On Thursday, August 1, the Chicago Connectory welcomed member ILAVA, the Illinois Autonomous Vehicle Association, as they hosted another event as part of their “Connection Series”. The series is hosted monthly in hopes of educating industry, private sector, and constituents on the connected mobility and autonomous vehicle industry across Illinois.
Executive Director of ILAVA, Jerry Quandt, opened the event with a brief welcome, overview of the Illinois Autonomous Vehicle Association, and its involvement with the Chicago Connectory. He highlighted the Chicago Connectory as the hub of IoT and connected mobility in Chicago due to its growing membership of mobility organizations including ILAVA,Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) and City Tech Collaborative.
After the introduction, a panel discussion kicked off which brought together a group of speakers to discuss the infrastructure challenges and needs for EV charging, as well as, identify solutions for deploying EV charging infrastructure in the city of Chicago.
Elizabeth Kocs from UIC Energy Initiative moderated the panel and it included the following panelists:
· Samantha Bingham, City of Chicago
· Jim Thomas, RIVIAN
· Ann Schlenker, Argonne National Lab
· Caroline Quazzon, EZ-EV
· Laura Pritchard, UIC Alumna
The panel addressed some of the specific points on transportation electrification from the report by the Mayor’s Task Force on Mobility. For example, electric vehicle adoption is needed to improve air quality in large cities like Chicago. However, one of the largest issues that EV adoption faces is the transmission, distribution and availability of power for the EV charging infrastructure.
The panel also discussed how infrastructure for EV charging is the key barrier faced for increased EV adoption. New policies and incentives for consumers are great, however, they won’t solve the majority of infrastructure needs. Nowadays, buildings need to be EV ready from the beginning. It’s critical that new construction developments take EV infrastructure into consideration for both commercial and retail vehicles from the beginning of the projects.
Panelists continued to discuss another infrastructure that hinders EV adoption – visibility. Currently, a large amount of EV charging and infrastructure is not visible to that majority of the population. They are often hidden in parking garages or other establishments. This makes it hard for non-EV owners to imagine making that leap to electric since they are unable to see charging places and the potential everywhere. Without seeing it, it’s hard to imagine ownership.
Additionally, they talked about the disconnect in terms of what electric vehicle charging looks like compared to today’s current gas station model. EV charging infrastructure must be placed in locations where consumers will be spending more time due to the longer charging period. The current model of a quick gas fill-up at a gas station doesn’t apply here.
Aside from simply consumer vehicles, the panelists discussed the need for the commercial vehicle industry to go electric. Today, commercial vehicles are one of the largest pollution causes in the world. When asked what the best approach for Illinois to achieve funds for EV infrastructure, the panelists agreed that, aside from involved electric utility companies, the state should put emphasis on the commercial vehicle space. Chicago is a hub of transportation, especially train and trucking. It’s a great opportunity to move toward electric in that field and start reducing pollution in the city.
Thank you to the wonderful panelists and moderators, as well as, ILAVA for hosting another great mobility event.