A public charging station in the Netherlands for an electric car. Photo: Gemeente Amsterdam

By Linda van Rooij
Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco

Few sectors innovate as fast as smart and e-mobility. Cities worldwide are investing more in their cycling infrastructure, and electric cars will soon be the norm. Efforts to reduce CO2 emissions have resulted in a global awareness that your daily commute contributes to climate change. Society is willing to change its behavior, and industry is changing with them.

That’s why this week, mobility experts from the Netherlands and the US are joining the first Dutch virtual trade mission on smart and e-mobility to discuss the future of mobility.

On Monday, more than 100 businesses watched Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag and California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis open the mission, which is organized by the Dutch e-Consulate in San Francisco.

Leaders in mobility

In the world of e-mobility, both California and the Netherlands are important players. In Silicon Valley, tech companies are pushing the boundaries of innovation and sustainable transport every day, while the Netherlands is leading the way toward greener and more efficient transport with its unique biking infrastructure and tech traffic projects.

The virtual mission is meant as a meeting ground for leading mobility businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, facilitating partnerships and economic growth in a challenging time.

“As a frontrunner in mobility and urban planning, the Netherlands has much to offer the US West Coast,” said Consul General Gerbert Kunst. “An important e-mobility influence is our aim for a sharp reduction in greenhouse gasses. This is resulting in sustainable mobility innovation that is supported by Dutch business and government alike. A perfect match for California and its focus on zero-emission and electric vehicles. In a field that is not only impacted but also significantly changed by the current coronavirus, sharing innovation through international collaboration is more important than ever before.”

Many Dutch companies indeed feel the need to prepare for the sustainable future of urban planning, inspired by the country they live in to find new solutions and initiating new modes of transportation.

“The Netherlands is a relatively small, but very concentrated country,” said Constantine Demetriou, head of international development at the Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop. “Public transport is very developed, but that is the here and now. Environment and sustainability are very important in the Netherlands and this is creating the pressure to change the mobility mix. As a result, the Netherlands is a breeding ground for new and innovative methods and the Netherlands government is focused on encouraging new methods of transport like hyperloop or other methods of smart mobility.”

Due to the popularity of the online event among Dutch businesses, a diverse and representative delegation of the Dutch mobility market will be virtually present at the mission this week.

“We are participating in the virtual mission on smart and e-mobility because we want to learn more about the American market,” said Lars Kool, CEO and founder of the Dutch firm Urban Mobility Systems. “I expect to have interesting and motivating conversations with people who are passionate about what they do, share our knowledge with each other and see if we can help one another. Of course, if it would have been possible, I would have loved to fly to the US to meet everyone in person.”

Neither the Netherlands nor California have ever participated in a virtual trade mission, making this virtual event an exciting pilot with an eye toward the future.

“The virtual trade mission is a first for both California and the Netherlands,” said Consul General Kunst. “It is especially important that we keep working on our international relations during these trying times, continuing to further our cooperation in finding solutions for global societal challenges. This mission is a great example of that. It furthermore shows how the Dutch bring innovation to Silicon Valley.”