Reflections on the International Electric Vehicle Symposium

October 19, 2018

By: Forth


The 31st International Electric Vehicles Symposium & Exhibition (EVS) was held in Kobe, Japan recently. EVS is typically the largest electric vehicle conference in the world, moving between continents; some 10,000 people attended in Stuttgart in 2017. Forth has attended every EVS since 2012 and will be co-hosting the event in Portland in 2020 with the Electric Drive Transportation Association. In Japan, Forth was again out in force.

Our Executive Director, Jeff Allen, was invited to join a high level Policy Roundtable with representatives from 15 other countries and organizations. As the sole US representative, part of his challenge was explaining the difference between state policy, regional collaborations, and federal policy. At a side gathering of international EV advocates and foundations, Jeff also moderated a session on equity with our friend Joel Espino from the Greenlining Institute.

Jeff also held several side meetings with major Japanese organizations and companies including Nissan.

We’d like to thank Forth board member Charlie Allcock, who was born and raised in Kobe, as well as Mr. Jun Mokudai and Mr. Tom DiCorcia of the Japan Representative Office for the State of Oregon. These local experts made introductions, helped us arrange meetings, and even found us the best place for our international karaoke night. (Sorry, no pictures of that are forthcoming…)

Three members of the Forth staff presented papers and posters at the conference. Deputy Director Zach Henkin presented a paper on consumer electric mobility education in the Pacific Northwest. Two of our program managers, Esther Pullido and Catherine Teebay, presented on our community car sharing pilot and electrifying ride share drivers, respectively. Our team accounted for nearly 20% of the U.S. speakers!

 For the fifth year in a row, we co-exhibited with some of our member companies. This year we were joined by Mentor, A Siemens Business and FreeWire Technologies.

Key takeaways from the conference included:

Policy and the market are going international. As we met, the European Union was considering tougher fuel efficiency regulations, since adopted. More countries are committing to electrification every day – including many developing countries. The number of countries announcing their intention to phase out internal combustion cars entirely continues to grow, as well. It was clear we have much to learn from each other’s experiences. Expect to see more international participants and speakers at our own Roadmap Conference in 2019.

Smart charging is coming fast. Japan has long been a leader in using electric vehicles as a grid resource, particularly in response to natural disasters. We saw many products along these lines, from portable battery ‘generators’ that can be carried in car trunks to full bidirectional chargers. Nissan already has some 7,000 homes in Japan with V2H capability. Mitsubishi even has a network of 43 dealerships with solar, storage, and bidirectional chargers that can serve as community centers in the event of a natural disaster. These products are getting cheaper, smaller, and better, and we believe they will be coming to the US market sooner than most observers have thought.

Standards are still in conflict. The international CharIN organization was present in force, advocating more universal use of the CCS fast charging standard. However, it was clear that the competing CHAdeMO fast charging technology is far from ready to fade away. Shortly before EVS, CHAdeMO announced a major new collaboration with China and CHAdeMO seems to be far more advanced when it comes to bidirectional charging. Expect both standards to be around for a while.

Heavy Duty Coming Fast. The number of heavy duty vehicles in the market continues to grow, as does global interest in electrifying this segment. Costs continue to come down, and we expect to see this market segment continue its rapid expansion. China presented a roadmap on the expected growth of fuel cell heavy-duty vehicles as they replace diesel-engines, predicting that long-range fuel cell heavy duty-vehicles will be more cost efficient than heavy-duty EVs.

We met many potential new members, partners, and Roadmap speakers, and learned a ton about industry trends. We’ll be sharing more at our December monthly events!

Forth is already planning for our participation in the next EVS, to be held in Lyon France in May 2019. The conference’s Call for Papers closes October 31. If you’d like to join us, send us an email!

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Reflections on the International Electric Vehicle Symposium
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The 31st International Electric Vehicles Symposium & Exhibition (EVS) was held in Kobe, Japan recently. EVS is typically the largest electric vehicle conference in the world, moving between contin...