The EV industry will continue to evolve as infrastructure rolls out across the country, the selection of charging and EV model options will broaden and the number of environmentally conscious consumers will grow.
Electric Vehicle Trends of 2012 and Into the Future
Wahid Nawabi | AeroVironment
You mentioned that there were more players in the EV space this year than there were before – can you tell us more about this?
This year was an inflection point for electric vehicles (EVs). Nearly a dozen new vehicles hit the streets from practical sedans like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV to luxury and sports models like the Tesla Model S. For the first time ever, an EV was named 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Charging options are also diversifying and becoming more convenient. For example, AeroVironment (AV) introduced the EVSE-RS Plug-In, a moveable charging option that easily plugs into a dedicated 240 V outlet. Consumers can easily take the charger with them when they visit relatives or a vacation home.
How have views about the environment changed for consumers and what does this mean for the EV industry?
Consumers are not only going electric, they’re more aware of how the energy that powers their EV is produced and are mindful about their overall environmental footprint, so we’ll see more people with their own solar panels and more pressure on utilities to make clean energy available on the grid. Transportation systems built on clean energy promote U.S. energy independence and help the environment, and manufacturers have to be conscious of their manufacturing and material footprints when they make a green product. We see that transportation needs are shifting and consumers are looking for alternatives; EVs can provide those alternatives that the growing number of eco-conscious consumers demand.
Tell us what part AeroVironment has played in the trends that you identified this year and what role the company played in the growing interest for EVs.
AeroVironment has been at the forefront of EV innovation for decades. This year in particular, AV partnered with government entities including the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon Department of Energy and the Washington Department of Transportation to introduce the first electric highway in Oregon and Washington. We continue to open new charging sites on Interstate 5 – the vision is for the charging network to eventually stretch from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. In addition, AV introduced new charging options that are responsive to consumer feedback, including the EVSE-RS Plug-In, a more convenient option. We also work with vehicle manufacturers, such as Nissan, BMW, and Mitsubishi, to understand consumer desires, streamline the purchasing process and make electric vehicles an increasingly viable option.
Where do you see the charging standards going and what do you think their effects on the industry will be?
We’ve seen more charging standards this year than had existed worldwide before – SAE introduced their own standard in 2012 and Tesla also announced its own proprietary standard. It’s not unusual to see multiple standards – indeed, it’s a sign of a developing technology industry. AV will always innovate to respond to consumer demand, no matter which charging standard those innovations are compatible with. Further, as an industry, it’s important that we’re very clear and transparent with consumers regarding compatibility.
What do these trends mean for the state of the industry?
The EV industry will continue to evolve as infrastructure rolls out across the country, the selection of charging and EV model options will broaden and the number of environmentally conscious consumers will grow. Consumers are the decision makers and our role is to provide them with the information and the products to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. These trends indicate a growing industry, and I am confident that we will see even more adoption in 2013.
Can you speculate on a timeline for the growth of the Electric Vehicle into the mass market?
A number of both industry and external economic factors will affect the precise timeline on which EVs achieve mass market adoption, but as more models hit the road and more charging options become available to consumers, the EV industry will continue to grow and attract new customers. Consumer adoption will continue to increase as time goes by. EVs are here to stay and will play a major role in the future of personal transportation.
What needs to happen for your timeline to evolve or accelerate?
In order for electric vehicles to achieve mass market adoption, EVs must become both more available and more cost competitive and infrastructure must continue to expand. Public entities can contribute as well by incentivizing electric vehicles and investing in the public charging ecosystem. Public policy also plays a major role in accelerating EV adoption rates.
What is AeroVironment planning for the future EV marketplace?
AeroVironment offers a simple, turnkey solution and a state-of-the art charging infrastructure for consumers, businesses and public entities. We’ll continue to innovate and introduce more charging products to the market that respond to consumer desires, work with the public sector to expand our charging network, and partner with vehicle manufacturers to encourage industry growth and respond to consumer feedback.
Senior Vice President, General Manager, Energy Efficient Systems
Wahid Nawabi joined AeroVironment in 2011 as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Efficient Energy Systems (EES) business segment. Wahid joins AeroVironment after a 20-year career as an executive with advanced technology companies in industries spanning clean technology, industrial/electrical equipment manufacturing, telecom, and energy. During his 16 years at American Power Conversion (APC), the company’s revenue increased from $50 million to more than $2.4 billion and became the world leader in power protection. Wahid started and led the Enterprise/Data Center business at APC, growing revenue to $600 million between 2000 and 2008. He also led C&D Technologies’ Americas business. Wahid earned his undergraduate degree from The University of Maryland at College Park in Electrical Engineering, concentrating in Power.
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