June 25, 2024

Blending tradition with innovation: seaglider opportunity in Japan

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  • There is growing interest in seagliders in Japan from leading shipping, aviation, tourism, and logistics companies.  
  • More than 80% of the country lives near the coast, making seagliders a compelling transportation option.  
  • Seagliders could help advance the country’s energy-transition goals.  

How do you honor tradition while advancing innovation?  

That’s a question we think about a lot at REGENT as we design, develop, and introduce seagliders to communities around the world. Mixing old and new is central to our unique approach to improving coastal transportation.  

Seagliders draw from centuries of established boatbuilding practices while leveraging the latest cutting-edge technology. They follow the rules of waterways while redefining the rules of what’s possible for wing-in-ground vehicles. They respect local practices while offering faster, more convenient transportation options.  

Read more about seagliders here.

Japan excels at blending tradition and innovation. This is especially evident in the maritime industry, where the country’s long history as a sea power and the central role of the ocean in its economy mixes with modern products and services designed to meet the needs of the 80% of the population living in or near coastal areas.  

A growing interest in seagliders in Japan reveals a significant opportunity to develop a robust ecosystem that respects existing customs and practices while offering a new transportation solution that improves lives and livelihoods.  

“The ocean is central to daily life in Japan, and our vision is to honor and strengthen that connection by providing convenient, sustainable transportation solutions for moving people and goods between coastal destinations.” — Adam Triolo, VP, Commercial Business Development, REGENT

Growing the seaglider ecosystem in Japan

We’re partnering with leading companies in shipping, aviation, tourism, and logistics that share a similar drive to increase efficiency and create sustainable transportation options in the country. Seagliders could service 25 million passengers (about double the population of Tokyo) each year in Japan.  

MOL Switch, the corporate venture capital firm of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), one of the world’s largest shipping companies, is our latest strategic investor. The partnership is an important step forward for market adoption in Japan and for advancing sustainability in shipping.  

Read our press release about our partnership with MOL Switch here.  

Japan Airlines Innovation Fund, the venture arm of Japan Airlines (JAL), invested early last year in the company’s largest overseas investment at the time. JAL's experience in passenger transportation has played a pivotal role in understanding how seagliders can seamlessly integrate with and augment Japan's existing operations.

Similarly, Yamato, Japan’s largest parcel delivery and logistics company, became a strategic investor last year and has provided valuable insights into the potential impact of seagliders in the cargo sector. For example, seagliders could fill a gap in delivery capacity, transporting packages along underserviced coastal routes.    

Meanwhile, H.I.S. Group, one of Japan’s largest travel agencies, is partnering with REGENT to transform the travel experience and promote sustainable tourism.  

Seagliders could reach under-serviced communities and reduce transportation times.

Business case for energy transition

Our analysis, combined with insights from our partners, shows that seagliders have the potential to add millions into the Japanese economy while also advancing the country’s goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030. If seagliders were to replace other forms of transportation that service regional coastal routes, they would offset more than 1.6 billion kg of CO2 each year, the equivalent of removing almost 400,000 cars off the road.  

According to the latest World Economic Forum Energy Transition Index, released last week, Japan is among the top 20 countries with the most enabling environment for the energy transition, driven by the strong political commitment and regulation in the country.  This suggests continued appetite for sustainable solutions like seagliders that also provide business opportunities, reduced costs, and increased efficiencies.    

For example, Oita, a remote prefecture located on the island of Kyūshū, is already investing in better coastal transportation, seeking to improve connectivity throughout the Seto Inland Sea, and embracing cutting-edge mobility technology including hover and spacecraft. Seagliders could particularly benefit communities like Oita by providing passenger and cargo transportation, medevac solutions, and maritime patrol.    

“We’re committed to bringing operators, customers, and local leaders together to learn how seagliders can benefit dispersed communities with prevalent access to the sea. Together, we can create an ecosystem that meets their needs, honors Japan’s tradition, and creates a sustainable future.” — Triolo