Startups in Asia Tackling Energy Consumption in the Transportation and Logistics Sector

Flickr/CC/Mathias Apitz (München)

By Beatrice Loh

With many Asian countries experiencing furious economic growth, the demand for energy on the continent has seen a corresponding increase. Compared to world demand, energy demand in developing Asian countries is expected to grow much faster to cater to the growth needs of countries like China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations. Primary energy demand in Asia is projected to grow at 2.5% per annum and reach 7.1 btoe (billion tons of oil equivalent) in 2035, accounting for 42% of the world’s primary energy demand. It is thus crucial to find clean, cheap and sustainable energy sources.

Global oil demand is expected to peak around 2035 with more than 60% of this expected to come from the transport sector in Asia and the world. Asian countries are beginning to invest in energy-saving and emission-reducing projects. Amongst these efforts are startups all over the continent offering eco-friendly alternatives in the transportation and logistics sector.

Here are 7 startups all over Asia that are taking the energy demand problem head-on:

  1.     Gogoro

Electric scooters, bicycles and motorcycles have a huge market in developing economies in Asia. China is by far the biggest current market, with about a 96% market share from a unit shipment standpoint. Gogoro is a startup targeting the market with their Smartscooter and is now testing their technology in Taiwan.

“We want to take the No. 1 thing that is generating the most amount of pollution in China and the greater part of Asia and apply a sustainable, flexible energy source,” Horace Luke, Gogoro’s founder, said in an interview with GreenBiz.

Apart from creating a streamlined electric scooter, Gogoro’s main selling point is its innovative take on charging these vehicles to make them a more convenient and viable alternative for commuters. Gogoro’s scooters use swappable batteries, getting rid of the waiting time for a charging cycle. Based on a concept the company calls the Gogoro Energy Network, Smartscooter riders can stop and handle a quick switch at depots around cities where spares will be available.

  1.     Notteco

Carpooling helps reduce the number of cars on the road and consequently reduces air pollution, making it an environmentally friendly option for travel. In many cases, it is also a cheaper alternative to other ways of travel.

Japanese startup, Notteco, is an online platform through which intercity commuters can find driver or passenger matches. The company targets long-distance travelers between cities, increasing the cost savings of riders. Driving from Tokyo to Nagoya, a 350-kilometer trip, costs about 12,000 yen for highway tolls and gasoline. By carpooling with someone on Notteco, a user can expect to save up to three quarters of that amount, depending on how much the driver chooses to charge passengers. Passengers will also be able to rate drivers on their services and safety on the website.

“There are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways to travel. Car-pooling is one of them,” said Kohei Miwa, founder of Notteco in an interview with Bloomberg.

  1.     TalinoEV

US-based startup TalinoEV is also changing the face of the electric vehicles market by producing innovative and cheaper battery designs that will reduce the overall cost of an electric vehicle. Co-founders Marc Ira and Henry Abreu developed “smartpacks” that are composed of an efficient lithium-ion battery and a battery management system and that function as the “brains” of electric vehicles.

The company operates mainly in the Philippines and is working with electric vehicle manufacturers to cut the cost of their products by about half to equal that of gasoline-powered models, making the more environmentally friendly electric vehicles a competitive option to consider when purchasing personal vehicles.  

TalinoEV targets the world’s densest megacities because a shift to electric vehicles in those places would have a significant impact on climate change.

  1.     TruckSuvidha

The logistics sector is also a large contributor to the rising demand for oil. A major problem that many logistics companies face is cost-efficiency – often, trucks and delivery vans are not filled to capacity or have only a one-way journey with a full load and have to make the return journey with an empty vehicle.

“For every long route, most often there is no return shipment, making the truck transporter write off a one-way loss of quote higher prices,” said Ishu Bansal, co-founder of Truck-Suvidha, in an interview with The Economic Times. “With a Uber-like platform for trucks we are making sure the provider gets a return load.”

Truck-Suvidha is India’s first online marketplace for truck transporters. Connecting transporters, truck drivers, customers and other related entities, Truck-Suvidha increases productivity and convenience in the logistics sector. By making full use of each vehicle’s capacity, the company is cutting down the number of empty gasoline-guzzling vehicles on the road and thus reducing waste.

  1.    Lithium Cabs

Lithium Cabs is bringing green public transportation to India with electric vehicle cabs. The company was born with the idea of negating both fuel costs and the degradation to the environment brought on by hydrocarbon cabs.

Lithium Cabs also focuses on the safety of passengers, particularly women travellers, equipping its vehicles with the necessary apps and gadgets to ensure riders get to their destination safely. Safety features include a panic button, tamper-proof GPS and a mobile app that will allow commuters to communicate with the driver without sharing their phone number. Embedded software will also alert clients about unauthorized riders or if a cab veers off course.

Originally planned for Bengaluru, Lithium has seen interest from other Indian cities including Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gurgaon. Starting with just a hundred cars, the company hopes to have a fleet of 2,000 vehicles over the next two years.

  1.     Transkinect

Clean tech startups are on the rise in Singapore, with Transkinect being at the forefront with its innovative technology to harness kinetic energy. Claiming to be able to generate electricity by harnessing the lost kinetic energy when vehicles decelerate or brake with its new technology Movnetic, the company’s purpose is to transform every road into pathways for sustainable power and reduce the world’s dependence on natural sources.

“I developed this technology in line with the increased number of vehicles and paved roads in the world. When any car owner or drivers are driving their cars they are participating in generating green power in their city,” Ihab Seidy, founder of Transkinect, said in an interview with Consulus.

Movnetic is a Smart Hump that can be used in car parks, on the roads and at tollgates to generate electricity. It is cost effective and generates clean energy, making it a sustainable solution. Distributed power generation through Movnetic will quicken our ability to reduce dependence on natural gas and oil.

  1.     MyTeksi  

Launched in 2012, MyTeksi is a for-profit social startup with a mission to revolutionize the taxi industry. It currently serves 17 cities across 6 countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. Through an integrated app, MyTeksi links taxi drivers with passengers and promises safe travel through several safety features.

In 2013, MyTeksi partnered with Edaran Tan Chong Motor to offer free ‘taxi’ rides in Nissan LEAFs to passengers who booked their taxis through MyTeksi. Nissan LEAFs run on electricity and are an environmentally friendly alternative to usual gasoline-powered cars.

“We hope to see more of the Nissan LEAF as an option for taxi service transportation in the near future,” said Aaron Gill, product and marketing head of MyTeksi in an interview with Marketing-Interactive. It is encouraging to see one of the most popular taxi apps in Southeast Asia aim for sustainable alternatives that will reduce carbon emissions.