of its competitors.
🚲 Amazon launches first fleet of e-cargo bikes in London. The future of last-mile delivery in cities is via e-cargo bikes. Congrats to friend of the newsletter Alex Vickers at Amazon for pulling this off.
🔙 Ford stops letting EV customers buy their car at lease end. Automakers continue to aim for a closed-loop for the battery economy.
🧪 Tata Tech joins Foxconn’s Mobility in Harmony consortium. Mobility in Harmony may end up the virtual automaker of the future. No need for Amazon to buy from Rivian if they can contract electric vans from a virtual automaker.
STARTUP WATCH: Sustainable mobility startups (generally pre-seed or seed) to keep an eye on
🛩 Alba (California, USA): Blended Wing Body hydrogen airplane manufacturer (Looking for an aerodynamics/aircraft design co-founder. Contact.)
🚌 BasiGo (Kenya): Electric bus-as-a-service for public transit operators
🤳🏽Centagon X (California, USA): Strava meets Waze for drivers
🔋 Edge Energy (Ohio, USA): Battery-boosted DC fast chargers
🧑🏽🔧 FlashFix (Germany): Mobile e-bike repair service
👨🏾💻 FleetBase (Singapore): Cloud-based logistics operations platform, developer API, and marketplace
👩💻 Fleetroot (United Arab Emirates): SaaS platform for last-mile logistics and comprehensive fleet management
🚛 Gemini Motor (California, USA): Manufacturer of hydrogen-powered, autonomous heavy-duty trucks
🚤 Halevai (New York, USA): Manufacturer of electric pontoon boats
🤖 MightyFly (California, USA): Autonomous drones for logistics
🏪 ParkMyFleet (New York, USA): Staffed & gated mobility hubs for EV fleets
🚚 Revolv (California, USA): Full-service EV adoption for commercial fleets
👨🏾💻 Switch (Italy): Software platform for shared fleets
FUNDING: Capital raises from startups previously featured in Startup Watch
FOUNDER Q&A: Karl Rapson, go4zem
Q: What does your company do?
A: go4zem wants to democratize the use of zero-emission mobility solutions, promote sharing economy in the field of mobility and promote more livable and sustainable cities. We will connect all owners - professionals and individuals - of clean vehicles (electric bikes, electric scooters, electric cars, etc.) with users who will be able to rent them anywhere, anytime, and for any duration.
This will take the form of an app that will be available in September 2022, launching initially in the Paris region. In other words, we are designing the future Airbnb of clean mobility!
Q: What is the problem go4zem is solving?
Individual users, who are trying to limit their ecological footprint, are struggling to find eco-friendly mobility alternatives around them
Individual owners have zero-emission vehicles that are often unused, and which could be monetized. Moreover, more and more people are looking for extra income
Professional owners have fleets of underutilized zero-emission mobility solutions, more they are often not visible enough on the web and other digital channels. Finally, their rental and payment processes are time-consuming and not digitized
In short, many people avoid self-service solutions which often have a negative ecological impact or which very often turn out to be not very ecological (e.g., short lifespan, etc.) and quickly become expensive. We will make it possible to operate already existing and underused vehicles.
Q: Why do you think people will be willing to go through the friction of the go4zem platform for an e-kickscooter (trottinette électrique) when there are many cities in France with abundant e-kickscooter in free-floating circulation?
A: First, these self-service solutions are only available in major cities today, so a person living in mid-size cities or rural areas, or a tourist staying in these areas, does not have access to these solutions today. In addition, these services are more suitable for very short-term rentals (from a few minutes to a few hours) and have a very limited lifespan today, which represents a major issue in terms of ecological sustainability. Finally, the user can take the vehicle home and recharge it whenever he wishes
Q: What funding stage is your company at and where are you headed next?
A: Currently we are at the friends & family and crowdfunding stage. We want to continue with a first seed fundraising in Q1-Q2 2023.
Q: What business challenge are you most looking forward to addressing in the next year?
Launch of the platform in September/go-to-market strategy
Develop further strategic partnerships with rental agencies, public institutions, and large corporations to accelerate our development
Q: Favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Pastry - my favorite being ‘Paris-Brest’.
Q: What's been the hardest thing you've had to do as a cofounder?
A: We had to stop working with some of our service providers. This is not a pleasant experience and it impacted our launch timing.
Q: What advice would you give other founders in the sector?
A: Put the customer at the center of everything you do and always be open to (constructive) feedback!
DEEP DIVE: The US DOT requirement for states to track and reduce transportation emissions
Faced with increasing Congressional gridlock and an inability to pass the Build Back Better bill, the Biden administration is leaning into executive orders to achieve climate goals. Last week, the US DOT announced a proposed requirement for US states to measure the amount of CO2 emitted via driving interstate highways and other major roads and develop plans to reduce these emissions.
Across all emissions sources, the US stood at 14.7 metric tons of CO2 per capita in 2019, with 5.9 of that being transportation. But how divergent are individual states in annual per capita transportation-related emissions?
Small, densely populated states (e.g., Rhode Island) and states with large urban areas (e.g., New York) are much closer to the low end of the spectrum. It’s no coincidence that Washington, D.C. is the best per capita.
Hence the poor performance of Alaska, Wyoming, and North Dakota. They’re three of the four least densely populated states, along with Montana.
Alas, this underscores how partisan this topic can become. Rural states are much more likely to lean Republican and object to a Biden administration executive order. In their defense, with existing business models and technologies, there are precious few levers these states can pull to decrease per capita emissions. Even the obvious candidate of passenger car electrification is much harder in rural areas, given vehicle range and how much density drives the profitability of public charging infrastructure.
If there’s room for optimism, it’s that this is exactly the big, thorny challenge well served by focused, visionary entrepreneurs. Millions of rural Americans need the next generation of cleantech entrepreneurs to step up to the plate with creative solutions for transportation decarbonization in rural areas.
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