A Roadmap Like No Other

June 24, 2021

By: Ashley Duplanty

"The focus of this conference has never been more relevant or more timely." - U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg

This year’s Roadmap Conference opened with Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg and EPA Administrator Michael Regan, setting the tone and energy of the 2021 Roadmap Conference. 

The entire smart transportation ecosystem was represented, from community-based organizations and local municipalities to the major automakers and charging firms. Both the virtual platform chat feature and networking sessions were very well utilized by this inquisitive group of stakeholders. With over 800 attendees hailing from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, South America and North America, engagement was very high.

The program covered everything from electrifying rural areas to the community benefits of medium-and heavy-duty vehicles. Commitments from the Biden administration, rapid industry growth, and the critical role of equity in industry advancement were consistent themes in many conversations.

Having an administration so invested in clean transportation is a breath of fresh air (quite literally – the commitments to clean transportation will support better air quality) and we heard from a number of federal agency representatives throughout the program. We learned about collaboration between the US Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Transportation and on the importance of collaboration across sectors to advance the industry. Another session dived into the considerations for installing the 500,000 chargers promised by the Biden administration, emphasizing that one size does not fit all.

“We’ve been talking about transportation electrification for decades now, but it is really now that we’re seeing the momentum--both in terms of technology readiness and the supportive policies and incentives.” - Cristiano Façanha, Global Director, Drive to Zero, CALSTART

Rapid industry growth was a key theme at Roadmap. As more regions, cities, automakers and industry members continue to make commitments to phase out the use and sale of gas-powered cars, it’s a critical time to support and advance this industry. We are seeing more market segments begin to electrify: pickup trucks, airplanes, boats, school buses, as well as increased commitments from major industry players (GM announced it will be expanding EV/AV investment to $35 billion during the conference). However, we need the adoption of 70 million EVs in the next nine years when we’re currently only at 300,000 annually. Fortunately, we’re seeing an alignment across industry sectors that we’ve never had – government (federal, state, local), advocacy groups, and industry all pulling in the same direction. As noted by Karl Simon, Director of the Transportation and Climate Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. EPA, “It can’t be just one group or one organization, it has to be all of us, to get to the goals that we’ve set for ourselves."

Ensuring transportation electrification reaches all communities, particularly those communities often excluded from new technology advancements was an important topic present in many sessions and keynote discussions. There was an emphasis on building and sustaining relationships with communities and partners, what industry development means for the job sector (Cathy Zoi, CEO of EVgo estimated that each fast charger creates one job), and that policy can help ensure smart transportation options are accessible to historically underserved communities.

There has to be intentionality associated with the conversation around jobs. There has to be a willingness to think differently than we have in the past about who we identify for these opportunities. That is a key aspect to the equity component for this equation." - Rose McKinney-James – Board Chair, Energy Foundation

Closing with words from Forth’s Executive Director, Jeff Allen “This is no time to rest on our laurels...We know that our industry has its most intense years of learning and development still in front of it. Don’t assume we have things figured out. Don’t stop, and don’t settle. Keep experimenting and innovating."

The 2022 Forth Roadmap Conference will be held June 29-30, 2022 in Portland Oregon. The Forth team is hugely excited to welcome the industry back to Portland, and continue these important conversations. If you have any questions about next year’s conference, please contact Ashley Duplanty.

A Roadmap Like No Other
"The focus of this conference has never been more relevant or more timely." - U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg This year’s Roadmap Conference opened with ...