Smart Mobility getting noticed as Cleantech

2009 is the year that smart mobility got noticed as a clean technology. I have complained here before that technology to reduce consumption (things such as road use at congested times, repeated circling to find cheap parking, or pay-as-you-drive insurance), had been overlooked until recently. This is changing.

At the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX), in the first week of December 2009, Skymeter placed in the CIX Top 20 and took top spot in the Clean Tech Individual Heat.

Below, you can see Skymeter’s CEO, Kamal Hassan (unrelated to the famous Bollywood star!), is looking the part, too. His firm was named twice earlier in the year. In March, IDC Canada named Skymeter one of '10 Canadian Green IT Companies to Watch', and in October, the Corporate Knights named Skymeter as one of the Cleantech 'Next 10' Emerging Companies.

These awards and mentions were hard-won by Hassan, who was repeatedly rebuffed by clean-tech venture throughout 2006-2008, because there had been no ‘category’ for technologies that mitigate travel demand, rather only for technologies that made the same or more happen more cleanly. According to Justin Horner, transportation policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, 14% of total (US) emissions come from light duty vehicles. Reducing that number, he said in a discussion about PAYD insurance requires three critical components for cleaner automotive travel: lower emission cars, cleaner fuels, and fewer miles traveled. The third leg, demand reduction, has been missing from green-investor baskets until now.

So how does Hassan’s Skymeter technology do this? By enabling governments to make road use payments and parking use payments visible to drivers rather than hidden in other forms of taxes such as property, income, sales or fuel, pay-as-you-go technology permits a shift in awareness which is well known to translate into avoidance of travel at congested times and places. Such a shift reduces single-occupancy-vehicle travel at rush hour and replaces it with other modalities such as time shifting, carpooling, transit, walking, biking, telework, trip chaining, and even moving closer to work. The drop in traffic volume and emissions level is usually around 15-25%, depending on price levels and available alternatives.


Pundit, Nicholas Parker, Executive Chairman of,
Cleantech Group, predicted 10 new trends for 2010:

One of these trends describes exactly where Skymeter plays:
Electric cars take the back seat to smart mobility
In 2009, electric vehicles and hybrids eclipsed fuel cell vehicles as the undeniable new center of gravity of the auto industry. Virtually every car company in Asia, Europe and North America announced ambitious clean car strategies, and many brought new models to market, in addition to startups funded by venture capitalists.

In 2010, clean cars will form part of a broader shift to smart mobility. Smart mobility will quickly permeate beyond simply the transport sector, and will be integrated into the new energy paradigm and influence the design of urban systems, even shipping ports. Look increasingly in 2010 for eco-city designs based on concepts such as “new urbanism.” Leading governments around the world will rethink tax systems, fiscal incentives and budgets to encourage greener forms of work and transport based on smart mobility concepts (SNCF, the French state-owned rail operator, set up a fund in 2009 specifically to invest in e-mobility.) [emphasis added]

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