Day three, Wednesday, September 16, was packed with information for fleets, policymakers, business leaders and advocates about commercial EV options, transportation services challenges and innovations, autonomous vehicle projects and research, and heavy duty EV experiences to date. We kicked off with another virtual expo session, this time featuring EV OEMs: BYD, Orange EV, Lonestar Specialty Equipment and ADOMANI. If you attended, you got a sense of the rapid pace of development in this sector. If not, registered attendees can access the recording and connect directly with the exhibitors through Whova.
The 10:30 am session, Future of People Movement and the Transportation System, addressed difficult challenges facing the transportation system, but also excitement from strong, positive movement toward sustainability. Sam Arons, Lyft’s Director of Sustainability exemplified this positive trend in discussing Lyft’s commitment to 100% electrification by 2030. Notably, aside from huge air quality and climate benefits, Lyft expects their drivers to save $10 billion by 2030 because EVs are so much less expensive to operate. Aslyne Rodriguez stressed how COTA is “putting people first” during the pandemic. Their protocols, suspended fares, rear entry, mask requirement, and limits to the number of people are protecting health and ensuring that they maintain mobility access -- COTA is choosing to reinvent, not rebuild, with programs like their bus on demand service. Dominic Mathew, a planner with Mobility Innovations in Cleveland, discussed his organization’s work to break the devasting cycle of “no car no job – no job no car.” Chris Atkinson, Director of Smart Mobility at The Ohio State University, defined Smart Mobility as transportation with a conscience that considers environmental, social, economic, and health aspects. Pete Metz, Manager of Transportation Initiatives for Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, stressed the critical role of transportation for business. He counts himself as an advocate of a “fix it first” approach to road infrastructure. This allows us to invest where it counts in shared mobility, and other practical, non-vehicle solutions for getting people to and from jobs.
At 1 pm, Levels of Autonomy in Passenger Movement and Personal Vehicles clarified levels of autonomy and framed the enormous challenges, opportunities and R&D efforts to advance technologies. As moderator, Dr. Giorgio Rizzoni, Director of OSU Center for Automotive Research, again displayed his considerable skill in distilling highly technical information – succinctly framing out the five levels of autonomy by focusing on where we’ve come so far and where we’re going. Diane Newton, Associate VP at HNTB, gave a detailed account of recent trials involving autonomous vehicle (AV) demonstrations in downtown Columbus and the Linden neighborhood. Alex Lybarger, Research Team Leader & Senior R&D Engineer of Advanced Mobility at Transportation Research Center, provided an informed insider perspective on current AV research, emphasizing the tremendous level of data and engineering required to advance fully to level 3, then level 4 AVs. TRC is a partner on many federally funded AV projects. Finally, Ed Niedermeyer, Communications Director at Partners for AV Education, emphasized how important it is for consumers to gain firsthand knowledge of the technology in order to build trust. He stressed “lives are at stake” in understanding capabilities of AVs at various levels.
Finally, Fleet Experiences and Choices in Medium to Heavy-Duty EVs painted a bright future for electric vehicles while emphasizing the importance of close collaboration involving utilities, fleets, OEMs and other stakeholders. Dawn Fenton, Vice President of Government Relations & Public Affairs at Volvo Group North America, focused on their Volvo Lights project. So far, the project has illustrated the critical importance of collaboration between fleets and utilities and partnerships between fleets and OEMs. David Cook with OSU CAR focused on the work of CAR and federal programs that have advanced zero emission transit bus deployments. Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, Director of Transportation Efficiency at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, emphasized the benefits of EV school buses, but also the needs in terms of training, technical assistance, infrastructure development and subsidies in the near term.
In case you missed any of these sessions, recordings will be available on the Whova app for all registered attendees. Registration is free at www.MidwestGreenTransportation.com. Check back within 24 hours. Finally, follow us and comment at #MWGT2020.