Shifting Gears: Towards a New Way of Thinking About Transportation

For more than fifty years, U.S. transportation planners and engineers have focused their energies and our investments on building a transportation system that moves private cars as quickly and efficiently as possible. This worked to make it easy for many people to get around - up to a point. Increasingly, however, a pileup of factors is making it harder and harder to rationalize the practices, funding mechanisms, and even philosophies that made the 20th century the embodiment of personal freedom via driving a car.

Among the Academies: Fully Charged Trips Ahead

Some envision flying cars, but for Dan Sperling, the future is electric.

“I think there's a global acceptance that electric vehicles are the future,” Sperling said. “It's really just a question of exactly how and how fast.”

For the United States, the conversion is growing, but mainly in California, where the state is an outlier.

“In China now, over a third of new car sales are electric vehicles. In Europe, it's about a quarter,” Sperling said. “In the United States, it's less than 10%.”

California Drives Toward Electric Future

The pressure is on for California to meet its clean-vehicle goals. In less than two years, 35% of vehicles sold must have zero tailpipe emissions. And by 2035, all light-duty vehicles sold must be zero emissions. 

USDOT awards $1.7 million in research funding to UC-Davis for Climate Change and Transportation Research Center

The new center, which will be led by Kari Watkins, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty affiliate at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, will advance research and technologies to support the nation’s clean energy goals, accelerate decarbonization of the transportation sector, strengthen the resilience of the nation’s transportation infrastructure and address environmental inequities created by the transportation system.

Blog: Releasing the Pressure: Cultivating Graphite Value Chains in an Expanding Market

Graphite is carbon in its crystalline form. With its distinctive electrochemical properties, it forms anodes in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), ensuring that they have stable charge and discharge cycles. Globally, as countries rely increasingly on electric power, the demand for LIBs—and therefore graphite—will be driven by both in-vehicle batteries and stationary energy storage. As nations choose where to invest, care must be taken to ensure that negative social and environmental impacts are avoided and that geopolitical concerns are carefully managed.

Blog: Electrifying Transportation and Shifting Travel Patterns can Cut CO2 while Saving the US Trillions of Dollars

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles—combined with a shift in travel modes towards more walking, cycling, and transit use—can help ease the climate crisis, improve quality of life, and save Americans money. A key to shifting travel modes to less automobile use is making biking, walking, and transit safer and more convenient by redirecting infrastructure investments and making urban areas more compact.

Blog: As Countries Set Ambitious Targets for Electric Vehicle Sales, More International Trade and Domestic Investment Is Needed

In an effort to curb emissions, governments in major vehicle markets are proposing and adopting requirements that electric vehicles (EVs) make up a certain percentage of new vehicle sales in coming years. This week the Government of Canada announced EV sales targets of 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035 for light-duty vehicles, similar to the goals the United States announced last year of 50% by 2030 and 67% by 2032.