Transport, from Carl Benz to billionaires launching themselves into space, is the lifeblood of our global economy and has clearly come a long way. However, the industry hasn’t been able to come far enough when it comes to sustainable transportation. According to the EPA, transportation is the leading cause of GHG emissions, taking up nearly a third of the total industrial output.
That’s why we wanted to kick off our Valuer Top Ten List this month by taking a deeper look into the sustainable transportation startups developing innovative technologies and solutions.
Through the use of our AI-driven platform, we generated a list of startups and ranked them using our Valuer scoring system to discover more about the innovative startup ecosystem in sustainable transportation.
Criteria: the Valuer score
The Valuer score is an objective ranking of a company that is a cumulation of different criteria calculated by our platform. Measured on a scale from 1 to 100, the Valuer Score reflects a company’s success, growth potential, maturity, innovativeness, and sustainability based on the available data and in comparison to the other companies in our database.
The Success criterion uses company data, including its funding history, age, and size to calculate where a company is currently situated.
The Growth criterion uses a combination of data, including the company’s development and funding history, to forecast potential future growth.
The criteria for Maturity include the company’s current development stage, funding history, and operational size to determine its level of self-sustainability.
The Innovation criterion reflects how unique and original a company’s approach is at addressing an issue or a market gap compared to its peers.
Sustainability reflects the scale at which a company’s products and services can be used to make business operations more sustainable.
The top ten sustainable transportation startups
Here's our list of the top ten sustainable startups in transportation based on our Valuer score. Of course there are many innovative and successful startups out there, these just so happen to be the ones that came up on our radars through our platform as some of the best.
Eco-friendly vehicles come in all shapes, so we’ll start at the tail-end of our list with Evoke Motorcycles, a Hong Kong-headquartered electric motorcycle startup with research and development offices in Beijing. Evoke has shown great promise in sustainable transportation since its official launch in 2018, and not for nothing - currently, it’s listed among the top players in the high-performance electric motorcycle market.
Evoke Motorcycles has become an industry leader in eco-friendly vehicles due to the smart technology, sleek design, and highly efficient proprietary battery that allows faster and safer charging - the latest model, the 6061, even features a 15-minute quick-charge function.
The electronic control unit’s smart technology ensures that the controls and safety sensors provide a smooth ride. At the same time, the user-friendly interface gives the rider quick access to settings and parameters. It also features navigation and integration with EM smart apps.
But the startup isn’t only a part of the sustainable transportation movement because the bikes are powered by electricity - they also design and employ eco-friendly automotive components and powertrains.
Currently, Evoke Motorcycle offers three Italian design-inspired models - the Urban S, Urban Classic, and the 6061. Urban S has the slowest charge time of 3 hours, and the Urban Classic takes 1 hour to charge. The Urban’s have a top speed of 130 km/hr, while the 6061 goes all the way to 230. All three models are suitable for both urban and intercity transport.
BattSwap is a fully automated disruptive sustainable transportation solution for EVs - instead of charging your battery, it swaps it! The company was founded in 2016, California by Radek Janku and it seeks to provide a full-scale, automatic system of quick energy transfer for electric cars that takes no more than 30 seconds.
This presents a time-efficient, easy-to-use, and cost-effective alternative to charging stations, which usually take hours to charge your car’s battery - that is if you manage to find an available charging station. Plus, new ultra-fast charge systems result in high energy losses, which isn’t very sustainable.
BattSwap’s solution comes in the form of portable PLUG-N-GO stations that can accommodate over 100 cars in one day, and the company estimates that it will be able to provide service for a million electric cars by 2025. These stations are designed to automatically provide a new car battery, i.e. a charged battery, to EVs, right after retrieving the empty one.
Our next stop in sustainable transportation comes from Bengaluru, India, where experienced engineers Narayan Subramaniam and Niraj Rajmohan are ready to take on both electric and petrol-based motorcycles with a premium and price-competitive electric bike - the F77 by Ultraviolette.
What sometimes happens with eco-friendly vehicles is that they’re too pricey for the regular consumer. Luckily, Subramaniam and Rajmohan have focused on this issue precisely, and aim to price the F77 as close as possible to premium petrol motorcycles.
The F77 is a performance bike that indeed looks like something from the future, with a 147km/hr max velocity and a smart interface that, in the company’s own words, “makes Jarvis seem so vanilla.” If it weren’t for the devastating end of the last Avengers movie, we would have said beat it, Tony Stark.
The interface allows you to customize settings, analyze your last ride, run diagnostics, etc. The bike’s battery comes with a standard and a fast charge, which last 5 hours and 1.5 hours, respectively. The bike will be launched in India early in 2022 and will be available globally in 2024.
It’s difficult to talk about sustainable startups without dipping into ride sharing services, which brings us to YEGO, an electric scooter ride sharing company based in startup central - Barcelona. YEGO is a significant part of the urban mobility movement in Barcelona, offering over 600 scooters in the city that users can ride at their convenience, though YEGO has also expanded its services to Valencia, Sevilla, and Malaga in Spain, and Paris and Bordeaux in France.
The way it works is simple: you download the YEGO app, choose your payment plan, and gain access to all the electric scooters in the designated YEGO area in the city. In some cities, YEGO also offers e-bikes and e-standups.
You can find an available scooter near you on the app, and then use your smartphone as the key to start the engine or open the top box. Once you’re done, you can just leave the electric scooter within the YEGO activity zone.
The YEGO package includes insurance, two helmets, and a pre-charged scooter - one less thing to worry about. YEGO has also branched out and offers its services to businesses.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is as close as we’ve gotten to a near-zero emission vehicle. While electric cars produce little tailpipe emissions, electricity is not always the eco-friendly fuel it's made out to be.
On the other hand, hydrogen’s tailpipe emissions include only water and vapor, and emissions from the production of hydrogen fuel have near-zero emissions, making them a great option for sustainable transportation.
Future vehicles may truly become the eco-friendly cars we all envisioned and will at the very least include FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles), and Riversimple, founded by racer Hugo Spowers, is here to lead the way amongst other hydrogen fuel cell companies. Riversimple has been around for over a decade, but this sort of technology takes time.
More recently, Riversimple partnered up with Siemens to increase funding and resources, and its prime model - the Rasa - is set to go into production in 2023 with 5,000 eco-friendly cars getting manufactured per year.
The company’s business model is adjacent to a circular economy - rather than selling cars, they are to be leased out on subscriptions and monthly payments, ultimately being owned and taken care of by the manufacturer. And as far as sustainable startups go, Riversimple is looking very promising.
The need for eco-friendly vehicles originates in part from polluted, traffic-riddled cities - but no one said the solution can’t be airborne. Urban air mobility, the idea of an air-based sustainable transportation system within cities, has inspired the folks over at Airborne Motorworks to design eVTOLs, or Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicles. If you’ve seen how artists imagined the future at the turn of the last century, Airborne Motorworks is here to tell you that they were right.
The US-based company has developed a proprietary Electromagnetic Gyroscopic Propulsion motor (EGP) that runs on electricity and has been optimized to lift heavy vehicles in an energy-efficient, reliable, and sustainable way. The starting point of the company is creating eVTOLs for personal transportation, though they also intend to expand the patented EGP technology to the motors of all eco-friendly vehicles.
The global transportation of goods is accountable for a high carbon footprint, which is why the Detroit-based company Traxen offers a way for trucks to contribute to more sustainable transportation systems.
Ali Maleki, Traxen’s founder, has launched iQ-Cruise, an intelligent cruise control software that reduces fuel spendings by 10%. The adaptive cruise control system works for both electric and traditional, internal-combustion trucks, and is speculated to lead the way for self-driving trucks, as they’ve already perfected speed control.
So, how does iQ-Cruise work? With the use of sensors, algorithms, and AI, iQ-Cruise determines the ideal speed and acceleration of the vehicle based on environmental factors like landscape, traffic patterns, and climate.
Furthermore, the technology improves driver safety through relevant warnings that don’t distract the driver and give them ample time to react. Using accumulated data and AI and Machine Learning, the company expects fuel savings through iQ-Cruise to grow from 10 to 15% by 2023.
Uniti Sweden is one of the top upcoming electric and sustainable transportation startups that plan to go global, though the startup was founded in 2016 by Lewis Horne.
After multiple crowdfunding campaigns and both angel and institutional investors, the company partnered up with Siemens to gain access to the support and funds necessary to reinvent electric and eco-friendly cars so that it’s easier on the environment and affordable. The last stage of production before the car was released for sale took place in the UK, due to the engineering resources the country has to offer.
The star model of Uniti Sweden is Uniti One, a compact, climate-neutral little vehicle that seems to be the perfect eco-friendly electric car made for the city. It’s a three-seat ride with a glass, panoramic roof, active safety features, and a driver’s interface that is likened to that of a smartphone.
The materials used in building the car are sustainable, composite, and bio, which adds to its status as a part of the group of sustainable transportation startups leading the way in innovative technologies within the sustainable transportation industry.
EH Group Engineering is a sustainable transportation startup that strives to revolutionize hydrogen fuel cell technology for a decarbonized future. The startup was founded by Mardit Matian and Christopher Brandon in 2017, in Switzerland, and has since developed a patented fuel cell technology of stacks and systems.
The patented technology has allowed EH Group to manufacture cells that are “more compact, lightweight, and efficient.” The cells are efficient both in terms of energy and costs, as power-draining loads have been trimmed down to a minimum and the micro-design has reduced production costs. The compact, lightweight design of the cells makes them a great option for forklifts, boats, trucks, buses, etc.
Outrider is a hugely successful, Colorado-based startup that’s out to make yard operations more sustainable and safe. They manufacture near-zero emission electric yard trucks that are autonomous (self-driving) and designed to be extremely safe for humans for two reasons. First, they do all the dangerous stuff in yards so humans don’t have to, and second, their sensors ensure that no human is harmed in the vehicle’s daily operations.
Distribution yard owners can enjoy the benefits of Outride that don’t stop at sustainability and automation, but also better profit margins. After all, the streamlined, repetitive, labor-intensive process required at yards is the perfect place for self-driving vehicles to start exploring where they can take us.
The sustainable transportation startups around the world
The future of sustainable transportation electric?
Or at least, the present is. For the most part, current efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions are focused on developing electric vehicle technologies. The main problem with electric vehicles, as we’ve already mentioned, is the fact that the power plants supplying that electricity aren’t always green.
[Related Article - Innovating Sustainability: The Future of Transport]
Biofuel technology, on the other hand, has taken a back seat due to lots of unresolved environmental and sustainability issues and needs some time to find new ground. Still, eco-friendly cars and sustainable transportation come in different forms, and we’ve also seen a couple of other trends gaining traction.
Hydrogen fuel cells technologies are one of them. In the past, engineers have tread carefully around hydrogen FCEVs because while the potential of hydrogen seems to be vast, efforts to make it efficient have been inconsistent, at best.
However, decades of research and persistence have helped engineers develop fuel cells and eco-friendly cars that maximize hydrogen efficiency and utilize every last bit of power, much like Rasa’s mechanism for regenerative braking, making this a viable disruptive technology in sustainable transportation.
The overall startup ecosystem we found is a healthy one, especially within sustainable transportation technologies and solutions. This is a good thing for the environment, but as far as business collaboration and/or investment opportunities where do you start? At Valuer, we aim to make innovation and opportunity easier and our platform does just that.
With this list, we wanted to showcase just one feature of our platform, but we think it’s a good example of the potential starting block it can give anyone looking for new investment opportunities and collaboration.
Through our scoring system and AI algorithm, we take away uncertainty and in place provide data-driven insights where you can start your innovative journey. Find out more about what our platform can do for you.