Trio of startups working to improve transportation
It was the transportation sector that received the most clean-tech venture capital dollars in the U.S. in 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, Lyft raised $1 billion from General Motors and other investors, while Uber raised $200 million from a single investor. The momentum continued into 2017
(no totals are available yet for 2016) with electric bus maker Proterra announcing the close of a $140 million round of funding to accelerate its production process and Tesla competitor Faraday Futures debuting its first production electric vehicle (EV) equipped with self-parking capabilities.
Following these trends, nearly a dozen stakeholders from Hawaii’s public and private sectors signed a memorandum of understanding to electrify Hawaii’s transportation sector. The initiative is called the Drive Electric Hawaii Initiative. Its goal is to power our ground transportation by 100 percent renewable energy.
In December the 5,000th electric vehicle was registered in Hawaii. The state Energy Office reported in November that the fuel cost per year of driving a Nissan Leaf is half the cost of driving a Nissan Versa. The International Council on Clean Transportation projects Hawaii sales of
EVs to account for 1 in every 10 vehicles sold in
Here are three startups doing transportation-related work in Startup Paradise, which is the Hawaii startup community:
>> FreeWire Technologies: The California-based startup is working with Energy Excelerator and Hawaiian Electric to install two EV chargers at the Honolulu Airport Trade Center. Unlike stationary EV chargers, FreeWire’s chargers look more like a battery on wheels. They can be installed without construction or permitting, they utilize second-life EV batteries and the units can be recharged when a large amount of renewable energy is available on the grid.
>> Volta: The startup founded in Hawaii by Scott Mercer has 38 EV chargers across Oahu and Maui, according to the company’s website. You may have seen venture accelerator Blue Startups’ charging stations at Ala Moana Center, Whole Foods on Oahu and Maui, and Pearlridge Center among a handful of other locations.
>> TransitScreen: The San Francisco and Washington, D.C.-based startup installed its real-time transit displays at Honolulu’s
Frank F. Fasi Building. TransitScreen’s mission is to increase use of public transit options through real-time information and design.
The displays showing expected arrival times for buses and Uber (and on the mainland expected arrival times for trains and distance to bike-share stations) are typically placed in government, commercial and apartment buildings. Like FreeWire, TransitScreen is a part of Energy Excelerator’s portfolio.
FreeWire CEO Arcady Sosinov operated the company’s robotic electric vehicle chargers at a launch event in November.