May/June 2021 | Vol. 26 No.3
In this transportation-themed issue of electroindustry, two of my worlds are colliding: my past life at General Motors and my current life at Schneider Electric. This confluence is a timely one: electrification, infrastructure, and industrial
policy are big agenda topics in D.C.
Most analysts recognize that the age of diesel- and gasoline-powered transportation is coming to an end. Three U.S. states, including California, have announced future bans on sales of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with more states
likely to follow. Major automakers are phasing out internal combustion drivetrains, and companies like my own are transitioning to 100 percent electric fleets. Electric vehicle (EV) sales are expected to overtake ICE vehicles in market share
by 2040.1 The electrification of shipping, rail, and air travel is also taking root.
If electricity is the new oil, so is data. As much as this energy transition is about electrification, it is also about digitalization. Successfully managing large-scale electrified transportation will depend on finding ways to refine data into
insights, whether matters like autonomous vehicle AI or fleet charging management software.
Factoring in all the layers of electrified transportation—infrastructure for trucking, shipping, rail, and passenger vehicles—the industry that ties it all together is electrical manufacturing. Our industry will clearly play a pivotal
role. But are we ready?
Residential and fleet charging raise questions about the industry’s readiness. Charging a single EV draws about the same load as the rest of the home, and charging two EVs would almost certainly require adding new electrical service in most
existing U.S. homes. So, what happens when everyone is driving these vehicles? Our industry does not as yet have firm answers for these critical questions:
- When 9-to-5 commuters plug in their EVs around dinner time, how will we make sure the demand spike does not cause a neighborhood brownout?
- How do we prevent or moderate EV fleets from pulling from the grid during peak energy use?
- If a storm brings down portions of the grid, how do we make sure electrified transportation systems continue to function?
Rome was not built in a day, and our infrastructure will not be either. Solving these questions is not a matter of needing more technological know-how. We know what will be essential: decentralized, decarbonized, and digitalized energy management.
Renewable energy microgrids are already capable of charging entire EV fleets and thereby easing pressure on the grid.
Where we need progress is on collaboration and coordination throughout the transportation ecosystem. After all, if the system itself is changing, we need a systems- based approach that manages the journey of electricity from the grid to plug.
No single company controls this entire system. We need to work together.
That is why I am so excited that this issue focuses on transportation. We will hear about financing ideas for local agencies, the role of 5G, shared Standards for connected vehicle communication, and more. I hope these ideas will help you see
beyond your part of the system—the future of our electrified and connected transportation infrastructure depends on it. ei
Chair, NEMA Board of Governors