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IESES / Archives / David Cartes: Take a peek at transportation's future

David Cartes: Take a peek at transportation's future

David Cartes: Take a peek at transportation's future
David Cartes • My View • April 27, 2010

Are you ready for tank-less mobility? Do you want to go beyond hybrid cars and really step into the future with a battery electric vehicle (BEV)?

Opportunities for electrified transportation in Florida aren't a pipe dream, but they are a challenge.

To help make "smart mobility" a reality, President Obama's administration has invested more than $90 million in Jacksonville's economy. The funding went to A123 Systems Inc., a cutting-edge technology company, for a new manufacturing plant specializing in transportation batteries. A group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology owns the company.

American scientists have a strong expectation that electric vehicles will one day replace internal combustion vehicles. Many good reasons exist for this expectation, including a desire to reduce
carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the depletion of fossil fuels. But many technical challenges still exist that must be overcome — and many disciplines will need to work together to solve the more intractable problems.

These challenges cross a number of disciplines, including the ones that first come to mind: materials science, chemistry, physics and drive-train design. But those aren't all of them. The real challenges, believe it or not, have nothing to do with technology; they have to do with the American people, our behaviors and how we govern ourselves.

Social scientists and legal analysts find that policy and behavioral challenges actually provide some of the toughest hurdles in our race to develop a clean, affordable, low-energy transportation future. A
complex relationship between emissions and transportation energy policy on the one hand, and user behavior and market forces on the other, creates a tension that, on outward appearances, has made for good political comedy and not much else.

Fortunately, the national dialogue on our energy future has begun. And the process for understanding our transportation energy transition away from fossil fuel and toward a renewable energy future with smart mobility has only just begun. As a nation, we are starting to understand the primary legal and policy obstacles that we will face as we pursue new transportation technologies and look to invest in alternative transport modes.

The energy needs of the United States and the state of Florida, the financial condition of the country and state, President Obama's interest in high-speed rail, and the emergence of the electric vehicle market all are converging to make transportation a challenging topic for industry and policymakers alike.

Transportation is an immensely complex, evolving infrastructure with numerous diverse customers. Because of this, many different disciplines are involved in transport-related research — engineering, economics, physics, marketing, psychology, geography and IT specialties, among others.

To discuss the challenges and opportunities that await us as we prepare to make the transition toward smart mobility, Florida State University's Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability (IESES) is bringing together experts from around the globe to share their informed views at Wednesday's "Symposium on Smart Mobility — Part I: Opportunities for Electrified Transportation in Florida."

The role of IESES is to serve as an "honest broker," providing scholarship-derived insight and information while bringing a greater understanding of the issues to complex debates related to energy systems and sustainability. IESES welcomes you to attend.


What: "Symposium on Smart Mobility – Part I:
Opportunities for Electrified Transportation in Florida"
When: 1-6 p.m. Wednesday
Where: FSU Turnbull Conference Center, 555 W.
Pensacola St.
Cost: The symposium is free and open to the public.
On the Web:


David Cartes is director of the Institute for
Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability
( at Florida State University.
Contact him at





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