Sustainable mobility isn’t just about building greener transportation systems. It’s also about how we build homes, businesses and cities. There are a few interesting stories this week on that front. America’s fastest-growing city, Austin, Tex., is struggling to accommodate its surging population due to burdensome housing regulations. And yet, in many cities and states in the Mountain West that are not traditionally viewed as “urban,” local governments are taking aggressive action to encourage new, denser housing. While the real estate industry is adapting to the surge in remote work with more home offices, the mayor of Washington D.C. worries that work-from-home threatens her city’s economy and vibrancy.
Even as Europe weans itself off Russian oil, Russia still possesses an energy asset that is very valuable to Europe’s decarbonization efforts: a massive nuclear power supply chain. Meanwhile, around the world energy firms are investing hundreds of billions to produce green hydrogen, a potential energy game-changer. And in Australia, researchers believe they have discovered a way to produce energy from a bacteria that consumes hydrogen in air.
Also: the UK government delays the second segment of a major high-speed rail project, e-trikes are a promising mobility option for seniors, Argo AI’s founders start a new AV venture, eVTOL startup Lilium achieves an impressive new speed, EV maker Faraday Future says a vehicle is coming, and Tesla faces an investigation over steering wheels.
HS2 delayed: The UK government announces a two-year delay in the construction of the second segment of the HS2 high-speed rail line. The existing segment stretches between London and Birmingham, and the second segment is intended to travel north to the greater Manchester area. The government attributed the delay to cost increases linked to inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
America’s fastest-growing city hampered by restrictive zoning: The droves of people moving to Austin, Tex., have driven up housing prices and are making it hard for low and middle-income people to stay in town. One of the big barriers to addressing the crisis is the city’s notoriously restrictive zoning rules, including a minimum lot size (5,750 square feet) that is five times larger than California’s. And Texans are supposedly against big government…
D.C. mayor calls for end to telework: With more federal employees working from home, local businesses in the nation’s capital are hurting, prompting Mayor Muriel Bowser to urge the Biden administration to send “most federal workers back to the office most of the time.” Her plea puts her in unusual company with Congressional Republicans, who say that telework has reduced the quality of service at some federal agencies.
Steering wheels are still required: Federal regulators open up another safety investigation into Tesla, this time because of reports of steering wheels falling off the Model Y. Since Tesla’s Full Self Driving isn’t actually fully autonomous, the steering wheel remains quite important…
Hope springs eternal at Faraday: Faraday Future, the Los Angeles EV startup, says it will soon begin production on its long-awaited FF 91 Futurist SUV –– but only if it receives another $96 million from investors. CEO Xufeng Chang says he believes the money is coming. Like many other transportation startups, Faraday struggled in 2022 with supply chain disruptions that prompted it to delay manufacturing and called into question its ability to survive. Good luck, Faraday!
Are those bugs in your tank? Researchers at Monash University in Australia have isolated an enzyme that allows certain bacteria to consume hydrogen and extract energy from it. The researchers argue that this process could be used to power small electric devices.
Let the eVTOL races begin: German air taxi startup Lilium reports that its eVTOL jet achieved a speed of 250 kph, or 155 mph, in a test flight. That comes two weeks after Australian eVTOL maker Vertiia, which has a cruising speed of 300 kph, completed its maiden flight.
Argo AI founders start new AV venture: The two founders of Argo AI, the AV startup that shut down last year after losing support from investors Ford and VW, are keeping the dream alive through a new venture. Bryan Salesky and Pete Rander have received backing for an AV company and have reportedly already hired several dozen employees.
Can shared e-scooters ever be profitable? Micromobility operator Bird reports Q4 earnings that beat Wall Street expectations but still fall short of profitability. TechCrunch highlights a few worrying trends in the company’s report, including a decline in rides per scooter.
Arrival keeps burning through cash: Troubled commercial EV company Arrival’s Q4 earnings report shows that it is burning through cash, with only about $205 million left on hand
E-trikes to the rescue: Tricycles aren’t just fun for kids. In CityLab, John Surico discusses e-trikes, an increasingly popular mobility option for American seniors. As Baby Boomers enter old age, many will lose their ability to drive but still live in suburban communities designed with only the automobile in mind. E-trikes are one of a number of promising options for older people to maintain mobility independence.
How remote work is changing home design: Stephanie Stacy writes in Business Insider about how the big shift to remote work is prompting the real estate industry to place a greater emphasis on home offices. Three times as many Zillow listings now mention “offices” as a year ago. Is that a shift in design or just marketing? Probably a little of both…
YIMBY zoning reforms sweep the Mountain West: In Utah, Montana, Idaho and Arizona, a rural or suburban lifestyle has long been viewed as a feature, not a bug. But as fast-growing cities in these states start to feel the pinch of a housing shortage, state legislatures are pushing YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) zoning reforms aimed at increasing housing supply and housing choices. M. Nolan Gray for CityLab describes the various reforms, from eliminating parking requirements to reducing minimum lot sizes and encouraging duplexes, that are popping up across the region.
The green H2 rush is upon us: The New York Times looks at the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of green hydrogen projects around the world, such as the massive effort led by BP in Australia’s Outback. That project includes 1,700 wind turbines nearly as tall as the Empire State Building and roughly 10 million solar panels.
The other big way Europe depends on Russia for energy: After making great strides in reducing its dependence on Russian oil in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe still relies heavily on Russia for nuclear power. Russia’s state-owned nuclear company is a major global supplier of uranium and is often hired to build nuclear reactors around the world. Now, European states are scrambling to find alternative sources.
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