KODECO, a Turkish start-up excelling in advanced engineering projects, is designing and prototyping eco-friendly and economic transportation vehicles.
IF THE MASLOW'S Hierarchy of Needs was to be modernized based on the contemporary subjects that are affecting our lives, what new “needs” would be included? Internet and mobile devices would probably top the list. Actually, moving ahead of a need, access to internet has already started to be accepted as a “human” right, since France's highest court declared it so with quite a spectacular context and content in June 2009.
With the premise of there would be a universal consensus on the champion; it can be said the real hype would be aroused by the runner-up. Although it might not come to mind momentarily, with a little consideration, most of the people around the World who live in urban areas in particular, would give the same answer with a significant ratio. Just to give a hint; -leaving aside the urgent situations or pressing matters- when do we need the mobile internet the most? What is the most static part of our daily routine, during which we are pretty much paralyzed or imprisoned in a very modest space allocated to us, hence in need of internet access the most? The runner-up is the 4 Oscar winning production of 2001; Traffic. Transportation is covering a serious amount of our lives to an extent that people are making housing, career and social choices based on the accessibility to the mods of transportation. It affects our work, our recreational activities, our relations and much more so seriously that journey turns into the destination since we mind how we go more than where we go.
A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL PROBLEM
The most conventional mean of transportation and one of the main urban problems is the fossil-fuel based motor vehicles. It is estimated the number of cars in the traffic worldwide has exceeded 1.2 billion. It means that worst possible traffic jam you can imagine, in which all the cars are waiting in a lane and humbly accepting that the average length of a car is 4 meters, the total length of the traffic jam would be longer than 12 times the distance between earth and moon. Traffic is proved to be harmful for both physical and psychological health of humans. It is even harmful for the health of the earth since more 15% of the green gas production is caused by motor vehicles according to EPA. This ratio rises to an interval of 50%-90% in urban areas. They are also competing with heavy industries for the main cause of pollution title in some regions of the world. It might come peculiar but motor vehicles are even polluting the time. Although it varies based on the demographics and infrastructure of a city, the time spent in traffic is significantly disturbing in metropoles, particularly. For instance, according to a survey conveyed by a Turkish media company an average İstanbul resident is losing time in traffic that is between 7.5 hours and 9 hours each week. It practically means a workday spent for looking at the brake lights of the car in front of you. In the United Kingdom the time spent in transportation is registered as work hours for the people whose jobs are not in fixed office places.
So, this problem is widely acknowledged and there are lots of organizations, institutions and companies working on the subject. It means a remarkable amount of time –as addition to the time spent in traffic- man power and significant bundle of resources are being allocated for the traffic. In the era of entrepreneurship, of course transportation is in the agenda of some start-ups. Despite not being as ambitious and assertive as Elon Musk's vision of high-speed underground transportation, there are many more innovative and solution-oriented projects ongoing. Among them there is a Turkish start-up envisioning a more sustainable, ergonomic, economic and eco-friendly transportation for the future.
A START-UP BORN OUT OF COMPETITION
Kodeco is an enterprise focusing on R&D, innovative ideas and advanced engineering projects, which specializes on vehicle designs and prototyping. The story of the start-up begins when Kerem Odabaşı, the founder of the company, has been selected as the captain of the team, which will represent Ege University in the TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Counsil of Turkey) Formula G Solar Powered Car Races during the time he was studying at the university for his doctorate degree. After managing to form a roster consisting of engineering students from different partners, the team manufactured their first solarpowered racer. At this point, Odabaşı started to think what else he can do by integrating renewable energy and hightech into the project. As the result, a vehicle, which can be utilized in urban transportation, emerged out of the project.
Proving its success, the solarpowered tri-wheel vehicle is used in Seferihisar, the first “Citta Slow” (Slow City) of Turkey. Over the course the project secured a financial support in the extent of TÜBİTAK Entrepreneurship Support Program, and commercialized as it marks the founding of KODECO in 2013.
The first commercial product of KODECO was the ultra-light land vehicle, “ECOtour”. Thanks to its trademark chassis design and photovoltaic battery system, ECOtour turned out to be a comfortable and eco-friendly transportation vehicle, and the first ever sale has been made to the largest ice cream factory of Europe in Konya to be used for the transportation of guests and security personnel.
THE NEXT GENERATION TRANSPORTATION
The first born of the start-up ECOtour is distinguishing itself from other electricpowered vehicles with its advanced photovoltaic technology integrated into its patented design. The power system enables the vehicle function with 100% solar power. The system is cost effective, whereas operating with zero noise and emissions.
ECOMOD is the fourwheeled electrical vehicle with an optional solar power support. The production process is ongoing and the test drives have been initiated. The unique side of this project is its innovative energy management system.
KODECO conducted a systematic R&D process or this project that is in accordance with the L6e light vehicle class in terms of motor power, weight and speed limiting. The project is planned to be commercialized to meet different sectoral needs like transportation, logistics and F&B services. Hence, along with a standardized chassis and energy conduction platform, there are various optional customized parts.
Thanks to its pluggable battery system and customizable design options, ECOMOD can be used as in airports as Cargo carriers or will be able to serve coffee in university campuses. Subsequent to the approval process, it will also work as a transportation mean in urban areas.
ECOMOD is capable of generating its own energy with its attachable photovoltaic platform. The use of high efficiency (22%) mono crystal silicium cells provides 500W energy. This energy is storable in the battery of vehicle as well as being able to support sound systems, F&B heating and cooling systems, electrical technical service equipment or any other specific system requirements OTOMOD is the vision project of the start-up, which is recently initiated. The self-driving electric vehicle will be utilized particularly in campus areas and airports. Working with a barcode system, the passengers will be able to reserve seats or learn about the travel time via a control panel. The charging points will ensure an uninterrupted mobility. The projects test drives will be made in İstanbul Technical University Maslak Campus.
THE EFFECTS OF A NOURISHING ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM
During its journey, one of the milestones was getting support from İzmir Entrepreneurship Program, which carried out in the extent of TİM-TEB Start-Up House. Kerem Odabaşı states that, thanks to the program, they moved in the ecosystem they want to be in rapidly. Sharing experience and insights with other entrepreneurs, and getting support in terms of consultancy, business model, target audience, sales&marketing and similar disciplines, has accelerated the operations and development of the start-up. The mentorship given by the start-up house is another key aspect in the development of KODECO, especially in regards with important meetings with potential investors and clients. Furthermore, Odabaşı also acknowledges the positive effects of physical conditions provided byn TİM-TEB Start-Up House.
A GLIMPSE FROM FUTURE
ECOMOD and OTOMOD are expected to be commercialized in a short period of time. Although the start-up has not started to export, there are already several connections with international events, among which use of ECOMOD at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is looking highly likely. KODECO is operating with a futuristic vision, in which transportation is improved in terms of economy, ecology and efficiency. One of the key aspects of a sustainable World is undoubtedly an ecofriendly and economic transportation system, and KODECO vehicles are showing a glimpse from the transportation of future.