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The Technology of the Future- Solar Roadways

Maria Martinescu
May 30, 2014












The strategic planning process
Solar roadways are a product made of a new kind of solar panels meant to be stepped and
driven on, which will ideally be used to cover all roads, landing strips, parking spaces, driveways, bicycle
paths and sports arenas in the future. The hexagonal panels are made of recycled glass and other
recycled materials up to 80%. They will replace asphalt and concrete and if in need of repair one panel
can be changed at a time in a fairly short amount of time. This feature alone will save millions of dollars
in road repairs, avoid traffic delays and expenses in car repairs from damage related to potholes. The
panels are designed to maintain a temperature a few degrees above freezing so there will not be any
snow covered roads, ice scraping on roads, salt damage to cars (which causes the undercarriage to rust)
thus saving a lot of time and money both in taxes and repair costs, not to mention time saved. LED lights
are integrated in the design, so patterns on the surface they cover can be changed to serve different
functions. As such, lanes on roadways could be changed according to traffic patterns, or parking spaces
could be changed according to the need of the moment. Safety features are also integrated because the
panels have pressure sensors and are connected to the internet so a driver could be alerted when wild
animals are crossing a roadway for example or a tree has fallen on the road so they could receive a
message to slow down and be alert.
The benefits dont end there. The solar panels generate cheap energy while serving all the other
purposes. The USA would have more clean energy than it needs, all the while getting clean air and
changing the environment for the better. Also, the jobs created to manufacture and install these panels
will revive the sluggish economy we are dealing with in the present. The panels will pay for themselves
in a few years because of all the money saved in gas, road maintenance, repairs to cars and because of
the revenue produced by them.
Idaho-based Solar Roadways has finished building a prototype for this product and are crowd
funding the project, meaning that they hope to raise enough money from investors to start production.
The plan is to start small, with private driveways, patios, walkways and business parking lots, and gain
momentum because people will start to find out about the panels, talk about it, and so the movement
will gain momentum leading to all roadways being replaced one day in the future by the solar panels.
S.W.O.T
The main strength of Solar Roadways is that it brings a fascinating product to the market, something
truly innovative that no one has done before. The product has so many benefits that it is hard not to be
impressed by all the features and good it will bring to the economy, the environment and population in
general. The competition for this product is basically nonexistent.
The weakness is also that the product is too new and people may be extremely reticent to trust such
new technology. The funding for getting production started is not there yet and neither are large scale
production facilities; there are no trained workers or equipment to mass-manufacture the panels.
The opportunities are endless. The blue ocean territory that the company is in (W. Chan, Mauborgne,
2005) places Solar Roadways in a market so new that there is basically no competition. The firm could
secure government contracts to produce solar panels for the countrys interstate highways or oversee
production if the firm decided it does not want to deal with big-scale production. The company could
offer training programs for technicians that could produce install and service the panels. Also, the firm
could do the same thing internationally expanding to global markets.
The threats the company could face are competition if they do not secure the necessary patents
nationally and internationally, not finding enough skilled labor to produce, install and service the panels,
difficulties in switching from asphalt to solar panels due to the cost of removing and disposing of the old
materials, government regulations that could slow down or even stop the process, initial cost of
production, unpredictable changes in climate in the next 10 years that could affect the installation of the
panels, general public reluctance to the new product for fear of breaking the panels, being electrocuted
by them, or information being leaked without their authorization (for instance about someones location
at a certain moment).
Market Segmenting
The market for Solar Roadways could be segmented based on consumers behavior. The private
consumer will use the product to power up their own home in order to save money on energy and not
have to shovel snow during snow storms. The commercial consumers (businesses and government) will
use the product for safety reasons, convenience and also to save money on energy costs.
Demographic segmentation can be done based on ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds of []
customers (Tanner &Raymond, 2011, pag.99). The firm could for example come to the conclusion that
the customers most likely to purchase its product are between 25-45 years old professionals from all
racial backgrounds.
Geographic segmentation is done to determine where the customers are located and how does the
location influence their buying decision. The firm could find out that the people in the northern part of
the US are more likely to purchase the panels due to the added benefit of melting the snow and ice off
the roadways and driveways, and focus their marketing in the north based on this feature.
Psychographic segmentation has to do with the customers values and lifestyle. As such, the company
may find out that the first people that are likely to get onboard with their product are tech savvy,
environmental friendly people who are informed about the risks of pollution and are willing to act on
their beliefs in order to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Solar Roadways can choose to pursue both consumer markets (B2C) and business to business markets
(B2B) (Tanner &Raymond, 2011, pag.99). Consumer markets would consist of private consumers that
can buy directly by accessing the firms website and scheduling a technician to come to their residence
to take measurements for their driveway, walkway or back yard and pay over the internet for the
product and installation. The energy produced could be used to power the house.
The B2B market consists of businesses such as supermarkets or malls which can install the panels in
their parking lots and use the energy produced to power their buildings, and also re-configure the
parking spaces as needed. Raceways, concert and sports venues could use the new technology as well,
not to mention that the biggest client for the company could be the government who owns the
infrastructure and could adopt the solar panel technology to save money it spends on road maintenance
and repairs and snow removal and also could use the energy produced to power up government
buildings, traffic lights, road lighting and so much more.
Target Marketing
A multi-segment marketing strategy targeted both at individual consumers and commercial consumers
(businesses and government) is the best for Solar Roadways because individual consumers can provide
the initial press and excitement about the product so that more and more people find out about it, and
start a positive image for the product, that in turn can influence businesses and ultimately the
government to adopt it as well.
Product Positioning
How the product is positioned in the minds of the consumers is extremely important. Solar Roadways
wants its solar panels to be perceived as a solution to the energy crisis, pollution and ecological health of
the planet we face in the present and as a solution to the same problems for the future generations.
Also, the product must be seen as a cost-reducing, money saving device that will improve the quality of
life to its consumers. Solar panels are expensive to buy and install but the cost can be recuperated over
5-10 years but after that, one basically has free energy. Public opinion is a powerful thing, and if enough
private consumers will be able to attest to the viability of the product, the popular pressure on
commercial customers will be too hard to ignore and the product has a good chance to be mass-
produced for the government.
Offerings: product, price, and service.
The offering the company could come with is comprised of the solar panels themselves, measuring for
them, installation, training in how to use them and service.
For individual customers the process of switching to a solar driveway could mean that a technician
comes to the house and takes measurements, schedules the work with the homeowner, then the old
asphalt is scraped away and the panels are installed. A company representative could then explain how
to use the panels and demonstrate all the features they have. Also, if anything malfunctions the lifetime
warranty that comes with the product includes repair to the panels or free panel replacements. The cost
is estimated at $75 per square foot.
For commercial clients the process is similar except that for mass production infrastructure will need to
be created to be able to make the panels, so a partnership with the government is more likely. The firm
could also decide to sell the patent to a different company and/or offer only consulting services such as
training and research expertise. Prices can vary based on the size of the project.
Because oil and coal are a finite resource getting more and more scarce Solar Roadways has a
really good chance of succeeding in creating a market for its product. It would not be surprising to see
more and more of it being manufactured installed and used in the near future.
















References:
Ingram Antony, Could Solar Roads Meet Our Power Needs? Crowdfunding Project Begins, Retrieved
from: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1092095
Tanner, J. F., & Raymond, M. A. (n.d.).,2011, Principles of Marketing, eISBN: 978-1-4533-4499-6
W. Chan Kim, Rene Mauborgne. ; Kim, W. Chan. Blue ocean strategy: how to create uncontested
market space and make the competition irrelevant /; Boston, Mass. : Harvard Business School Press, ;
c2005.