Feb 7, 2023 - Business

Report explores trends in rapidly evolving mobility industry

Illustration a sign post with three signs: “Robo-taxis,” “Trucks” and “Private Cars”.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Civilization was built on moving goods and people. Now — with electric vehicles, autonomous tech and the green economy — mobility is undergoing a revolution akin to when horses and trains were eclipsed by cars and planes.

What's happening: A report out Tuesday from investment firm UP.Partners is a compendium of research underlining important trends in the rapidly evolving mobility industry.

Why it matters: The global transportation and logistics sector is valued at about $10 trillion dollars annually. Emerging tech like flying cars and public-sector space travel are estimated to each reach $1 trillion by 2040.

  • "Ginormous isn't an overstatement," Cyrus Sigari told Axios. The co-founder of UP.Partners splits his time between Santa Monica, California and Bentonville, and he chaired the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility, established by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Flashback: A year ago, Hutchinson and a coalition of businesses including Walmart, J.B. Hunt and FedEx said they intend to collaborate to make the state a leader in "next-generation transportation" by 2030.

  • The council filed its final report in December 2022 to serve as a roadmap to help hit that goal.

Catch up quick: In addition to an optimistic view of the industry, UP.Partners' research highlights how shortcomings — lack of resources and infrastructure — could be cliffs for various mobility industries. Takeaways include:

1. Environment — Despite advances in technology, the transportation sector is responsible for 37% of CO2 emissions in the U.S.

  • Getting to net-zero by 2050, means reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22%, but the authors estimate they're growing by 11%.

2. Batteries — Demand to power EVs, bikes, drones and planes is expected to increase tenfold in the next seven years.

  • Shortages of raw materials are raising prices, so advancements in recycling tech are critical.
  • Researchers say the U.S. needs its own supply chain to avoid dependence on other nations.

3. Investments — 12% of venture capital invested since 2013 has gone toward mobility, the report states. That's an estimated $375 billion.

  • "Last mile" delivery and EVs account for 50% of the dollars invested since 2020.

4. Air and space — There's an estimated shortage of 18,000 pilots now, but that gap is expected to jump to 65,000 by 2030, or nearly 80,000 by 2032.

  • Tech innovations are reducing the cost of space travel and Sigari predicts an eventual lunar economy built around supporting life on the moon.

What to watch: Sigari sees the report as "open source research."

  • He hopes policymakers, entrepreneurs and investors use it as a compass.

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