Solving the Cooperation Paradox in Urban Mobility

Solving the Cooperation Paradox in Urban Mobility

By Joël Hazan , Martin Reeves  and Pierre-François Marteau from the Boston Consulting Group

If you build it, the saying goes, they will come. But they have to be able to get there. In cities around the world, getting there is a challenge, fraught by growing traffic congestion and deteriorating public transit systems. All of this piles on travel time and impedes access to urban locations. But it’s more than a source of frustration—the mobility problems that cities face threaten their economic viability, the environment, and society overall.

Traditional approaches to solving mobility problems—adding roads and transit lines—are not sustainable, primarily because of concerns related to climate change, public health, and funding. Hence the interest in new technology-powered forms of mobility: ride sharing, free-floating bikes, autonomous electric vehicles, digital mobility platforms, and more.

These technologies could be “congestion busters,” prompting people to give up grueling commutes in single-occupancy private vehicles in favor of modes of transport that will offer swifter, easier, cleaner travel while decreasing the number of drivers and vehicles on the road. But when it comes to these new modes, most cities and transport authorities have effectively relinquished control by either allowing private actors to compete unfettered with traditional modes of transportation or letting mobility languish as they restrict innovation.

Waiting for the technology to sort itself out is not the way to proceed. It is incumbent on cities to be part of the mobility revolution and ensure that technologies are deployed in ways that are best for cities and the people who live and work in them. City governments need to, in a word, mobilize. They need to regain control of urban mobility by orchestrating the entire landscape of mobility providers and users.

 

MOBILITY CAN DRIVE—OR DERAIL—WEALTH

The relationship of transportation and economic growth is well grounded in economic theory and empirical evidence.

As Adam Smith explained in The Wealth of Nations, improvements in transportation systems increase the extent of a market, allowing the division of labor and unlocking economies of scale. The development of the world’s major cities illustrates this relationship. In New York City, for instance, the construction of the underground subway (financed by the city because no private players were willing to take on the risk) united the five boroughs and created what is now the world’s second biggest city, as ranked by GDP. And in the Paris metropolitan area, the construction of the regional metro and the urban highway network in the 1960s and 1970s changed the shape of a territory, increasing the number of inhabitants from 5 million in 1900 to 12.2 million today.

As many economists (among them Jean Poulit and David Levinson) have demonstrated, in urban areas mobility drives wealth by fostering access. We define access as the number of valued destinations that inhabitants can easily reach within their daily travel time budget. Access is the effective size of the city. Given that daily travel time budgets everywhere have reached a steady state, increasing access relies on transportation speed—how quickly individuals can reach their workplaces and commercial destinations such as shops and restaurants—and the density of those populations and destinations. Moving many people at a fast pace in dense areas is vital for cities; they don’t want people or businesses, frustrated by congestion, unreliable public transit, and increased travel times, to leave.

Access increases productivity by allowing a better pairing between job demand and work supply. It is priced into land value—individuals and companies pay premiums for high-access locations. Our research, illustrated in Exhibit 1, shows the strong correlation between the areas where the wealthiest people choose to live and the areas with the greatest access to top jobs. (See “How We Measure Accessibility.”) Access also draws commerce to a city by attracting companies looking to benefit from a large pool of talented workers. Last but not least, access fosters social and economic inclusion by increasing exchanges between the different parts of a metropolitan area.

 

HOW WE MEASURE ACCESSIBILITY Our objective was to measure access to opportunities within a city using a location-based approach. Our two main constraints: the measure should be easy to understand, and it should allow a meaningful comparison between cities around the world, regardless of the mobility modes available in individual cities. We used two metrics: An Accessibility Index. This shows the percentage of jobs in the metropolitan area that can be reached within 30 minutes from a given subzone using the fastest transportation mode at a peak travel hour. A Compactness Index. This measures the percentage of jobs in the metropolitan area that can be reached within 30 minutes on average per inhabitant. It is the average of the accessibility indexes of all subzones weighted by the population of each subzone. To compute the figures, we used population and job location data from offices for national statistics (such as INSEE in France). We simulated travel times by leveraging Google Maps for public-transit time and TomTom data for driving time.

But urban mobility is at an impasse. Cities have not been able to increase access using traditional techniques (building new roads or extending transit lines). Worse, rising congestion (TomTom traffic data shows that from 2008 to 2016, congestion levels increased by 10 to 15 points in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other major US cities) along with the unsustainable levels of carbon and particle emissions and pressure on public-transport finances, threaten to decrease access. This presents clear challenges to the economy and the environment; it also sets the stage for troubling social outcomes in which mobility depends on income and magnifies income inequality.

Some might think that the solution to all these challenges lies in new technologies. Indeed, technology will be part of the eventual solution. But on its own it will not provide simple, quick fixes; in some cities, it is actually exacerbating near-term challenges. Cities have not yet figured out how to steer new technology opportunities toward desirable ends.

 

AN UNTAPPED WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES

Urban mobility has never moved so fast. A combination of disruptive technologies and changes in the aspirations of city dwellers (shown in Exhibit 2) is setting the stage for a revolution that could, if correctly managed, open up a new world of opportunities for cities.

 

From physical infrastructure to digital platforms, the mobility value chain is rapidly becoming more connected, emission-free, autonomous, shared, on-demand, and multimodal. Already, mobile apps have allowed the development of on-demand mobility services such as ride hailing and free-floating vehicles as well as real-time travel assistants; both types of innovation have started to change the way people move in cities. But much more is coming. Autonomous and electric vehicles, combined with the tremendous improvements in data generation, collection, and processing, could provide crucial elements of the solutions that cities are looking for.

If properly leveraged, disruptive technologies could—eventually—help cities pursue sustainable growth. What could the new urban mobility look like? Attractive possibilities exist in several areas:

  • Economic Performance. Commuters could reclaim time and peace of mind by stepping out of their individual cars and relying instead on an integrated combination of new modes of transportation, such as ride sharing and free-floating vehicles. Maximizing the number of passengers per car would reduce congestion. With better access, opportunities for economic transactions—and therefore the wealth of a city—increase.
  • Environmental Sustainability. Environmental benefits could be gained as a decrease in congestion reduces idle time per car, as electric vehicles replace gasoline-powered cars, and as new, lighter vehicles multiply.
  • Social Equity. Cities could reinvigorate access through the thoughtful deployment of new modes of transportation that ensure inclusive access to all, across geographic areas of the city and income bands.
  • Funding. Funding concerns could be alleviated as costly capital investments in new infrastructure are replaced with asset-light initiatives, thereby increasing the efficiency of existing public and private assets.

Mostly, though, cities have been standing aside, and as a result the first wave of the urban mobility revolution has been somewhat chaotic. Public authorities lack the tools to work with the newcomers, and so regulatory progress is lagging, meaning that in many cases operators of new mobility modes either are able to operate unfettered or are unduly restricted. The uptake of ride-hailing services such as Uber, Didi, and Lyft has turned the old taxi industry upside down; such services are also directly competing with public transport through pooling and microtransit services. The development of free-floating services, such as some bike- and scooter-sharing models, has presented a new challenge to city officials, who are used to traditional sharing systems with docks or dedicated spaces and have no policies in place for new approaches. Further, cities now have to deal with a high number of mobility players, instead of the few, well-known providers.

There have been some attempts to regulate new forms of mobility, but they (two acts in France that aimed to regulate ride-hailing services in just two years, for instance) have so far been scattershot rather than strategic.

Cities’ uncertainty about how to proceed might be explained by the fact that new mobility services have not yet begun to deliver on the above-mentioned attractive possibilities, despite massive investments from venture capital funds, tech giants, and car manufacturers. As of today, what matters most—the daily commute—has not changed. Ethnographic research that we conducted in the summer of 2018 in partnership with the French digital agency My Little Paris found that even though 75% of Parisians aged 25 to 45 have tried new mobility services, less than 6% rely on them for their daily commute.

New mobility services have also not been reducing congestion. For instance, a 2017 report from former US Department of Transportation official Bruce Schaller concluded that ride-hailing services had worsened traffic on the busiest streets of New York City, inspiring the recent decision to cap the number of for-hire vehicle licenses (used by drivers of Uber, Lyft, and their equivalents) there. Our research shows that without optimization mechanisms that consider all vehicles, autonomous vehicles are likely to further impede traffic flows in already congested situations.

All of the above findings, though they come somewhat early in the mobility revolution, strongly suggest that cities are not yet on the right track. In general, cities acknowledge that new mobility services can generate tremendous socioeconomic value at a lower cost than investments in traditional infrastructure, but they are struggling mightily to understand how to unlock this potential.

THE IMPERATIVE FOR CITIES: SOLVE THE “COOPERATION PARADOX”

Cities need to be part of the mobility revolution, for the sake of economic development, for their own financial viability, for the cause of fighting against climate change, and for the well-being of their residents. Indeed, without proactive moves on the part of cities, new mobility services could deliver more downsides than upsides, leaving cities ensnared in any of several potential mobility dystopias: paralyzed cities, for example, or cities dominated by private players that have commandeered public space and optimized mobility for their own narrow interests.

It is true that cities’ interests conflict with those of new mobility providers. Cities want to achieve “asset moderation,” a scenario that maximizes utilization of modes of transportation—ensuring, for instance, that each vehicle on the road carries as many passengers as possible. Many private players, on the other hand, want to pursue a model of “asset proliferation”: more vehicles, roads, parking spaces, and hours of hired-vehicle time. These clashing goals create a cooperation paradox that needs to be resolved. But which stakeholders should cities work with to find solutions? It is hard to identify partners, though it’s clear that cities can’t rely on one player for all the right competencies.

The imperative for cities, then, is to become orchestrators of mobility.

By doing so, they will figure out the right balance of regulation and innovation. Traditional highly regulated models have value because they protect players and the public interest, but they can go too far and stifle innovation. On the flip side, an extreme laissez-faire approach allows innovation to flourish but also lets certain players act in ways that might not be wholly beneficial to the city. Cities can orchestrate the new mobility by taking six interlinked and sustained actions. (See Exhibit 3 for an overview.)

 

It’s important to emphasize that cities will be orchestrating these activities, not performing them on their own or in a silo. Other stakeholders, such as the new mobility operators, will play important roles in carrying out these actions, negotiating with one another, and putting their findings to work.

Measure

What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.

To drive the urban mobility revolution, cities should start by putting in place the tools to understand its advantages and disadvantages in detail. They should equip themselves with a measurement framework that can help inform policies. This framework should be a common one, used by all cities, so that they can share their findings and insights.

This effort is not just an updating of existing measures. Indeed, traditionally, cities and transport authorities have assessed ease of movement rather than the interactions between movements and places. Today’s in-depth socioeconomic analyses are limited to large infrastructure projects that cannot be easily adapted to asset-light initiatives. Current measurement systems also lack user centricity, which is needed to build a mobility offering that truly addresses the needs of residents instead of just optimizing each mode in a series of silos.

Cities need a way to monitor the socioeconomic value of asset-light initiatives, looking for signs of almost immediate implications as well as user satisfaction. Indicators should be available at both the urban and district levels to assess potential differences. They should also be de-averaged, by mobility service, to reveal the contribution of each service to the mix. This measurement will instruct pilots as well as policy decisions. (Exhibit 4 shows examples of indicators to monitor.)

 

Capture Value

Cities need to figure out where the value (economic, environmental, and societal) of the new mobility offerings goes and capture the fair share to be reinvested in balanced, integrated solutions; this is the great, wealth-creating lever effect of urban mobility. It is essential to attain the right balance of funding sources for the mobility system overall. Three types of value sources are commonly used to fund mobility: general funding, user fees, and indirect, targeted funding such as development impact fees and land value taxes. The last category is particularly informed by insight into value—it tells authorities which private parties can derive value from the new mobility, particularly if they help to fund it.

This value capture plan will also help cities address urban mobility in the broader context of urban planning—to align planning and mobility decisions, ideally across a metropolitan area. It will force cities to consider actual interaction patterns rather than mere incremental shifts, and it will inform a shared goal of all stakeholders: improving sustainable accessibility for all in the city.

Integrate

Most transportation systems have been developed to address singular modes (car, public transit, or bike, for example) rather than to offer a comprehensive transportation approach that considers users’ varied needs. In some cities, different modes and infrastructures are governed by different entities, limiting the ability to organize and synchronize the mobility ecosystem. Fragmented governance is posing a problem in the face of a convergence of mobility players and the desire to promote multiple modes. The rise of digital platforms that can integrate multiple modes of transport and multiple services (for example, booking, ticketing, and payment) gives cities a new opportunity to tackle this old issue.

Cities should integrate all mobility modes and services in a single platform to offer a seamless experience for users and to equip themselves with a powerful tool to supervise and orient flows. They should also use the platform to unify governance across modes of transportation and types of mobility infrastructure. In short, cities should pursue a smart and user-centric integration of public policy and new technology.

Incentivize

As mobility becomes integrated, authorities can begin to pilot a comprehensive social transportation policy. They could offer user-based incentives that emphasize particular modes, travel hours, and population categories. They could also incentivize mobility providers, which could be paid in exchange for an improvement in access or quality of service, for instance.

Based on the predefined measurement system, the incentives should focus on big-picture outcomes (an increase in travel speed, for instance, or a reduction of pollution) rather than contributing effects or inputs (like the percentage of on-time trains or the share of electric vehicles).

Regulate

It’s clear that new forms of mobility call for new policies and regulations. The recent demise of the Autolib’ electric-car venture in Paris is a signal that cities need to be nimbler in the way they deal with the private sector. Instead of following the tenets of traditional contracts, cities should limit their intervention. They should offer greater flexibility to private players (by, for instance, not requiring them to predefine transport routes).

When it comes to the new mobility, cities will benefit from balancing what is and is not regulated. New ecosystems need efficiency and guardrails, but they also must allow for diversity, initiative, and innovation. This requires positive partnerships and a great amount of trust between cities and private players, not reactive regulations.

Seattle’s newly issued permitting system for free-floating bike sharing is a good example of the new form of regulation that cities should implement. The policy focuses public intervention on select steps of the value chain such as data sharing, parking, safety, and equity while maintaining the diversity and flexibility (regarding detailed pricing structure and user interfaces, for instance) of private operators.

Experiment

The mobility revolution is going to be rapid, and it is going to require major adaptations. Cities don’t have time to wait for definitive solutions. They must learn by experimenting. Some experiments will fail. Given that, cities would benefit from sharing their experiences with other cities. And partnerships between cities and individual mobility players will be beneficial as well; more and more of these partnerships are being put in place, which is a good start for instructional experiments.

For instance, before implementing its permitting system for free-floating bike shares, Seattle used a “sandbox” approach, which included a pilot with LimeBike, ofo, and Spin in 2017 to better understand how to regulate and leverage this new mode of transportation.


Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, and London are regarded as exemplars of urban mobility. It is not a coincidence that these city-states (or close approximations thereof) have autonomous governing bodies that control the entire metropolitan area’s transportation systems. They also have a clear understanding that transport and accessibility are the keys to success. Other cities can look to these standouts as models of best practices.

Indeed, looking to other cities and even joining forces with them will be a key advantage, given the magnitude of changes ahead.

Cities do share a common destination: a comprehensive mobility system that provides easy access and encourages participation in all sorts of commerce throughout the metropolitan area. The journey to that destination will vary as each city works, alongside stakeholders, through the six imperatives to find the best solutions for its future and the future of its residents.

This article is the first in a series on the future of mobility. In subsequent publications, we will explore the six actions in more detail, drawing on the findings of our soon-to-be-launched research platform; we welcome the input and participation of cities and private players.


BCG Henderson Institute

The BCG Henderson Institute is Boston Consulting Group’s strategy think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration from the Institute, please visit Ideas & Inspiration.

Cities need to foster public activism in urban mobility

Cities need to foster public activism in urban mobility

Urban mobility ecosystem is becoming more and more complex, with technology and innovation often going against cities’ public interests. While new mobility solutions (ride-hailing, car-pooling, free-floating vehicles, etc.) are proliferating in all major cities, congestion is still on the rise (+15 to 20pts in travel time between 2008 and 2016 in Paris, Berlin, London and Brussels, according to BCG’s analysis of Tom Tom Traffic Index). The reason for that: a lack of complementarity between mass transit and on-demand mobility solutions. But Mobility-as-a-Service (or MaaS) could soon reshuffle the cards.

“Mobility-as-a-Service” is usually defined as a digital platform supporting end-to-end commuter journey – from planning to payment and ticketing – across all modes of transportation. Commuters’ adoption is expected to be extremely rapid since they increasingly expect convenient and efficient interaction with the mobility ecosystem whereas it is becoming more and more complex given the growing number of options available. If 76% of Ile-de-France residents aged 25-45 have tried free-floating mobility solutions, only 6% use them in their commute, according to the September issue of the BCG Baromètre Mobilité, in partnership with My Little Paris’ Urban Lab.

On the other hand, cities see MaaS as a lever to improve the integration of mass transit and on-demand solutions, and to ultimately lower personal car usage, congestion and pollution.

MaaS has thus become a gold rush for private players: they are in the starting blocks to develop their solution as quickly as possible, to protect their access to end-users and become inescapable… for competitors.

Comprehensive solutions are yet to come: most of existing MaaS platforms remain at the all-inclusive travel pass caricature. They aggregate mobility solutions from different operators, resell unitary tickets to commuters, and charge commissions to operators. The Helsinki-based Whim app is the international reference for MaaS: users can subscribe to a monthly unlimited mobility plan, giving them access to all transportation modes. Even if price point (500€/month) is well above Pass Navigo’s (€75/month), the offer remains attractive for car owners looking for credible alternatives for their daily trips.

However, for MaaS players, economic model remains a struggle. It is sustainable only if users favor cheap transportation modes (e.g., mass transit, bikes), but the all-inclusive pricing strategy often drives them towards ride-hailing and taxi services.

In order to reach sustainable economic models, MaaS players must put in place incentives to encourage commuters to use economical transportation modes. Public authorities are the only ones who can centralize transportation subsidies, tax personal vehicles, enforce such incentives, and therefore enable sustainable economic models for MaaS players. Moreover, public authorities should see MaaS as a tool to foster public activism in mobility, and to help them reach their objectives:

  • Environmental objectives: to drive users towards green modes and to lower personal car usage
  • Economic objectives: to spread traffic across peak and off hours, and to optimize infrastructure utilization
  • Societal objectives: to make urban mobility more inclusive

If technology already exists, operating model remains a question mark. Public authorities must take on this challenge before technology giants transform it in a winner takes all B2C battle. Authorities must reinvent public-private collaboration models, orchestrate rather than delegate, and define precisely what is expected from private players.

Joël Hazan – Partner & Managing Director at BCG; BCG Henderson Institute (BHI) fellow
Hind El Abassi Chraibi – consultant

This article was originally published in Le Monde on October 18 2018

EUSP tour : good vibes at IFA Berlin 🇩🇪🇪🇺

EUSP tour : good vibes at IFA Berlin 🇩🇪🇪🇺

On Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th September, the European Startups Prize for Mobility (EUSP) winners were in Berlin for the second stop of their European tour to attend IFA Next, one of the major European digital events.

During these two days, EUSP startups had the opportunity to present their projects and to become familiar with the German ecosystem, including local decision-makers and investors. First, startups have pitched at IFA Next and we are very proud of Atsukè who won the « Best Pitch Award » of the show that day. A great recognition for their work for a sustainable and digital mobility. #EUSP startups are making their way into European tech!

The day after, our finalists met a high-level panel at our workshop like Dirk 0. Evenson, Director of New Mobility World, Tanja Kufner, Partner at MHP – A Porsche Company or Urs Rahne, Partner at BCG Digital Ventures.

Conclusion of this successful morning : Venture capital investments in Germany increased substantially in the last 5 years. Especially in mobility: infrastructure, e-commerce, sharing, collective transportation, hardware and software. And new funds recently hired mobility experts ! A very good timing for mobility ! After a beautiful stage in Berlin, a new one is coming up already : we will be in Copenhagen on September 18 & 19 for ITS World Congress. Stay tuned!

Why is the automobile industry so focused on building new cars instead of repairing existing ones?

Why is the automobile industry so focused on building new cars instead of repairing existing ones?

We need to optimise the use of the assets we already own !

By Oscaro.com

The automotive industry provides more than twelve million jobs in Europe. Hence, its future concerns us all. Automotive companies are re-imagining their business models and looking to the future. It is common knowledge that tomorrow’s car should be clean, hybrid or electric, affordable.

Despite the combined efforts of car manufacturer and of Original Equipment Manufacturers, the existing car fleet and most of new vehicles are equipped with an Internal Combustion Engine. In short, the automobile industry is still embedded in the past.

At Oscaro, we are committed to working towards a better use of the existing automotive fleet. Cars add convenience, comfort, security, and control and have become essential to our daily lives. Yet shifting to a clean future means that we need to take care of the present first: in this article, we want to share a few ideas on how to deal with it.

Innovation for a better use of the world vehicle fleet

Innovation in the mobility space, to which automobiles belong, is coming from start-ups and innovators, not only from automobile companies.

As an example, the field of intermobility is emerging quickly. We can now use various modes of transportation for a single journey. Many European start-ups are proposing projects involving multiple mobility solutions (train, bus, car, bicycle, etc.) and they are currently developing user friendly techniques to reduce the use of the private car.

Collaborative platforms will bring new mobility solutions to consumers as well: carpool and car sharing services… Most of them are emanate from the private sector and start-ups. The EUSP is a first step in that direction, which is why we’ve decided to support it.

Reducing the carbon footprint of mobility of today’s vehicles

The key to responsible mobility is to increase awareness on grey emission between businesses and consumers. One way of doing this is by using the life cycle assessment approach to measure the impacts of a vehicle from the design phase to its end-of-life, thus enabling it to effectively target environmentally positive actions.

Usually, production represents 25% – 30% of the vehicle’s impact on the planet and this corresponds to:

  • Raw material extraction and the production of the parts
  • Assembly of the vehicle, including manufacturing inputs and outputs.

The use phase impact of the vehicle on the planet represents 70% of its impact on the planet. To illustrate the approach, the Global Warming Potential of two cases was simulated, using Renault Lifecycle assessment (Megane IV).

  • In the first case, a consumer keeps its vehicle during 300 000 km, whereas a second consumer chooses to invest in the next generation of a similar vehicle.
  • In the second case, the new vehicle is supposed to consume and pollute 20% less than the previous one. The original vehicle is recycled.

The results of this comparison are illustrated on the graph above, and support a simple yet powerful idea: from an environmental and sustainability perspective, it makes more sense to focus on repairs and extending lifespan instead of building products that are meant to be renewed. It is our mission to make sure that cars are durable and reparable.

It is our responsibility to stand up for a Right to Repair!

For hundreds of years, Europeans have been buying products without worrying if they had the ability to repair them. They simply could.

Oscaro’s ambition is to help people have a great time with their rides. We achieve this goal by spreading the DiY values and providing a unique and fulfilling online experience that enables them to diagnose, maintain, repair, and upgrade their vehicles.

In 2007, the European Parliament argued that automotive data should be freely available as public good for independent repairers, distributors and consumers.

More than 10 years later, car maintenance has become much more complex: parts are not always available, data and repair manuals are still not accessible.

As a key player in the field of independent repair and environmentally engaged organizations, we ask for:

  • The right to fix our own product, or to choose someone we trust to do so
  • A fair access to service parts and tools, as well as diagnostics
In only 10 years, Oscaro has completely disrupted the way we maintain and repair our cars. It has been the first pure player to offer car owners the possibility to buy online original new spare parts from the most renowned manufacturers. It continues to strive everyday to offer the best customer experience, through innovation, just-in-time logistics, and a client-centric philosophy.
Mobility Funders and Founders Need to Get Together

Mobility Funders and Founders Need to Get Together

The European startup ecosystem has been thriving in recent years with mobility being one of the fastest-growing sectors, attracting innovators who are seeking to make a positive social and environmental impact.

Unfortunately, a lack of investment makes it hard for mobility startups to scale up as they must continually raise funds to simply stay in business.

Connecting funders and founders must therefore be a top priority for institutions and independent platforms which want to accelerate the shift towards a future of more sustainable mobility.

For more information:

Europe’s got talent, now it’s time to fund the startup movement

Funding the Movement

Easter traffic: soon cleaner…but no less annoying

Easter traffic: soon cleaner…but no less annoying

 

It’s nearly Easter, and that means…endless traffic jams. Well, not quite endless – there was one in Beijing in 2010 that lasted for 12 days, so you will hopefully get off easier than that – but it’s never much fun.

So while we are probably some way from consigning traffic jams to the scrap heap of history, we seem to be moving that way for fossil-fuel powered vehicles and dirty mobility options. We need alternatives, and that’s why we at the Solar Impulse Foundation have committed to select 1000 clean, efficient and profitable solutions to protect the environment.

Clean transport implications

And while our scope goes beyond mobility, the implications of clean transport are about much more than just how we get around. For example, In Europe transport accounts for more than a third of our total energy use, and while electric vehicles are central to decarbonizing the transport sector, it will also cause the demand for electricity to skyrocket so how that electricity is produced, and the efficiency with which it is used, are key factors. Indeed, the amount of electricity needed could actually hold back the uptake of these clean technologies.

The point espoused by Bertrand Piccard, the chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation and someone who knows a thing or two about clean – if unconventional – mobility – is that solutions exist that protect the environment and are economically viable and that rather being seen as an expensive cost, should be seen as opening up new industrial markets and creating jobs and profit.

What do some of these solutions look like?

Well, there’s a great variety; consider petrol vehicles, which are going to be with us for some time yet. Anti-smog have created a hydrogen fuel enhancement kit which injects hydrogen into the engine allowing for a more complete combustion of fuel in cars, thereby reducing engine emissions by up to 80% and increasing fuel efficiency by up to 20%.

Finding ways to improve efficiency are all over the place, and certainly includes the physical design of the vehicle. Airshaper are providing tools to help constructors figure out designs to reduce aerodynamic resistance, which accounts for more than half of the energy required to keep a heavy vehicle moving at 100 km/h, and reducing that resistance by 20% can cut overall fuel consumption by a tenth. Across the EU, lorries, buses and coaches are responsible for around a quarter of road transport carbon emissions. Or what about Solvay, who have found that by adding Silica to tires, they are able to reduce rolling resistance significantly, leading to a 7% improvement in fuel efficiency, and therefore reduced emissions for the same trip.

It’s not just for cars and trucks, though; the phrase “innovative and sustainable railway sleepers” may not be the stuff dreams are made of, but GreenRail have made just that; a sleeper that lasts longer, cost 40% less to maintain, and cuts down on noise pollution. Most remarkable though is that for every kilometer of train track, some 35 tons of recycled plastic and rubber are used in their manufacturing! They were selected as the Best Startup of 2017 at the second edition of Startup Italia Open Summit this past December.

And if we rethink urban mobility, let’s consider all those cities with rivers and lakes that can be used to reduce congestion, which is costly; Paris loses some 10Bn EUR in lost productivity each year because of it. That’s where Seabubbles comes in with their low-cost, energy-efficient electric water-taxi service. It’s quick, comfortable and runs off energy produced cleanly at its docking station. As you’ll see from the video below, it seems a lot more pleasant than sitting in traffic.

It’s clear that a great many solutions, in addition to the electric and hydrogen vehicles that will increasingly populate our roads, are part of this transition, and we are looking to help bring them to the fore. So as you sit, stuck surrounded by your fellow drivers pondering why you decided to take this drive in the first place, consider submitting your solution to be included for consideration as one of our 1000 Efficient Solutions.

Solar Impulse Foundation

Following the success of the first solar flight around the world, the Solar Impulse Foundation has launched the second phase of its action: selecting #1000solutions that can protect the environment in a profitable way, and bring them to decision makers to encourage them to adopt more ambitious environmental targets and energy policies.

 Through the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, Bertrand Piccard wants to federate the actors of the field in clean technologies and shed light on existing efficient solutions to fast-track their implementation. A new innovative and pioneering adventure has begun – together we can improve the quality of life on Earth.