Jonathan Coulter, senior consultant, recently returned from a trifecta of trade shows and conferences in Novi, Michigan. The Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, Battery Show of North America and Critical Power Expo make up an annual three-day event that brings together engineers, executives and suppliers to provide insights on electric and hybrid vehicle technology, battery technology, the critical power supply chain and more. Attendees participate in educational workshops and discussions, see the latest developments and innovations, and network with other leaders in the industry.
Jonathan shared with us some of his top takeaways from the event.
1. Electric vehicles are coming in a big way, and it’s not a matter of if but when. Recent growth has been surging and shows no signs of slowing down. The primary questions now are what kind of impact they will have and how industries can prepare.
2. One presentation detailed the four influences needed for market transformation: having a proven technology, government support, new infrastructure and consumer acceptance.
Electric vehicles are well on their way to filling these criteria. The technology – in terms of its efficiency, performance, safety and reliability – is ready. Support is coming from local, state, federal and utility levels, and much of it is focused on advancing charging infrastructure. For example, Electrify America, which came out of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, is investing $2 billion over the next decade in promoting zero emission vehicles throughout the country. Lastly, consumer acceptance continues to develop as people see more electric vehicles on the road and experience the joy of this technology at events such as National Drive Electric Week.
Importantly, Advanced Energy and its Plug-in NC program have their foot in many of these same areas. The transportation team works closely with electric utilities, particularly co-ops, to help them prepare for electric transportation, while Plug-in NC’s main goal is to help boost decision-maker and customer acceptance through awareness and education. The program plans events to spread the word about driving electric and works with organizations to support charging station installments.
3. Manufacturers are committed to electric transportation and are putting together detailed roadmaps for how they are going to support it. Their approaches revolve around gaining trust, knowledge and business. Once again, Jonathan came away realizing that much of what these companies are looking to do, Advanced Energy is pursuing as well – to be a bridge for market transformation between the push (of new products) and the pull (of consumer demands).
4. New battery technology is also ready to explode; however, there was not much discussion about the uses of batteries once they are no longer suitable for electric vehicles. Batteries are not a single-use technology, and investments can be maximized when these systems are recycled or reused, such as for energy storage.
Jonathan came away from the event feeling excited about the future of electric transportation and reassured in the work that Advanced Energy is doing. In future years, he hopes the expo will focus more on peak issues, load growth and battery applications while providing specific case studies and field examples. Overall, though, the three shows represented a great opportunity for Jonathan to learn from and connect with other experts in the field.