The Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) Program at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) is a multidisciplinary research consortium that brings together the world’s leading auto and truck OEMs, energy firms, new mobility companies, foundations and government agencies to understand sustainable vehicle and energy solutions. Since 2007 STEPS has carried out a wide body of interdisciplinary research projects analyzing and comparing potential transportation energy pathways across program areas including consumer demand and behavior; infrastructure system analysis; environmental, energy, and economic cost analysis; innovation and business strategy; vehicle technology evaluation; policy analysis; integrative scenarios; and understanding critical transition dynamics for sustainable transportation.

Over the years, STEPS research has been increasingly integrated with that of the three other sponsored research programs at ITS-Davis; PH&EV Center, 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program, and China Center for Energy and Transportation. To ramp up the effectiveness of this integration and improve our sponsors’ access to research results, in 2019 these programs were formally merged into one comprehensive STEPS+ Research Consortium, each becoming STEPS+ Research Centers, along with two others; Energy Futures and Sustainable Freight. The new STEPS+ 2019-2022 Program will seek to develop a deep and broad understanding of the increasingly complex landscape of traditional and alternative vehicles, fuels, and mobility systems in California, the U.S. and internationally.

Below are the five STEPS+ Research Centers and the primary questions they seek to answer.


Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicles Research Center

What is required for developing a sustainable market for electric vehicles?

3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program

How can the emerging technologies of automated, shared and electric vehicles be guided to a better future?

China Center for Energy and Transportation

What policies and business decisions can help speed the commercialization of zero emission vehicles and support environmental goals in the U.S. and China?

Energy Futures & Alternative Fuels Program

What do economic/environmental/ transportation/energy models tell us about the future of sustainable transportation? How do we hit key sustainability targets cost effectively? What policies are needed?

Sustainable Freight Research Program

What technologies, policies and strategies are needed to achieve sustainable trucking, supply chain management and urban freight transportation? What fuel transitions are practical for rail, shipping and Air?


Our guiding principles are:
  • Generate new insights and tools to understand the transitions to a sustainable transportation energy future for California, the US and the world (Research)

  • Disseminate valued knowledge and tools to industry, government, the environmental NGO community, and the general public to enhance societal, investment, and policy decision making (Outreach)

  • Support the training of the next generation of transportation and energy leaders and experts (Education)