Su$tainable Mobility, Volume 1
Thanks to every single one of you who gave me feedback about what should go into this inaugural issue. This is still very much a work in progress so feedback is always welcome.
The objective of this newsletter is to help separate the signal from the noise as it relates to where money is to be made in all things sustainable transportation: Electrification, mode shift, active and public transit, and mobility aggregation, across both people and goods movement.
Disclaimer: This newsletter represents my own thoughts and not those of any employer. I will always disclose when I have a financial relationship to a company cited.
With that said, on to the news from this week…
Fast takes on the the most important news from last week
Tesla is opening up its SuperCharger network in the US to other brands later this year. There’s $7.5 billion in EV charger spend up for grabs in Biden’s current infrastructure plan, with open standards being the name of the game. Expect Tesla to push for federal funds, adhering to the letter of open standards, but working behind the scenes to make sure that a Tesla owner has a noticeably superior experience at a SuperCharger than, say, a Kia Niro owner.
LA is about to bring its bus shelters into the 21st century. The JC Decaux model of relying on advertising to support bus shelters is ready for a major upgrade. Tranzito’s design smartly incorporates lockers for parcel drop-offs, which could tap into big money from e-commerce players.
Because of the pandemic, we commuted significantly less in 2020 than in a typical year, but GHG emissions only dropped by about 10%. Among other things, the pandemic was a massive social experiment in what happens if consumers mostly stayed home. The more modest drop in GHG emissions shows how much of a challenge there is in decarbonizing at the upstream level, including in industry.
Foxconn is teaming up with Nidec on EV motors. Foxconn wants to be the Foxconn of EV manufacturing, a title that should belong to Magna and Valmet. But the incumbents will have to work a lot harder, especially with Foxconn’s Asia links.
Sustainable mobility startups (generally pre-seed/pre-Crunchbase/pre-Pitchbook) to to keep an eye on
Eve Movement (Oregon, US) EV car share solution for communities, universities, businesses, etc. with no software or insurance expense up front.
MyEVReview (Czech Republic) Aggregator of consumer reviews of EVs. Think Yelp but for EV owners.
EEVEE Mobility (Belgium) A digital tool to give EV owners and fleet managers detailed visibility into their charging costs.
DEEP DIVE: Why ridehail companies will quickly tip towards zero emissions
Sales of passenger car are starting to tip towards zero emissions, with some manufacturers contemplating a phase out of internal combustion engines around the 2030-2035 time period, at least in certain regions. But alas, any new car sold generally stays on the road on an average of 12 years in the US, which means that the stock of passenger car vehicles on the road in the US may still include lots of gas guzzlers well into the 2030s and beyond.
For Uber, Lyft and their peers in other markets, that transition is likely to happen much faster. Both have already made commitments on the topic: Uber has already committed to become a zero emissions platform globally by 2040 and in the US by 2030. Lyft, with operations only in North America, has set the target for 2030.
But for reasons relating to both supply and demand, Uber and Lyft may well end up beating those targets:
Used EVs are incredibly cheap. Every day, more and more EVs that are perfectly suited for ridehailing are coming off lease (e.g., Chevrolet Bolt).
EVs offer lower running costs, including fueling and maintenance, than gasoline-powered cars, which has a tremendous profitability impact in high-mileage fleet applications like ridehailing.
Progressive states are starting to mandate it. California, frequently the leader in the US, is mandating that, 90% of ride-hail vehicle miles traveled be zero emissions by 2030.
Cities are beginning to mandate it or encourage it. San Francisco, for example has a different fee per zero-emission ridehail trip than one with tailpipe emissions.
The final piece of the puzzle is mostly around getting drivers access to charging, especially given that so many Uber and Lyft drivers live in apartments or condos where home charging can be more challenging. Luckily, there are numerous startups popping up to tackle the problem, each with a slightly different approach on how to tailor the customer acquisition, vehicle economics and charging economics. Expect one or two of them to hit on the right formula, which will tip the market even faster.