Mobility is one of the most fundamental and important characteristics of economic activity. We all have the basic need of going from one place to another – whether you are a business exec travelling across town (or even internationally) for a meeting, a manufacturer moving its product from the factory to the shop floor, or a parent dropping their kids off at school.
The extent to which mobility has shaped and changed society is not thought about enough. The development of the early rudimentary transportation networks was arguably the catalyst that led to the formation of the first multinational corporations, as well as enabled the major flows of international migration that has occurred since the 18th century. Today, transportation has become so integrated into our economies it accounts for 10-20% of total GDP spending in many major economies.
Whilst there is no doubt that more efficient mobility networks will continue to be a major contributor to future wealth creation and social welfare, it is quite clear that parts of our transportation networks are used above their designed capacity resulting in associated costs such as congestion (see: 2 week traffic jam on China expressway), accidents, and harmful urban air quality.
Against this backdrop of big markets with big pressure points, it’s no wonder innovators have been leading the charge on developing solutions across the entire value chain to build a more efficient less polluting transportation network. (For a database full of profiles and relationships of innovation companies across all cleantech themes, visit our new web information tool, i3).
Sample of Smart Mobility Innovating Companies
So what is innovation is occurring in the smart transportation landscape today?
In 2011, as the world begins its global rollout of EVs, innovation activity continues apace behind the scenes to build better batteries, lighter materials, and an EV charging infrastructure. Further to the right hand side of the value chain, companies such as GreenRoad and Fleetmatics have raised significant capital to manage existing vehicle fleets more efficiently claiming they can enable fuel savings of 10-15%. The IPO of car-sharing company Zipcar all but a couple of months ago further vindicated the emerging shift to a more resource efficient transportation network.
This all leads me to the conclusion that the transportation industry is changing FAST, and perhaps at a quicker pace than it has ever done so in history. Smart transportation innovations, like its earlier counterparts, will have enormous implications to our society. Big new businesses and ideas will result from it making it all the more important for industry stakeholders to keep abreast of all the latest ideas emerging from beneath the surface. Those that don’t may find their markets snatched away from them and be left crying in blistering coldness of bankruptcy.
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