Roadmap Conference brought over 800 attendees to Portland – marking a second straight year of 30%+ growth. We also saw participants from every corner of the country, and overseas In the coming weeks, Forth will post all conference presentations, photos, and other materials on the conference website www.roadmapforth.org. Meanwhile, here are a few high-level trends and highlights we noticed this year:
Equity Front and Center
Over the past few years, Forth has been increasingly working to ensure that electric and advanced mobility technologies are more available to traditionally underserved communities. More recently, we have dug deeper, changing our own organization to increase our capacity to do this work and adopting our first formal statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. At Roadmap, Forth released a major report outlining our shared electric vehicle demonstration project with Hacienda Community Development Corporation in Portland and discussed a recent community-based “needs assessment” led by our partners at OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon. We also awarded 18 scholarships to leaders from community-based organizations working to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of my personal conference highlights was a hands-on equity workshop designed and presented by our colleagues at the Greenlining Institute. We saw dramatically increased interest and work on these questions from other partners and presenters at Roadmap this year, and ended the conference with a keynote address on equity issues by Commissioner Janea Scott of the California Energy Commission. We expect equity to increasingly permeate every aspect of Roadmap in the years ahead.
Progress on Policy
Public policy continues to play a key role in advancing electric and advanced mobility, and many of our partners released new policy tools and frameworks at Roadmap. Most notably, our colleagues at NESCAUM released an updated Multi-State ZEV Action Plan for 2018-2021, and held a session outlining its key recommendations. Another major announcement was the new Transportation Electrification Accord, which outlines principles to advance transportation electrification to benefit all stakeholders. The Accord has been signed by automakers, Fortune 500 companies, utilities, consumer advocates and environmental organizations, as well as by Forth. The Electrification Coalition also chose Roadmap to release its first zero emissions vehicle policy scorecard, comparing state-level tactics to promote and accelerate EV adoption in the 10 participating ZEV states. Finally, the Sierra Club and Plug-In America rolled out their new toolkit for state and local governments: AchiEVe: Model State & Local Policies to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption.
From EV to “ACES”
Alert Roadmap attendees will notice that we changed the name from “EV Roadmap” last year, reflecting our increasing focus on autonomous, connected, and shared mobility as well as electrification. That broader scope was on full display this year, with several panels exploring shared and autonomous mobility topics. The broader scope was also reflected among our exhibitors and sponsors, including our Presenting Sponsor, Uber. During Roadmap, Uber announced a major new initiative building on our pilot work with them in Portland over the past year. The new EV Champions Initiative expands this work to seven additional cities over the coming year, providing resources and support while testing different strategies to provide millions of electric trips over the coming year.
Consumers Still in the Dark
Unfortunately, one key theme continues through every Roadmap event: most consumers don’t know about their electric vehicle options and their benefits. Our colleagues at UC Davis presented research showing that over half of consumers there can’t correctly name a single electric car model – a statistic that hasn’t improved over the past five years. We also heard about several exciting new initiatives to overcome these barriers, however, including a pilot project that Forth announced with Chargeway to test their solution to simplify charging for average car buyers, including an EV driver-centric app and auto dealership “beacon” to create a more enjoyable EV sales process and owner experience. Brendan Jones from Electrify America gave the audience a “world premiere” of their first brand-neutral EV commercial and Forth revealed a fun new video encouraging employers to support workplace charging.
Bigger and Better
This year’s conference saw more focus than ever before on heavy duty vehicles. Panel sessions highlighted the growing number of transit agencies that are heading towards 100% electric buses, as well as the increasing promise of electric school buses, and the role of heavy duty hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In our vehicle exhibit area, we were excited to host the newly-announced Daimler eM2 electric truck. We expect to see increasing attention on these heavier-duty vehicles in the coming years.
Looking Ahead to 2019 – and 2020!
Forth would like to thank all of our speakers, attendees and sponsors for making this the best Roadmap yet. We look forward to welcoming everyone back for Roadmap 12 next year - save the date for June 18-19, 2019. Reserve your place today to take advantage of the early-bird registration rate before prices increase! Click here to register.
For those of you who want to plan further ahead, one of our top highlights at Roadmap was the announcement that Portland will host the International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS) in 2020. EVS is the largest electric mobility conference in the world, and attracted some 10,000 people to Stuttgart last year. I was joined onstage by Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Genevieve Cullen, President of the Electric Drive Transportation Association for this special announcement. Forth will be working with EDTA to make this event a success, and looks forward to integrating our Roadmap content into the program. Mark your calendars for June 14-17, 2020 and watch www.EVS33Portland.org for more information.