Innovative companies, agencies and cities are playing a significant role in enabling the growth of Arizona’s transportation electrification market and electric-vehicle charging infrastructure. A distinguished panel of experts from the Arizona Commerce Authority, Nikola Motors Company, Silicon Foundry, Exponent and the City of Peoria, Ariz. discussed the economic development benefits and infrastructure challenges of increased adoption of electric vehicles, as well as how the growth of the electrification market and EV-charging infrastructure can play a role in Arizona’s economic recovery plan for the state.
Without a doubt, the benefits of owning an electric vehicle are certainly enticing. Electric vehicles (EVs) are better for the environment and the local air quality, EV owners see noticeable cost savings on fuel and maintenance, and the added bonus of no emissions-testing requirement and no oil changes. These benefits to both consumers and the local economy are some of the main reasons that state agencies, municipalities and innovative companies are focusing on making EVs more convenient for customers and making Arizona a great place to drive electric.
In his role with the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Smart State Initiative, Dominic Papa focuses the majority of his time looking at governance models around emerging and disruptive technologies and how Arizona can potentially accelerate the adoption and implementation of new technologies at scale for the ultimate purpose of solving pressing, urban and social challenges.
“The quest for carbon zero will really define business in the next decade,” Papa said. “Already, we’re seeing giant corporations taking the lead with big and bold commitments, such as Amazon launching a $2 billion-dollar venture capital fund to invest in clean-energy companies across transportation, energy generation, battery storage, manufacturing, as well as food and agriculture.”
Papa added, “From companies such as Amazon, British Petroleum, Alphabet and more…the confluence of factors are creating a new energy context that will have massive economic development implementations for the use of renewable power. Renewable energy will become increasingly primary in mobility.”
Panelists shared a glimpse of what we can expect to see in the next 10 years from the vehicle electrification market.
The energy sector will be reshaped by widespread digitalization and decentralization. And the use of intermittent renewable energy ramps up investment in previously fringed technology. There will be an increased focus on resilience and risk mitigation that will drive a shift in localized manufacturing and supply chain networks. The automotive supply chains will undergo a radical transformation as EVs break though at scale.
Panelists also discussed where we are today regarding the adoption of electric vehicles.
“The United States is very different from region to region,” Jeffrey Wishart, managing engineer at Exponent. “California is doing well compared to other parts of the country. But as far as the United States in comparison to other countries, Norway has the highest percentage of electric vehicles in the world. The challenge for the United States is getting infrastructure in place to prepare for deployment.”
“Arizona is uniquely positioned to lead the electrified future economy,” Papa added. “The state has advantages across the pillars of this new low-carbon economy and opportunity to really own the domestic electric-vehicle industry and supply chain.”
The group of distinguished experts expressed key points they each would recommend to Gov. Ducey, Arizona Legislators and the Arizona Corporation Commissioners to support electric vehicles and electric vehicle infrastructure in Arizona.
“Greater awareness of use cases is needed,” said Andrew Christian, vice president of Nikola Motors Company. “Charging infrastructure really needs to become more of a critical node. As we move forward under Ducey’s leadership, there needs to be a demonstrated push for people to transition to electric vehicles.”
“We really need to weigh on the executive and legislative branches to focus on tax policy for infrastructure,” said Kevin Burke, public works director for the City of Peoria, Ariz. “We’ve seen this in the solar industry, and there’s no reason we can’t see it happen for the electric-vehicle industry. There will be more demand and motivation for electric vehicles with infrastructure in place.”
Governments can definitely empower citizens to play an active role in the adoption of and transition to electric vehicles, said Liz Keen, partner at Silicon Foundry. “At the other end of the spectrum…beyond the necessary charging infrastructure…there needs to be a focus on the new business models to underscore this transition.”
Moderated by Dominic Papa, Arizona Commerce Authority’s vice president of Smart State Initiative, it was a fantastic discussion and well worth a listen.
Vice President Smart State Initiative, Arizona Commerce Authority
Dominic Papa is the Vice President of Smart State Initiatives at the Arizona Commerce Authority. In his current role, Dominic leverages his expertise in emerging governance models and strategic partnerships to drive a broad portfolio of Smart State projects.
Public Works Director
About the Tech Sector Speaker Series
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