By Tricia Martínez, Managing Director of the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator

The future of the mobility industry is 100% electric.

Imagine a future where electrification of everything – from cars to planes – makes the world around you cleaner, safer and more productive. With intelligent modes of public transportation, you can get to work faster and easier. With an electric vehicle (EV), you no longer need to fill up your tank or be at the whim of ever-rising gas prices. With electric planes, you can travel the world without feeling as concerned about your carbon footprint.

Electrification is the future of the transportation industry. It’s no longer a dream or far-away possibility. Yet, we must come together as an ecosystem quickly to make it a reality. 

Coming together as an ecosystem

According to the International Energy Agency, sales of EVs doubled in 2021 from the previous year. There are now nearly 20 million passenger EVs on the road, with 1.3 million commercial EVs, such as buses and delivery vans, and 280 million other forms of electric transportation like scooters and motorcycles.

Though sales continue to rise, far more needs to be done to ensure we hit long-term mobility targets. We need more investment in forward-thinking mobility technology. We need aggressive action from policymakers. Simply, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to building an all-electric future.

Ecosystem gaps that impede transportation electrification

Three major issues the industry needs to come together to address include battery costs, power constraints on the grid and charging infrastructure.

First, it’s no secret that EVs cost more than conventional cars. But these cost challenges are primarily linked to batteries. We need to increase access to the raw material supply for these batteries. We also need a robust battery recycling system to create a truly circular battery industry.

With electrification, concerns about constraints on the power grid system always surface. This challenge is one I have become more familiar with through my work with Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator and our partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

It’s true, high EV uptake will require more capacity from the grid. But providers like TVA are working hard to ensure our current system is updated and ready for what comes ahead – but we still need more of us coming together to help in this process.

Expanding our EV charging infrastructure is a true chicken and egg problem: We want more EVs on the road to install more charging stations, but we can’t get more EV adoption without a robust charging infrastructure.

This challenge requires unique private and public sector collaboration. We might want everyone to buy an EV, but first, we must rethink and redesign our communities to make it easier for a mass group of consumers to buy this technology.

So what’s next?

Our future is 100% electric. It will take a lot of work, collaboration and planning to make this transition, but the electrification of the mobility industry is happening. We just need to make sure we do it right … and quickly. 

We’re running out of time to make a lasting difference in the environment around us – the urgency is real and we must come together to act. Both private and public sectors are pushing to reach carbon emission targets over the next few years, and they view electrification as one part of the equation in making that happen. Investors are taking note and pouring billions of dollars into emerging and promising technologies. 

But from the batteries themselves to security systems that keep us safe from hackers on the road, there are so many parts of the electrification puzzle we still need to address. It’s time for startups, private industry and government entities to work together more strategically to eliminate roadblocks and usher in an EV future. 

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