ACT Expo 2021: Day Three Turns Up the Tech Heat with the Inaugural Diversity Panel, Shell Fireside Chat & Autonomous Talk

For the third day in a row, attendees left ACT Expo 2021 with a lot to discuss with their teams when they make it home at the end of the week. Starting with a first-of-its-kind panel on diversity and ending with talks on the top tech available, there was more than enough to go around in terms of insightful and innovative knowledge from top industry speakers.

The Diversity in ACT panel kicked off the morning with a discussion on how to change the mindset of the industry, making it more equitable at every level, and for everyone.

“It’s not always just about race and color; a lot of times it’s about culture,” said Terry Travis, managing partner and co-founder of EVNoire’s Mobility Intelligence Consulting Group. “We work on projects in the northeast, and the Latin X community in the northeast is very different than the Latin X community in California. There are different nuances there — you can’t just paint with a broad brush.”

Evette Ellis, co-founder and chief workforce officer of Charger Help!, told the audience to go back to their office and ask the tough questions when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

“We have to hold people accountable; we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Ellis, “with being the person that asks the CEO or HR person: ‘What are we doing about this?’”

Next on the agenda was the second fireside chat hosted by GNA CEO Erik Neandross, who interviewed Patrick Carré, vice president of the commercial road transport sector at Shell. The two talked about Shell’s support on creating infrastructure for both battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles.

“From the infrastructure point of view, make no mistake, we are committed to building the infrastructure in these two areas,” said Carré. “Obviously, as we go along, we will see how these two areas, both hydrogen and battery electric, will develop and whether one will emerge dominant over the other or if the two will coexist in parallel. In my view, it’s too early to say at this point in time.”

Hydrogen took center stage following the Shell presentation, with GNA’s CEO heading up a panel of speakers from around the industry. Jillian Evanko, president and CEO of Chart Industries; Vic La Rosa, CEO, president, and co-founder, Total Transportation Services; Chris Rovik, executive program manager of Toyota Motor North America; and Andrew Sarantapoulas, vice president of marketing and product management at Linde, discussed one of the hottest topics in the clean transportation sector in the last two years — hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support them.

With investments being made by component suppliers and OEMs, as well as infrastructure and fuel suppliers, attendees got further insight into the key trends, timelines and strategies for market development, and what the best cases scenarios are for this zero-emission solution.

Technology of a different kind made its way to the panel table later in the afternoon, one that has piqued curiosity and concern for many — autonomous vehicles. The group of speakers focused mainly the heavy haul sector, discussing how the Class 8 freight industry can benefit from this emerging technology. Charlie Jatt, head of commercialization for trucking at Waymo, started the session with an overview of the Google-bred company’s take on autonomous tech. Started with self-driving passenger cars in 2009, the last 12 years have evolved into two different projects for the company — Waymo One, an autonomous ride-hailing service, and Waymo Via, an autonomous trucking and local delivery solution. After seeing success with the passenger side, the team took their lessons learned over to the heavy-duty sector.

“We’ve taken that playbook, in knowing how to develop and deploy a fully driverless, fully autonomous, all-the-way solution, and apply it to the trucking market,” said Jatt.

The session also included Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus; Çetin Meriçli, CEO and co-founder of Locomation; and Chuck Price, chief product officer of TuSimple, with each one giving attendees an outlook on their respective technologies and how they will alter the future of trucking.

OEMs of every shape, size, and sector joined together to give the ACT Expo crowd some time with a number of clean tech vehicles at the annual Ride and Drive. Battery-electric, fuel cell, hybrid, and natural gas vehicles were stationed and ready to ride just outside the Long Beach Convention Center.

Once again entering the Expo Hall, attendees spent hours hopping from booth to booth, getting their fill of the latest clean transportation tech. Once again, companies held press conferences announcing exciting new products and solutions, including: