A Conversation with Britta Gross,
director, advanced vehicle commercialization policy
How does GM approach the mainstreaming of electric vehicles?
Since the earliest days of the Volt program, we have been focused on putting in place all the foundational elements needed to ensure the EV market grows and thrives for decades and beyond. At its core, this means driving towards hardy industry standards that will grow with technology, enabling sustained investment in EV charging infrastructure that includes expert utilities, utility regulators and charge station service providers, and partnering with the broadest possible array of national, state and local stakeholders to drive EV awareness programs and supportive policies for consumers. We have built a strong reputation with all of the above, as well as with our industry peers, and these relationships are allowing us to generate support for legislation, infrastructure programs and awareness campaigns.
What strategies has GM found to be most effective in promoting EV commercialization?
Consumers are looking for supportive policies that make the EV purchasing decision a no-brainer. Vehicle incentives for consumers in states like New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and California can be just the thing needed to tip the balance in favor of purchasing an EV. And HOV-lane access for EVs has proven to be equally effective in regions with high traffic congestion, such as in Los Angeles, Atlanta and on Long Island. In the long run, it will be supportive policies as simple as buying a new home that includes a home charger or finding an employer that provides workplace charging!
Britta Gross, Director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy at GM, spoke to a room of more than 500 sustainability professionals at the Ceres Conference about moving electric vehicles into the mainstream.
What are some current initiatives that GM is involved with?
We know it’s critical to increase consumer-awareness of EVs. Consumers still don’t broadly understand the cost-savings potential of driving on electricity, or the convenience of waking up every morning to a full tank of “fuel”, or the sheer joy of driving an EV. To that end, we’re leveraging the Bolt EV in our expanding Maven ride-sharing programs in San Francisco and six other cities to increase exposure to EVs—and after just one year, nearly 1 million Maven passengers have taken a ride in a Bolt EV, addressing our goal of “butts-in-seats” as the single best way to grow EV adoption! In addition, we have board steering positions on both the Northeast multi-state “Drive Change. Drive Electric.” EV Awareness Campaign and a similar EV awareness campaign being developed in California. We believe these collaborative outreach efforts among automakers, states and other key stakeholders are important.
What is GM’s vision for EV infrastructure development over the next several years?
Given our focus on long-lasting (i.e. sustainable) EV charging infrastructure solutions, we are deeply engaged with the electric utility industry, utility regulators, the states, EV charging service providers and numerous EV-related state and local infrastructure stakeholder efforts, to pave the way for sustained EV charging infrastructure investments. In the past year, GM has supported over 20 utilities in program filings, testified at more than 10 state/federal legislative and regulatory hearings and reviewed state plans, filing over 50 official comments with states to help shape investments in EV infrastructure. We’ve initiated a national collaborative stakeholder effort to drive available state funding towards EV infrastructure, and funded another collaborative industry effort to educate state utility regulators on the benefits of EVs and the need for utilities to prepare for this “smart” load. Through all these efforts, it is now expected that over the next several years, we will see major EV infrastructure investments in the majority of states, including a combined $260 million or more in state-directed funds, an additional $500 million investment in a national infrastructure program and at least $300 million in utility investments, based in part on precedent-setting approvals by utility regulators in Oregon, Ohio, Massachusetts and other states. Furthermore, we’ve partnered with an EV service provider to help build a market for shared mobility services based on urban DC fast-charging. Consumers want to know there is enough EV charging infrastructure to ensure they can drive anywhere they need to go—and we are seeing the critical building blocks for a scalable and sustainable infrastructure solution coming together.
Education & Awareness
DOE Clean Cities, Electrify America, NESCAUM, Plug In America, Sierra Club, Veloz
Legislation & Incentives
Electric Drive Transportation Association, National Resources Defense Council
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, University of California Davis, Idaho National Laboratory, New York State Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA)
SAE International, Argonne National Laboratory, National Fire Protection Association
Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, Electrify America, Alliance for Transportation Electrification
State Task Forces
Clean Fuels Ohio, Drive Electric, Florida, Forth, Clean Fuels Michigan, Maryland EVIC, Massachusetts ZEV Commission, CalETC