September 14, 2021 Press Release

Auto Innovators Forum: Broad Spectrum of EV Thought Leaders Outline Unique Opportunities on the Horizon

Auto industry, utilities, environmental and advocacy groups unite behind the promise of a cleaner future. 

Washington, D.C. - The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) today hosted a dialogue about the comprehensive approach needed for a successful transition to an electrified transportation future. The event focused on the conditions necessary to expand EV adoption, including the roles of various stakeholders to make the widespread deployment of electric vehicles in the U.S. possible.

“To make the transition to EVs smoothly and successfully, we need to do more than build the vehicles. While consumers are increasingly receptive to EVs, there are still some hesitancies. Foremost among them, concerns about being able to recharge their vehicles whenever and wherever they drive them. Collaboration from both the public and private sectors is necessary to meet the challenge of transitioning America’s fleet to electric,” Auto Innovators President and CEO John Bozzella said.

Joining Auto Innovators’ John Bozzella for the digital event were Max Baumhefner, Senior Attorney, Climate & Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Maria S. Bocanegra, Commissioner of the Illinois Commerce Commission; Kellen Schefter, Director of Electric Transportation at Edison Electric Institute (EEI); and Terry Travis, Managing Partner and Co-founder at EVNoire.

“Charging infrastructure has to become more ubiquitous, very similar to how an individual gets into an internal combustion vehicle they know there’s going to be a gas station in some range or distance, we have to make charging infrastructure more visible, we have to make it more inclusive, and as we’re planning this we have to have impacted voices at the table,” EVNoire’s Terry Travis said.

In addition to the need for widespread access to EV technologies, panelists discussed utility customers and how the benefits of a cleaner future can be realized by all, in terms of renewable energy integration to the electric grid as well as the opportunities if leveraged correctly that EVs hold for the grid.

“I think the question for all of us is how do we take electrification and actually make that a symbiotic relationship and not a challenge. You have this big resource coming onto the system in the form of EVs, now we could potentially leverage it,” EEI’s Kellen Schefter said. “We want to make sure we are putting the EV load on the system in a way that’s beneficial for the whole system – while this whole other transformation is taking place with much more solar, much more wind, and other renewable resources that need to be integrated and managed.”

The event offered interesting perspectives from the state and regulator side.

“It’s not just public-private partnerships, it’s even state agencies communicating with one another as to how they might be handling either state funds or federal funds or dispensing with certain statutory mandates,” Commissioner Maria Bocanegra said. “As commissioners we want to know, what are the other investment opportunities out there, and where can our utilities make these investments at the least cost ultimately to ratepayers.”

While discussing supply chain considerations, panelists touched on recycling and repurposing prospects for vehicles.

“We have a good track record here in the automotive industry that we can build upon. And these huge batteries that individual customers are buying could be a huge grid asset,” NRDC’s Max Baumhefner said. “That symbiotic relationship between cleaning up the grid and using the batteries on wheels to lower the cost of doing so is very much real, and it’s something that we hope to expand upon.”

The recently released EV Infrastructure Guiding Principles focus on the importance of infrastructure investments and developments, including legislative and utility-based processes and policies that will support more customers as they buy or lease EVs.

“As industry and other stakeholders continue to work together, battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrid electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, all have a role to play in the transition. Car companies are responding to consumer needs in different segments and in different regions where different technologies might be favored or more effective for consumers. But working through those things is really going to require collaboration, and Auto Innovators looks forward to continuing efforts to reach a cleaner, safer, and smarter transportation future,” Auto Innovator’s Bozzella said.

With new designs and technologies changing the future of personal mobility, automakers are working to bring consumers the safest, cleanest, and most advanced vehicles possible. In addition to today’s Future Driven Forum and the EV Infrastructure Guiding Principles, Auto Innovators has continued to host important conversations and outline key measures needed for the success of a competitive auto industry in a series of documents including the Driver Monitoring Principles, the Electric Vehicle Agenda, the Innovation Agenda, and the AV Policy Roadmap.