Letter from the Executive Director | January 2022

January 7, 2022

By: Jeff Allen

Welcome to 2022!

When I joined Forth as its first and only employee in December 2011, there were barely 10 electric vehicle models available for purchase in the US. Fewer than 20,000 sold nationwide that year. Norway was a global leader with electric cars contributing to 1.6% of new car sales. 

A lot has changed for this industry and at Forth over the past decade. This past year was the most transformative year yet, but I strongly suspect that 2022 may steal the show. Let’s recap a few highlights from 2021:

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents the largest federal investment in transportation electrification ever made, with over $30 billion in potential funding for school buses, electric micromobility and charging infrastructure. The Biden administration is also refocusing existing government programs to advance electrification.

For years, policymakers and automakers focused solely on incremental increases in car sales. But, in 2021 the focus changed to 100% zero emission sales.  At COP-26 in Scotland, we saw six automakers and some 30 countries in leading markets commit to this goal by 2035. 

Setting goals is easier than meeting them, but we are witnessing an incredible increase in investment by automakers. Our friends at the Atlas EV Hub tracked $108 billion in new US investment in 2021.

The F-150 is the most popular vehicle in America and Ford’s announcement of the electric F-150 Lightning sparked a surge in pre-orders. Rivian, GM, Tesla and others are hot on their heels. We are indeed beginning to see a proliferation of models and options.

Long haul electric trucks hit the road in 2021. Daimler’s electric trucks alone have already logged over a million real-world miles. States are rapidly adopting the Advanced Clean Truck Rule and increasing regulatory pressure to increase electric truck sales. Incentives, funding, and consumer demand from shipping companies are rallying to align with these requirements. 

Since the murder of George Floyd in 2020, we’ve seen a long-overdue focus on racial equity in the United States. At Forth, we've internalized equity in transportation electrification and translated it into a strategy and action plan with the launch of the TEEM Community of Practice, a collaboration between Forth and The Greenlining Institute.

So how could 2022 beat that record? Here are a few of the things we can look forward to: 

Not only will we see a rise in the launch of new electric cars in 2022 but also the rapid electrification of vehicles of all sizes, including electric trucks, school buses, tractors, construction equipment and more. We expect 2022 to be a landmark year for micromobility tech and we are especially excited to see electric scooters and e-bikes changing this landscape. 

Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will begin flowing to states and communities in 2022. The money will jump-start EV charging across the country, especially in areas with little access to charging. The biggest long-term impact, however, will be the cultural shift. In many cities, regions, and states this will mark the first time transportation agencies have seriously engaged on these issues. Once agency project managers, engineers, planners, and consultants grow more comfortable with charging and accept electrification as a core piece of their mission, we will see this work scale rapidly.

The “Build Back Better” act remains in negotiation and contains a number of very important provisions to help drive transportation electrification, including improvements to the national EV tax credit. Even if it fails to move forward I am confident that we will continue to see exponential increases in funding for transportation electrification work from other federal programs, states, electric utilities, industry and private philanthropy.

Forth is applying the lessons learned from pilot projects over the years to scale our projects. With $9M in funding from USDOE, Forth and our partners will begin building two national campaigns – one for workplace charging and the other for affordable housing providers to offer affordable shared electric vehicles to their residents. We expect more such announcements in 2022. 

Since its inception, Forth has served as a connector for the transportation ecosystem of stakeholders and communities. During the pandemic, we’ve adapted to doing it virtually but there is no substitute for face-to-face networking. Therefore, we are incredibly excited about the return of the Forth Roadmap Conference as an in-person event, June 29 to June 30, 2022. 

When we began a decade ago, the transportation electrification world was relatively small. As it’s grown, it has given us a chance to refine our focus here at Forth and clarify our vision for the next decade. As a result, we recently wrapped up a major update to our strategic plan. We’ll be sharing details of that shortly, so until then, watch this space – it’s constantly moving Forth!  

This blog post is part of a quarterly series of letters written by the Executive Director, Senior Leadership and our Executive Committee. These blogs cover the state of the organization, industry, and current events relevant to smart transportation.

Letter from the Executive Director | January 2022
Welcome to 2022! When I joined Forth as its first and only employee in December 2011, there were barely 10 electric vehicle models available for purchase in the US. Fewer than 20,000 sold nationwid...