Our society is highly dependent on transport; it is necessary for economic growth and to connect people, creates jobs and encourages the exchange of goods, services and culture.

However, this activity is leading to an ever-growing amount of polluting gases. According to the World Bank, transport is the fastest-growing source of energy-related carbon emissions — currently producing more than seven billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (GtCO₂) a year.

As population and urbanisation rates continue to rise, traffic congestion builds up and fossil fuels become more limited and costly, the pressure is well and truly on for efficient and environmentally friendly transportation options.

Luckily, as technology continues to advance, new and exciting transportation concepts are emerging — leveraging electronics to create sustainable solutions that minimise environmental impact and boost safety, accessibility and efficiency. Here are five examples…

1. Electric vehicles

Instead of the internal combustion engines found in traditional petrol and diesel cars, electric vehicles operate using battery-powered electric motors.

Pure-electric cars or battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) run solely on electric motor power and do not have exhaust pipes to create emissions, making them the most environmentally friendly choice.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) run on electricity provided by a small battery and petrol or diesel fuel. Their maximum range is usually between 15 and 30 miles, after which the car will switch to fuel power until the vehicle recharges. Alternatively, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) do not have a plug but use kinetic energy from regenerative braking to recharge their batteries on the move.

Smart connectivity, automation and interactivity are also massive selling points for EVs. With OEMs and start-ups alike churning out innovative new designs for the EV sector every year, the electric car market is forecast to continue its upward trajectory.

2. Advanced public transport

Electric buses (e-buses) and hybrid trains have also emerged as front-runners in revolutionising sustainable transportation.

Electric buses are proving to be an increasingly appealing travel option, offering affordability for users, accessibility for those without access to cars and a more sustainable option for the planet. So far, China is pioneering the electric bus movement, with bus fleets in major cities already completely electrified. However, the UK is starting to make great strides — recently investing £143 million of funding into the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) programme, which will see new electric buses in towns, villages and cities across England.

Another exciting advancement in sustainable public transportation is the development of hybrid trains. These trains combine electric power with traditional diesel engines, allowing for reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

3. Smart traffic management systems

Smart traffic management systems use real-time data, advanced algorithms and intelligent sensors to monitor traffic conditions and adjust signal timings accordingly. By synchronising traffic signals throughout busy areas, these electronic systems can help reduce the stop-and-go traffic that often leads to congestion and increased emissions.

A study by Juniper Research revealed that global CO2 emission savings could reach 205 million metric tonnes (MMT) by 2027 thanks to these systems. This indicates that smart traffic management is not just a technological upgrade; it is a fundamental shift toward creating smarter, more sustainable transportation solutions.

4. Renewable energy integration

Renewable energy must be integrated into transportation infrastructure for electronic solutions to be accessible and appealing to the masses.

Take electric vehicle charging stations, for example. These stations provide a convenient and user-friendly way for EV owners to charge their vehicles, reducing their reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Many public transportation systems are also now incorporating renewable energy sources to power their operations — like installing solar panels on the roofs of bus depots and train stations to generate clean energy. This renewable energy can then be used to charge electric buses and trains, further reducing the carbon footprint of public transportation.

5. Energy recovery systems

An energy recovery system is a device that recycles the energy normally lost when a vehicle brakes by storing and then using it for acceleration or starting, thus saving fuel and cutting emissions.

Energy recovery is achieved by raising the alternator voltage when drivers slow down and brake, which increases battery charging and helps the car slow down. When the car accelerates again, the alternator load is reduced to lighten the burden on the engine and cut fuel consumption.

Impressively, companies are now taking this concept one step further to create an eco-friendly solution that goes beyond individual vehicles. For example, social impact brand ROUUTE has created E:GEN™, a patented road energy recovery system that successfully captures and stores energy generated by vehicles as they drive over the road surface. This energy can then be stored locally in batteries, distributed into infrastructure or put back into the grid.

Ready to revolutionise transportation with sustainable solutions? EC Electronics delivers high-quality electronics manufacturing services — including cable and PCB assembly — for applications within the transport market. Contact our team at +44 (0)1256 461894 or sales@ecelectronics.com to discuss how we can support your next project.