ACT Expo 2021 Starts Off with Record-Setting Attendance, Industry-Wide Sustainability Efforts, Fleet Awards

August 30, 2021

With masks everywhere and safety protocols in place, ACT Expo returned to Long Beach once again to highlight the excitement surrounding clean transportation and clean vehicle technology. Kicking off with workshops, expo hall move-ins, and awards to cover the many layers that make up the clean tech industry, ACT Expo 2021 gave its attendees even more reasons to return to the annual event. 

Starting with standing-room-only attendance in the first session, the Battery Tech Workshop, attendees were given further insight into how electric-drive technologies are continuing to flood the clean transportation industry, offering fleet operators an extensive list of innovative options. The session included players from around the electrification sector, including Ameya Jathar, senior director of engineering of electric vehicles at Meritor; Jigar Shah, head of energy services at Electrify America, speaking on how to prepare for a successful fleet adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), as well as Dr. Mihai Dorobantu, director of technology planning and government affairs at Eaton, and Aravind Kailas, advanced technology policy director of Volvo Group North America, discussing the breakthroughs with ultra-fast EV charging and how it can lead to greater adoption among fleets. 

Moving from the vehicle to the trailer, the TRU Workshop examined some current fleet deployments of zero-emission transport refrigeration units in response to the increased environmental regulations and fleets attempting to meet expanding sustainability goals. Suppliers such as Thermo King and Carrier Transicold discussed their current technology efforts, as well as their plans to increase the availability of zero-emission transport refrigeration.  

This year’s Investor Summit brought together investors, entrepreneurs, and buyers in the clean tech market. With investments in the industry reaching an all-time high and SPAC investments pushing the technology even further, continued investment is expected to grow from both public and private capital. Led by Nate Springer, senior director of market development at GNA, the session included Thomas Healy, founder and CEO of Hyliion; Dan Tram, investment director at Volvo Group Venture Capital; Ryan Cech, head of mergers and acquisitions at XL Fleet; and Gary Horvat, vice president of eMobility at Navistar, and discussed the how innovative finance will continue to propel this growth. 

Capping off their 10-webinar Electric Truck Bootcamp series, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and RMI hosted the Driving Advancements in Electric Trucks via Run on Less – Electric Workshop. Instead of presenting the topic through panel discussions and presentations, NACFE Executive Director Michael Roeth and his team approached the topic with a workshop mentality, asking attendees to join in the discussion from the beginning instead of waiting for a Q&A session. 

“The future’s already here with these electric trucks,” said Roeth, adding that when it comes to the trucking industry, “an industry that gets stuff done, we’re going to need that collaboration with everything we’re doing with electric trucks.” 

The day was capped off with a pair of partner sessions, including the California Hydrogen Business Council workshop, Hydrogen – It Really Does Work Today! and the Electrification Coalition’s Public Fleet Electrification: Policies and Tools to Charge Ahead.

As more fleet operators are evaluating a move to zero-emission vehicles in their fleets, consideration of both vehicle capabilities and fleet requirements are needed to determine the technology best suited for their specific applications. Speakers made the point that fuel cell electric trucks are capable of performing the duties of commercial and industrial fleets, but there is still some development needed to cover the necessary infrastructure to move this technology forward.  

The Electrification Coalition’s interactive workshop focused on best practices and lessons learned from state and municipal fleet electrification, including details on its recently released policy toolkit highlighting ways municipalities can create systemic change in electrifying their fleet and within their community. 

Day one concluded with the annual ACT Expo Fleet Awards, honoring those fleet operators making extraordinary achievements in pursuit of sustainability.