Innovative companies are playing a significant role in enabling the growth of the state’s transportation electrification market and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. As technology for self-driving cars and electric vehicles become more advanced, concerns on infrastructure challenges abound.
Moderated by Phoenix Business Radio Owner & President Karen Nowicki, featured guests from Nikola Motor Company and the Arizona Commerce Authority shared their insight and expertise on the impact of modern transportation on communities, how the electric vehicle market is changing the automotive industry, the promise and pitfalls of autonomous driving, and the necessary infrastructure needed to bring it from sci-fi to total reality.
In the Arizona Technology Council’s November 2020 podcast, Andrew Christian, Vice President of Business Development and Defense at Nikola Motor Company and Dominic Papa, Vice President of Smart State Initiatives at the Arizona Commerce Authority, kicked off the conversation by discussing the importance of collaboration and how working together is seen as a critical key to the future of vehicle transportation.
STEVEN G. ZYLSTRA
“By 2030/2035 we’re going to be very close to adoption in my opinion and a lot of that is just going to be regulated,” said Christian. “But we’ve got to make sure we take care of the industry, too. We can’t just impose laws that they can’t meet the demands and the time lines, and do it economically. So, we have to we have to figure all this out together.”
That means sectors that some would seem to be threatened by the move to electric should consider the opportunities. For example, Christian says, workers who now make pistons for an engine manufacturer should be cross-trained into different sectors.
“They’re literally going to have to innovate or they’re going to die,” Christian said.
Another consideration is the impact on utilities, which now benefit the charging of current electric vehicle models with limited ranges. Nikola is gearing up for the production of its semi trucks that will have a 750-kilowatt battery pack in each one. Christian says that’s the equivalent of seven Teslas. What can be done with the energy produced when the truck is out of service? “Give back to the grid when energy demand is very high and pull back when energy is cheaper,” Christian said.
As for the future of the traditional gas station, they also have the chance to adapt. Christian said they can be converted into electric vehicle charging stations in a phased approach as the internal combustion engine is phased out. With California having the most electric vehicles in the country, there already are electric vehicle charging stations close to gas stations throughout the state.
Papa is familiar with the potential of what can happen when people find common ground. One of the main reasons that a smart region was created here, he says, was to bring cities and towns together to think together, act together and innovate together. “We started to look at the infrastructure plan at scale so not every individual municipality was trying to create their own kind of infrastructure plan,” Papa said.
Through advancements in transportation technology, including autonomous vehicles, that are part of smart planning, he sees the economic boosts that can accompany investments in innovation while cities and states wrestle with the costs of public safety in terms of traffic accidents. With so much money being invested in research and development plus Arizona becoming known as a progressive state, “we’re really going to reap the benefits of the economic development,” Papa concluded.
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/techcast to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.
About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.