Since its launch in 1969, the Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition event series has evolved into a comprehensive gathering of the global electric transportation industry. The most recent iteration of the event, called EVS36, was held by the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento, California between June 11, and June 14. However, in keeping a pulse on the global EV ecosystem, the event is held in a different country and focal city each year – with last year’s event (EVS35) held in Oslo, Norway, and next year’s gathering (EVS37) to be held in Seoul, South Korea. For the automotive industry, the EVS series ultimately offers a platform to exhibit the latest technological advancements, research, and strategies to come out of the electric transportation landscape.
This year, the event offered a broad variety of presentations and panels held by industry experts and thought leaders. Along with featuring more than 180 exhibitors from around the world and hosting various networking opportunities. These activities, together, worked to enlighten and inform the public and media on electric transportation technologies while offering new opportunities to demonstrate leadership and gain key insights from industry professionals.
Driving the Transition to E-Mobility
The core theme of EVS36 was ‘Driving the Transition to E-Mobility’. This theme formed the basis of the event’s Plenary Session, a discussion held by a panel of local and domestic government professionals working to support this transition. The presenters included Fiona Ma, California’s State Treasurer; Christopher Coes, the Assistant Secretary for Transport Policy; Paul Lau, the CEO & General Manager of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), and Patty Monahan, a Commissioner at the California Energy Commission.
Aligning with the event’s opportunity for its host city, state, or country to present how and where it is contributing to the development of electric transportation solutions, this discussion spoke to both the individual and collective efforts made by the city of Sacramento, the wider state of California, and the U.S. more broadly in boosting electrification and decarbonization today and tomorrow. Here, Paul Lau highlighted SMUD’s commitment to eliminating all carbon emissions from the city’s energy supply by 2030 and its managed charging pilot with Ford, BMW, and GM. Fiona Ma detailed the progress of California’s electrification targets, including the achievement of its 1.5 million zero-emission vehicle target two years ahead of schedule. Christopher Coes then outlined how $7.5 billion of U.S. government funding spread over the next five years will work to establish a domestic charging network.
PHEVs to BEVs (and vice versa)
A notable session at EVS36 investigated whether plug-in hybrid adopters switch to battery electric vehicles, and if BEV owners make the switch to PHEVs. Conducted by Scott Hardman, a researcher at Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California Davis (ITS-Davis), the presentation assessed consumer attitudes towards BEVs and PHEVs to understand why customers may switch from one powertrain option to the other. This assessment was carried out through a survey that measured the vehicle replacement patterns of more than 4,000 consumers and found that one third of PHEV owners switched to an ICE vehicle, another third switched to a BEV, and the remaining third chose a PHEV again.
Those consumers switching from a PHEV to a BEV largely cited the lower operating expenses BEVs offer over plug-in hybrid models and their own desires to reduce their vehicle emissions. The reasons consumers made the switch from a BEV to a PHEV included the BEV’s range being too short, especially those who adopted a short-range EV, and wanting to spend more time in outdoor and rural areas – where EV charging infrastructure can be more difficult to find. The study also found that BEV owners adopting an ICE vehicle highlighted the inconvenience of today’s vehicle charging infrastructure as a reason for this transition, particularly an absence of Level 2 charging access at home, as well as the short range of some BEVs offered on the market today.
Navigating EV Charging
Also hailing from the University of California Davis was Kenneth Kurani, a researcher at the university’s Electric Vehicle Research Center, whose session understood the ways in which EV drivers navigate the real and virtual worlds of EV charging. To understand contemporary charging behaviors, the university interviewed 18 EV drivers – finding various approaches that ultimately presented a different set of experiences for Tesla drivers and non-Tesla drivers.
At base, this research found that EV owners will typically use the OEM’s mobile app to set a maximum state of charge for the vehicle, usually the limit set by the OEM itself, and their preferred charging start times – though users may override the maximum SoC in anticipation of along trip. EV owners who do not have home charging set up will utilize an app developed by a public e-mobility service provider, rather than the OEM, to find a public charging point and accordingly plan their route to it. While non-Tesla drivers are unlikely to use the OEM’s app if they rely on public charging, their selected charging network may be determined by the incentives offered by the OEM – such as Volkswagen’s partnership with Electrify America that enables a free charging allowance for select users. The research found that all drivers typically assess their charging options ahead of a long trip through a mobile app, using it to manage their route and select the best-suited chargers along it.
Despite their varied approaches and charging behaviors, nearly all of the study’s participants had stories of unreliable charging experiences and identified that the overall experience could be enhanced by improving the design and layout of dedicated parking spots for vehicle charging. At the same time, many EV drivers also said that better information about charging locations would enhance the experience further – including information on the amenities at or near chargers, full information on the charging location itself, and additional information supplied by drivers.
Accelerating the Transition
Across its four days, EVS36 offered a broad variety of discussions, exhibitions, panels, and presentations that provided valuable insights into different areas of the EV ecosystem, its key technologies, and how the industry can drive its future. Not only did these insights account for the host city of Sacramento and the wider state of California, but also the electrification efforts of further regions, including the UK and Canada – maintaining the long-lasting global focus the EVS event series offers to its attendees.
While a portion of these insights have been shared in this article, our dedicated EVS36 Event Report covers the full breadth of knowledge shared at the event. This complimentary research report discusses the most notable highlights from the event’s broad variety of EV-focused conferences and sessions. Our industry experts underline the key takeaways from each of these sessions, understanding their deeper meaning while providing further insight. The report then concludes with a reflection from our experts on the innovations showcased at the event that also maps out the best practices for the OEMs, suppliers, e-MSPs, and start-ups looking to accelerate and expand their electrification efforts.
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