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EVs in America: 4 key learnings from REVOLUTION Connected NYC

February 5, 2020 | Sam Bourne

In 2019, REVOLUTION Connected came to New York with the goal of addressing the unique state of the EV market in North America. Hundreds of attendees from across the continent gathered to hear from thought leaders and industry experts on the ways that eMobility is evolving, and what we can do to help foster growth in this sector.

During the event, we learned about new advancements in the EV market, the ways that different organizations are embracing eMobility, and the latest technology can be used to facilitate renewable energy as a whole. In sum, the systemic changes that are needed in order to create a suitable environment for rapid EV growth are huge. Here are four key takeaways to get you up to speed:

1. We'll waste over 9 billion kWh of renewable energy in 2030

Gregor Hintler, head of The Mobility House North America, knows a thing or two when it comes to energy storage solutions. He shared the startling projection that if we don't look into ways to store excess renewable energy fast, California alone will waste 9 billion kWh of renewable energy in 2030 as production outpaces utilization.

REVOLUTION The Mobility House

It's a pretty sobering thought—all that clean energy going to waste just because we can’t use it right away. But what if we could store it somewhere for later? If only there were thousands of big batteries connected to the grid that we could dump this extra energy into…

Some sort of big batteries on wheels…

Yes. EVs come to the rescue once again. Organizations like The Mobility House are hard at work implementing zero, first, and second-life batteries as a key part of their sustainable energy ecosystems. By connecting their renewable energy generators (e.g. windmills and solar panels) to a series of batteries, they're able to deal with the unpredictable nature of renewables. This allows for flexibility, both when the grid is generating more energy than can be used, and when it's not generating enough.

And just in case you thought this is some far off pipe dream, check out this video of what The Mobility House has done with the entire island of Porto Santo.

2. Price parity for EVs by 2023

Right now, one of the primary barriers to driving electric is the sheer cost. Sure, the total operational cost of an EV over its lifetime is lower than a gas car, even now, but the upfront costs often pose a strong deterrent to potential new EV drivers.  

Luckily, that's already changing fast. According to BloombergNEF, the average EV will achieve price parity with its gas car counterpart within the next three years. What’s more, the decrease in EV prices isn’t going to stop at parity—EVs will soon be the more affordable option across the board.

The reason for this decrease in price is the drop in battery costs. At 45 percent of the manufacturing cost for a new EV, when battery prices get chopped in half, the price of the EV itself will come down considerably. And in the last eight years, we've seen battery prices dip from $707/kWh in 2012 to $176 in 2018. Fortunately, this price decrease isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

3. The electric workplace works

It’s the “Field of Dreams” mentality come to life—if you build it, they will come. Now, with a few years of eMobility history under our belt, we actually have hard proof that this model works! Workplaces that install charging infrastructure end up enabling their employees and tenants to drive electric. Take it from Bishop Ranch.

Bishop Ranch REVOLUTION

This corporate campus supports over 30,000 employees, with over 23,000 using a car to commute to work, and 21,000 driving only themselves. As a location that highly values sustainability in all facets of its operations, Bishop Ranch decided to invest in the implementation of resources for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) with the hopes of converting many of their automotive commuters to more sustainable driving options. And while this program has only been active for the past few years, they're already seeing results.

To date, there are over 1,150 employees at Bishop ranch who drive battery electric or plug in hybrid vehicles (BEV/PHEV)—12X higher than the national average.  And one of the major reasons for this is access to charging stations. Currently, they have over 336 stations across their campus, and are planning to install many more in the not-too-distant future.

Bishop Ranch is also doing some very neat pilot-testing stuff with autonomous buses and other far-out sustainability programs. Learn more about them here.

4. NYC mass transit is going electric—fast

While America may have withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, that has not stopped many state and local governments from continuing to adhere to the goal. New York City is one of those places, with representatives reporting monthly to the UN on their progress towards reducing carbon emissions.  As a result, many NYC institutions are now using electric transportation as a means of achieving their climate goals. 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has electrified half of their entire airport bus fleet and expects to have the other half completed by 2021. The Department of Transportation has already integrated 2200 BEV/PHEV into their city fleet (with more to come) and installed 800 Level 2 charging stations across the city. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has over 100 years of expertise in electric mass transit (namely, the subway), but they're also working to transition their bus fleet to electric vehicles as well, with 10 new electric buses on the street and another 500 on order. 

Granted, given the size of New York City, these numbers are still modest in the grand scheme of things. But when you factor in the traditionally slow crawl of governments in implementing change, this change is actually happening very quickly.

Join the REVOLUTION in Amsterdam on March 31, 2020

Looking for more key insights from major players in the eMobility industry? Don't miss the next edition of REVOLUTION in Amsterdam on March 31, 2020—Europe’s annual sustainability conference working to accelerate the transition toward a zero-emission future.

Be sure to secure your early-bird tickets now before prices rise on February 13!

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