NASEO Annual Meeting Features General Motors, Ford, Detroit Public Schools Pushing EV Market Boundaries

The second day of NASEO’s Annual Meeting in Detroit focused on electric vehicles and breaking into new markets in the U.S., with emphasis on challenges to EV adoption.

Britta Gross, Director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy at General Motors, says that GM’s goals are “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” and that “the only way to get there is through electric, shared, autonomous vehicles.”  She says that big factors holding GM back from widespread production in the near term are the costliness of making EV batteries, and the lack of direct current (DC) fast charging infrastructure. GM is planning to release 20 new EV models by 2023.

Additionally, Gross says that there is a big information gap regarding the public’s education surrounding EVs.  To bridge the gap, GM is trying to raise awareness of EVs by getting more people to experience them, so that they go home and tell their friends and family that EVs are “cool cars.”  Mark Kaufman, the Global Director for EV Marketing and Distribution at Ford, agrees. “Once people start driving EVs, all the uncertainty and fears around charging and such will go away,” Kaufman says.  Gross follows up: “Acting as an EV ambassador is critical to EV adoption.”

Howard “Mac” Dashney, Senior Advisor at the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, stressed a need for EV implementation at the level where youth would be exposed to the new technology. “People predict 20-30 years for EV adoption, but I promise you, I can cut that prediction in half if you give me EV cars for drivers ed.”  He says that students in public schools are likely to adopt EVs before their parents, so there needs to be a youth-up approach in how car companies are targeting their audiences. This will also play into how cities are thinking about installing future EV infrastructure.