Hyperloop in Sweden : Evaluating Hyperloops Viability in the Swedish Context

Detta är en Master-uppsats från KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.); KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.)

Sammanfattning: Transportations role in society is increasingly important and today it has a prominent role in business, citizens lives as well as in the world economy. The increasing globalization and urbanization puts significant pressure on the existing transport system, with increasing demand for high-speed travel. However, this comes with implications on the environment, and the environmental concerns constitutes one of the biggest pressures in transport. And as the contemporary modes are bound by their technologies, enabling marginal rather than radical improvements, a possible window of opportunity for new radical technologies to enter the market can emerge. One new technology emerging within transportation today is called hyperloop, a technology that could prove to meet demand for faster, cheaper, safer and more environmentally efficient transportation. However, the technology is still in an early stage of development and hence surrounded by major uncertainties. Further, the nature of the technology necessitates overcoming several obstacles before it can reach commercial practice. And this together with a limited knowledge of the concept in Sweden makes it difficult to predict if hyperloop can become a viable transport alternative on the Swedish market. Which condensed lays the foundation to the purpose of this paper: "To give an overarching understanding of the Swedish transport market dynamics, together with a comprehensive evaluation of the hyperloop concept. And hence contribute to more inclusive knowledge and understanding of hyperloop’s viability in the Swedish context." Since the phenomenon has not been comprehensively studied previously, the elected research design is that of an exploratory case study, with an inductive, qualitative approach. To address the purpose, a literary review of the theoretical field was conducted. Looking in to previous research on disruptive innovation, diffusion of innovations, technical transitions, transformational pressure as well as window of opportunity. The empirical material gathered during the research process was derived from two main channels. Firstly, an extensive review of scientific articles about the hyperloop technology was conducted, providing insights on the technology and its surroundings. This was complemented by qualitative interviews to obtain material on the dynamics of the Swedish transport market as well as for understanding hyperloop in the Swedish context. The empirical study was further accompanied by a review of news articles and websites to map the most recent progress in the hyperloop development. By analyzing the empirical material through three frameworks; Characteristics of Diffusion, the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and Technology Readiness Level (TRL), interesting findings and conclusions were drawn. These together points towards that hyperloop, if the technology reaches its predicted performance, will have significant relative advantages and observable effects in the relation to the contemporary modes of transportation. Further, a noticeable window of opportunity, sprung from capacity shortages and pressure towards environmental sustainability, seems to exist on the Swedish market. A window which could be capitalized upon and justify hyperloop in the Swedish context. The current state of the technology does however come with implications as it so far is insufficient to decrease uncertainty amongst the potential adopters. Factors that likely will prolong the adoption of the technology in Sweden relates to the relative complexity of the system, its limited compatibility with existing practices and the low maturity of the technology. Hence, the hyperloop companies must prove the concept feasible and increase the maturity to gain sufficient acceptance and recognition. This paper contributes to the academic community by assessing the compatibility of hyperloop on the Swedish market, as well as if hyperloop could become a viable alternative transport solution in Sweden. It provides insight to specific perspectives of the Swedish market, its requirements and the demand for alternative transport solutions. Hence, this paper is considered to make both an analytical contribution in terms of evaluating the viability of disruptive technologies. And an empirical contribution by shedding light on new important insights for the potential diffusion of hyperloop. Insights that are significant for hyperloop actors as well as for dominant actors on the Swedish transport market.

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