Friday, 7 November 2014

Powering the Paradigm Shift to Sustainable Transportation - SkySMART by Shweeb

When I worked at McMaster University’s Institute for Automotive Research & Technology (MacAUTO) as Director of Marketing & Communications, I was commissioned to research thousands of technological innovations in history and to design an infographic titled "Powering Sustainable Energy Systems Through Innovative Research & Technology Convergence". I loved the project as it employed some desktop publishing skills I picked up over the decades and it gave me a chance to collaborate with one of the world’s top electro-mechanical engineers and authors of several books Dr. Ali Emadi.
The high resolution version of the infographic I cannot distribute online (only in presentations) depicts the most game-changing technologies from 1800 to present in three paradigms: Transportation, Energy Power Systems & IT. This infographic I am proud to say is on display at the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) in Hamilton, ON.


One of the many story lines that one notices in the infographic is that for the first time in history we are embarking on a period of massive technological convergence (1+1=3 synergy) that will change the world like never before. Reflecting now on this project that I spent several months on, I can say to you with confidence that SkySMART by Shweeb belongs on the next generation of the infographic and more importantly in cities around the world. SkySMART may prove to one of the most disruptive technologies to be introduced this generation with huge implications for mitigating climate change while spurring along the cleantech economy through infrastructure building projects. SkySMART is not just a transportation system but a energy producing system incorporating solar on top of the guideway and at stations a la Solar Roadways. The guideway can also be the conduit for unsightly overhead telephone wires, fibre optic cables and everything else that is costly to put underground or tends to be destroyed during the increasingly more common flooding events caused by climate change.
If you look at the Danes, the Dutch and other cycling based societies, you see tremendous mental, physical and economic benefits directly associated with active lifestyles. Just ditching your car and starting to cycle to work is not the whole answer however, because bicycles take up a lot of surface level space and North American cities weren’t built for bike lanes. In Japan, they have resulted to building huge underground bicycle vending carousels (Eco Cycle) that swallow up and spit out bikes as an alternative to inefficient bike racks everywhere. 
SkySMART is better, because it is a 3D cycling-based monorail transit solution (up to 4 guideways 80 ft high) using wasted air space above boulevards, streets and sidewalks. SkySMART is envisioned to be a national public utility and employs gamification to incentivize people to pedal. Those that pedal pay less AND travel 10 kph faster! Our research studies show the system can move up to 10,000 people per hour using clean renewable energies for creature comforts inside each fully teched-out two, five or twelve person pod variation. SkySMART is an on demand service too, so no waiting— it leaves when you arrive! SkySMART also nicely complements other forms of mass transit.


The media loves the Shweeb SkySMART story and rightfully so for all of the above reasons and because it is so cool and Jetsons-like. Whizzing over gridlocked traffic is a dream we all have had for generations, but now it is finally possible due in part to Google Robocar (driveless car) technology and other advancements with renewable energy and battery technologies.


With the lost productivity numbers of $6 Billion per year due to gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area alone it is clear we need better transit. One of the tastiest bits of the SkySMART by Shweeb technology, is that it is powered by renewables and human pedal power reducing the operational costs dramatically compared to other forms of transit. 
Benefits of SkySMART by Shweeb
• Significant public health care cost savings
• Emissions free travel lowers GHG output
• Up to 30% less capital intensive than other transit systems
• Creates local green jobs
• Uses locally produced electricity & human power
• Fun to use
• Reduces stress and anxiety for commuters
• Saves consumers money vs paying for gas/ parking
• Requires less maintenance than other forms of transit
• 90%+ based on proven technology
• Provides a unique green investment opportunity with an excellent ROI
Everywhere I go know I see places where SkySMART guideway systems should run, to help us put an end to the madness created by increased urbanization, growing populations and perpetual increase in the overall pace of our unsustainable societal structure. The next time you see a boulevard in between streets, think about how this space could be better used with a 3D transit system getting people from malls to transit stations or from urban centres to airports. The possibilities are endless and the technology is 90% off the shelf. All that is needed now is investors, so we can build it!
You can help today by contributing to the SkySMART by Shweeb Indiegogo campaign.

Shweeb-Can Corporation website:

For blog posts by Stephen Bieda go to

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Impacts of the Human Inability to Grasp the Concept of Time Outside the Natural Lifespan

If our focus is on the very short time scale economic actions, and not on weighing the impacts of our actions within the context of the impact on our environment, then we are effectively working towards the shortening of our existence as a species. 

If preservation of our species is the ultimate collective goal then we must have nothing less than universal unalienable environmental rights established in 100% of global jurisdictions. The right to a clean and healthy environment must forever be the most fundamental principle of society. The common denominator is the human time-scale, therefore the shortest length of time we must weigh our environmental and economic impacts upon, are no less than one human generation. 

A more risk averse and less potentially catastrophic set of economic and geo-political plans would be based on a period of centuries or millennial periods of time. Unfortunately our species seems to have tremendous difficulty thinking beyond the human generation time frame.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Democracy, Corporatism & the Treadmill of Maximizing Shareholder Returns

Democracy is not in the cards for corporatists. The pandering, sensationalism and distraction techniques are correlated with the rules of the game being skewed in favour of the interests of the publicly traded corporations, or so they think. The power and influence pendulum has swung too far to the right due to tax laws which changed back in the 70s.

Corporations dictate public policy-making and what stories make headlines because profit maximization is their be all and end all. They don’t all do it because they are immoral, but because the corporate tax laws are such, that there is no other choice. Once you are on the treadmill of maximizing shareholder return, you just have to exploit every resource and market you can and work your PR engine to mitigate public discontent. It is sort of a ‘be careful what you wish for’ type scenario. This is what happens when blind faith in an overly simplistic trickle down/ free market economics strategy becomes the soothing sound byte that inoculates the minds of constituents for far too long.

Roger Martin author of Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL, has the backstory and a solution worth studying.

Ironically, putting shareholder returns ahead of customer satisfaction is simply moronic for both individuals and corporations in the long run. The basic problem is the definition of “long-run” in the minds of the public has gone from decades to days, or even minutes. Knee jerk impulse rules the day.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Why Tesla Motors Should Sponsor Youth Sports -- Now

This is my response to Forbes contributor Bob Cook's article titled: "Why Tesla Motors Should Sponsor Youth Sports -- Now" published May 15, 2013.

As a former dealership owner and longtime dealer advocate that fought the good fight against oppressive OEMs for a decade, I am concerned about Tesla’s direct selling strategy. But, full disclosure after selling the family dealership, I became an electric vehicle industry consultant and I love Tesla cars. I also love the hope Tesla brings for more sustainable forms of transportation and I love Elon’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Like many industry insiders, my concern is that Tesla is circumventing the dealer franchise laws, laws which support the rights of small and medium sized privately owned businesses, at least in the short term (more on this last bit later).

Small businesses employ the majority of people in North America and do not typically outsource jobs and are not in the position to dodge human rights or squirrel away profits in tax havens. Dealerships are among the single largest groups of employers in North America. And on the flip side, one only needs to look to Bangladesh for copious examples of publicly traded corporations with abysmal records on corporate social responsibility. Why is this? Well, because global companies have mutilated tax laws everywhere to maximize shareholder return.

Now, I am not saying Tesla outsources or has a questionable human rights record whatsoever! On the contrary, I suspect they are highly responsible in these areas. What I am saying is there needs to be a way to protect dealerships because as described in the “Why Tesla Motors Should Sponsor Youth Sports — Now” article, dealerships often do support local community efforts and create local jobs.

Recently, some of Mr. Musk’s hi-tech chums like Michael Dell, have interestingly made efforts to shift back to privately owned by buying up stock. Sure Tesla is not in the position to make such radical moves in its corporate structure with only one quarter of profit under their belt, but wouldn’t it be great to hear something on the corporate social responsibility side from Tesla? An outside the box strategy would be to differentiate itself from other publicly traded/narrowly focused shareholder return motivated companies, that gobble natural resources and eventually exploit human rights at will.

The missing piece of the puzzle for me and others to adopt a totally fresh auto brand like Tesla that embraces clean technology, would be a company that is not publicly traded or even privately owned, but a co-operative. What a novel auto company that would be, one that wholly embraces sustainability for the benefit of all and addresses the hollowing out of the middle class!

Now with all this said, what has been stated by Tesla is that breaking into the auto industry as a start-up, is like breaking into Fort Knox (I paraphrase). The reason for the most part is the intensely competitive nature of a very mature auto industry. So this is why I tend to favour the approach that has been tabled in Texas where the direct selling bar might be temporarily lowered to a 5,000 vehicle per year level. This allows an upstart like Tesla to not have to bare the massive costs of setting up franchises from the word go. To me it sounds like Tesla knows that at some point they will have to invest in setting up traditional franchises, but for now, they need a chance–a lower cost route. This makes good sense to me to from a Competition Bureau or Anti-Combines Act perspective, because is reduces oligopolistic forces and allows innovation to accelerate. Lower the bar for a period and then, once you are on your feet thou shalt comply!

So let’s hope Mr. Musk and Tesla continue to build incredible zero emissions cars that transform thinking not just from and enviro-technological perspective, but also raise the bar on corporate social responsibility.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Revenge Of The Electric Car A Big Deal | EarthTechling

Unfortunately I had to miss the premiere of Revenge of the Electric Car in Toronto last month.

No word on the ROTEC site on when it will be coming around again either leaves me considering organizing a viewing of my own with fellow EV enthusiasts in the Hamilton, ON area. Anyone have Chelsey Sexton's cell number?

Walking the green carpet into the theatre sounds rather cool too. If you have interest in seeing ROTEC before it hits DVD or online mass distribution sometime next year drop me a line and I will add your name to my contact list.

Revenge Of The Electric Car A Big Deal | EarthTechling

Revenge Of The Electric Car A Big Deal | EarthTechling:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Green Fleet Expo comes to Hamilton

 2011 Hamilton, Ontario

The Courtyard by Marriott and the Warplane Heritage Museum, co-hosted the 6th Annual Green Fleet Expo (GFX) in Hamilton June 2-3, 2011. With over 300 delegates this year, attendance was up over GFX V, which was hosted at Centennial College in Toronto last June. The GFX is organized by the City of Hamilton, City of Toronto, Fleet Challenge Ontario and The Ministry of Transportation. The GFX is the premier show for fleet managers interested in greening their fleets in Ontario with delegates from all across Canada in attendance.
From left to right: Carol Layton, Deputy Minister of Transportation, Neil Sentance, Assistant Deputy Minister Ontario Public Service Green Office, Mike Goodale, Assistant Deputy Minister Ministry of Transportation, Jon Norman, Director, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Ron Campbell, Director Ministry of Environment

Informative presentations, expert panels and plenty of networking took place at the Courtyard Marriott on day one while product displays and a Ride and Drive with some of the latest electric vehicles, hybrids, and PHEVs were featured on day two amongst one of the finest collections of restored military aircraft in the nation at the humbling confines of the massive Warplane Heritage Museum.

On display at the Warplane Heritage Museum was an assorment of electric passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks like Canada Post's electric E-Star delivery truck
From Left:  Chris Hill, City of Hamilton, Steve Clark of Canada Post and Mark McGrew Navistar
For electric vehicle industry advocates and enthusiasts of electrified transportation, it is crucial to see government and corporate fleets, as the essential pilot projects for the launching of new green vehicle technologies. For fleet management, it is all about "TCO" (total cost of ownership) and environmental responsibility which is why City and Corporate Fleet managers are the most  critical part of accelerating the adoption of PHEVs, BEVs and other emerging technologies like hydrogen fuel cell. 
Tips from Fleet Manager Pros - Generating Green Fleet Buy-in
  • Extend oil change intervals where possible from 5,000 kms to 10-12,000 kms
  • For procurement use the LA4 Standard for comparing the range and performance of passenger light-duty EVs
  • Set goals of converting 10%+ fleet vehicles to hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV by next budget period
  • Don't let staff use drive thrus to eliminate idling (lower GHGs)
  • In BC join EC3 Fleet
  • Subscribe to the Fleet Challenge Ontario newsletter
  • Set performance based conservation benchmarks
    • i.e. reduce diesel usage by up to 9,000 lts through ground-based solar
On Thursday morning, the GFX kicked off with presentations on advanced fuel saving technology for heavy-duty vehicles from Rolf Lockwood of Today's Trucking, followed by Al Cormier from Elecctric Mobility Canada speaking on the task of implementing Canada's Electric Vehicle Technology Road Map. These presentations lead up to an exchange of best practices for lowering operating costs for City and Corporate fleets through the selection of the lowest GHG emitting vehicles available. 

A number of City Fleet Managers and City fleet staff were present to share their Green Fleet success stories including: Bill Barr from the City of Guelph, Yvan Lupien the City of Ottawa, the City of Hamilton's Chris Hill, and Doug Smith of the City of Vancouver. City of Toronto's Gerry Pietschmann was present however he did present.

Leading city Fleet Managers from across Canada: Doug Smith of the City of Vancouver, Bill Barr from City of Guelph, Yvan Lupien from the City of Ottawa and Chris Hill City of Hamilton
During Cormier's EMC presentation, delegates learned that 60% of energy in Canada comes from renewable sources while in the US, only 20% of energy comes from renewables. He further noted that Canada is in good company amongst other eco-energy leader likes Norway and Germany. Cormier also made the prediction that battery leasing will be increasingly crucial to the adoption of EVs in Canada and that battery pricing will fall to $300-$400/kW/hr in one to two years.
Al Cormier - CEO of Electric Mobility Canada
For more on why fleets are the key to the new green transportation technology equation see the early adoptor background on the EMC website.

After the morning break, Tom Odell of Toronto Hydro discussed their electric vehicle test program called SmartExperience. Before getting to the heart of the current technology, Odell led in with a brief reminder for delegates that in the mid 1800's there was no less than three competing transportation technologies: ICE, electric and the often forgotten--steam power!
Tom Odell of Toronto Hydro speaking on SmartExperience
Odell explained that Toronto Hydro has 45 SmartCar electrics coming to Canada for the hydro smart program. The retrofitted SmartCars will be available on a four year lease for $545/mo and 15 of the vehicles will be awarded as a part of their ambassador program. If that sounds expensive, think about the fact that there are no added fuel costs to pile on. The purpose of the program is to acquire data from the CrossChasm equipped vehicles so that the charging load impact on the grid can be better understood. CrossChasm is a Waterloo, ON based start-up specializing in powertrain design, vehicle simulation, control systems and fleet validation for hybrids and full battery electric vehicles. 

From By Odell's calculations, these SmartCar electrics will operate at one-fifth the cost of their ICE counterparts. Toronto Hydro further estimates that the City of Toronto can accomodate 125,000 electric cars or approximately 10% of all vehicles in the City based on current energy supply utilizing smart charging and smartgrid technologies to permit charging in off peak hours.
Deputy Minister of Transportation Carol Layton addressing the issue of re-introducing provincial incentives for electric motorcycles. In 2009, street electric motorcycles were eligible for an 8% PST refund amounting to over $1,000 in savings but in spring 2010 under a shuffled provincial ministry the refund was rescinded.
Available in the Ride and Drive, was the Mitsubishi iMiEV with a newly announced Canadian MSRP of $35,998 or $2,397 less than the longer range Nissan Leaf which also announced Canadian pricing last month ($38,398). Mitsubishi's new EV Fleet Manager David Murphy was onsite and clearly pumped about the fleet opportunities for the iMiEV. With 18 years experience in the automotive fleet business, Murphy knows the ropes. As I had a chance to sit with Murphy and talk shop on the iMiEV roll-out in Canada, he explained that consumers should begin to see the Mitsubishi 135 km all-electric iMiEV beginning November 2011.

I got to drive the iMiEV at last year's GFX at Centennial College and was very impressed with the simplicity of the vehicle and the spirited acceleration. It was a little strange however, driving a right hand drive vehicle for the first time. The iMiEVs in Canada last year were right hand drive Japanese models, so getting used to the signal controls was odd indeed.
Rolf Lockwood from Today's Trucking takes a questions from Roger Smith of Fleet Challenge Ontario
Although I did not get to attend the Ride and Drive on Friday at GFX VI by all accounts the event was a success and I look forward to attending again next year.