Skip to main content

Elon Musk hints at new transportation concept & New Finnish Transportation Code

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On April 20, the Norwegian government hosted a <a target="_blank" href="…; in Oslo devoted to the transportation system of the future. As one of very few non-Norwegian organizations Drive Sweden was invited; Jan Hellåker reports from the meeting.

The PM Erna Solberg opened the conference and emphasized the need and urgency for Norway to use its national resources to speed up transition towards a sustainable transportation system. The rest of the speaker line-up was equally impressive, featuring e.g. the US Secretary of Transportation, Mr. Anthony Foxx who spoke about the on-going US Smart City Challenge, and the flamboyant CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle, Mr. Björn Kjos, who criticized most other airlines for not investing enough in their fleets to improve environmental standards. 

However, these were my two main take-aways:

In a discussion with Norway’s Minister of Transport and Communication, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk began to share his vision of what a future urban mobility system should be like, and what type vehicles would be required. He started saying “There’s a new type of car or vehicle that would be great for that and that’ll actually take people to their final destination and not just the bus stop”. Unfortunately he stopped halfway, realizing that media was present – "I have a bad habit of putting my foot in my mouth”. He did however confirm that self-driving capabilities would be a key component, and continued to talk about the [autonomous] performance of Tesla’s current car range. I happened to be recording this sequence; the video clip is available here. In my opinion Mr Musk’s brief statement was highly over-interpreted by many of the global media that naturally picked up this piece, but nevertheless, the fact that something like this is even on his (or Tesla’s) radar is obviously interesting. 

The second most interesting news to me was when Ms. Anne Berner (Finnish Minister for Transport and Communications) outlined the major changes proposed in Finland’s new Transportation Code [2] that had been launched two days earlier. The deregulation and open availability of data proposed is unprecedented, and is intended to be a foundation for deployment of Mobility-as-a- Service; a concept for which Finland has taken a clear lead.  I spoke to Ms. Berner afterwards and she commented that she is trying to convince her Nordic fellow ministers to follow suit.

Jan Hellåker, Program Director, Drive Sweden

(1) A recording from the entire Norwegian conference (mostly in Norwegian)

(2) The new Finnish Transportation Code