Many startups have taken up the fight against climate change, often developing technologies and concepts to reduce CO2 emissions. At CO2OPT from Hamburg, the focus is on optimal tire selection for trucks, which can reduce fuel consumption and thus improve the climate footprint.
High gasoline prices and increasing environmental awareness are leading more and more people to pay attention to driving a car in the most fuel-efficient way possible. The most common tips include driving with foresight to avoid heavy braking, upshifting in good time to stay in the lower speed range, or avoiding unnecessary ballast to keep vehicle weight down. For professionals such as logistics companies, there is another essential factor: the tires of the vehicle fleet.
Frank Seeger knows tires inside out. For 16 years, he worked for Continental, a leading company in this sector, including as Director of Sales in Mexico and in the implementation of digitalization projects. In 2020, he took a sabbatical year and developed the idea for CO2OPT. The startup was then officially founded in the second half of 2021, with Benjamin Bartsch, who also worked for Continental for a long time, and Siddhant Tibrewal, a software expert who studied at Hamburg Technical University, as co-founders.
CO2OPT explains the basic principle of its business idea with the help of plausible comparisons. High heels are just as unsuitable for walking on the beach as sandals are for mountain climbing. And even a world-record sprinter like Usain Bolt couldn't win a race in heavy boots. Even more obvious is an example from motorsport. In Formula 1, the right tire choice often determines victory or defeat.
Unlike in car racing, of course, what matters in freight transport on the road is not the highest possible speed, but the lowest possible fuel consumption. A number of factors have to be taken into account when selecting tires there. In the case of multi-axle trucks, for example, the axles are subjected to different loads depending on where the freight is located. Another criterion is the location of operation; in mountainous regions, the energy expenditure is greater than in flat country. The road surface also plays a role; a gravel road places different demands on the tires than asphalt. The decisive parameter here is rolling resistance.
Since the circumstances under which a truck is on the road can change depending on the tour, there is no one optimal set of tires. It is therefore important to know the exact operating profile of a vehicle. Telematics data collected by companies is a great help in this regard. This information can be used to optimize route plans so that, ideally, individual vehicles are always operating under very similar conditions. This makes it easier to select tires that offer the best possible savings potential. As a rule, more than one type of tire is used per truck, which is partly due to the different axle loads, as already mentioned.
CO2OPT uses artificial intelligence (AI) in its data analysis and resulting recommendations. The AI has also determined that a reduction in fuel costs of up to 10 % is possible. An extensive field test can now confirm this. A transport company driving for a global car manufacturer covered 300,000 kilometers in one year for test purposes. In some cases, the trucks remained equipped with the original tires, in others they drove with the tires recommended by CO2OPT. The predicted savings potential was 4 to 7 %, which was confirmed in reality.
Nevertheless is CO2OPT a software company and not a tire dealer. The startup merely makes recommendations, ensures complete neutrality, and can find the optimal tires. The business model offers even more services in terms of tire management. Customers can create a digital twin of their fleet with little effort. Telematics data can be transmitted manually. However, it is recommended to use an interface (REST API) that enables automatic and continuous data transfer. A seamless transfer of information also makes sense because it trains the artificial intelligence and enables it to deliver more and more precise analyses.
To increase the awareness of CO2OPT and its software for tire analysis, the cooperation with KRONE, a traditional family-owned company for commercial vehicles, contributes. There is a link to CO2OPT's offer on the customer platform. Contact with KRONE was established via the Digital Hub Logstics in Hamburg's Speicherstadt, with which the startup is connected in many ways. It also has its company address there and uses the excellent network. In addition, a pitch competition for logistics startups from the StartAperitivo event series was held there in March 2022. CO2OPT not only won the audience vote, but also attracted the attention of a large Hamburg-based company, which later generated initial sales.
The first place at StartAperitivo started a small series of pitching successes. These included winning at Plug and Play's Expo at Factory Hammerbrooklyn in Hamburg in October 2022 and at SLUSH in Helsinki in November. Startups from the four German metropolises Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg competed there. CEO Frank Seeger was particularly pleased that this pitch focused on the topic of transporting goods by road. This is still indispensable and will remain so for the foreseeable future. It is therefore all the more important to develop solutions that reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible.
CO2OPT is working to continuously expand its service offering. Existing first-time customers do not have to pay anything extra for new developments in 2023; they are included in the overall package for 89 euros per year and vehicle. One of the topics being worked on with vigor is automatic tracking of the current tires, which forms the basis for subsequent optimization of fuel consumption. Photos of the tires can already be sent to CO2OPT via WhatsApp, but these can naturally only give an approximate impression. Electronic devices already exist for the exact measurement of tread depth. The trick would now be to equip them in such a way that they could transfer the data directly to CO2OPT's tire management software.
Keyword software: CO2OPT employs an international development team of freelancers based in countries such as India, Pakistan and Nigeria. However, the core team of four is still based in Hamburg, which qualified the startup for the funding just approved by IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH's InnoRampUp program. If everything goes well, the first major round of financing will be concluded in the spring. CO2OPT is optimistic about this, because the future definitely belongs to business models that contribute to climate protection.