What We Do



The Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) Program at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) is a four-year 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.

Building on over twenty years of consortium-based research at ITS-Davis, the new STEPS+ Program will develop deep and broad understanding of the increasingly complex landscape of alternative vehicles, fuels, and mobility systems in California, the U.S. and internationally. The five STEPS+ research centers are as follows:


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 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).


The STEPS+ annual project portfolio includes projects from all five STEPS+ research centers. The summary list for 2022 can be found below.