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Day 1 of inaugural “Tennessee Smart Mobility Expo” features insightful presentations, EV driving opportunities

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by Sara Pruneski, Senior Account Supervisor with Hall Strategies. The Nashville-based firm serves as the administrative arm of several statewide associations including TennSMART, Life Science Tennessee, and BioTN. Today’s post summaries the first day of the “Tennessee Smart Mobility Expo” held late last week in Nashville. The second article will post tomorrow.)

By Sara Pruneski, Senior Account Supervisor, Hall Strategies

More than 275 people gathered in downtown Nashville for the first-ever “Tennessee Smart Mobility Expo” August 4-6. The event, presented by TennSMART, celebrated the state’s status as a giant of automotive manufacturing and served as a catalyst for making Tennessee a leading transportation research hub.

The expo kicked off with an inspiring presentation from Chris Reed (pictured left), Senior Vice President of Research & Development at Nissan Americas. Chris talked about the evolution of innovation for the automaker and their long-term vision, Ambition 2030. Nissan hopes to empower journeys and society through electrification, advanced technology and mobility services and an energy ecosystem—all to create a cleaner, safer, more inclusive world. Chris said they project that 40 percent of their vehicle sales by 2030 will be fully electric. He noted Nissan’s successful path to producing electric vehicles for the last decade and emphasized how they are accelerating the push to electric vehicles (EVs) for a total investment of nearly $18 billion. In addition to EVs, they are also working on battery and advanced technology innovations. Chris firmly stated that Tennessee has been and will continue to be an important part of Nissan’s EV future.

Next up, a session on the current state of mobility featured Drew Starke, Director of Business Development for Blink Charging, and Jake Nelson, Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA. Drew described the landscape for EV charging, particularly as it relates to the recently submitted “Tennessee Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (TEVI) Program.” TEVI is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. He outlined Blink’s different charging options for single-family homes, multi-family units and businesses, as well as the fast charging stations most suitable for TEVI implementation.

Jake, a public health expert, discussed emerging vehicle technologies and their role in public safety. He noted the rise in traffic fatalities and a safe systems approach as an effective way to reverse this disturbing trend. Jake pointed to data from a survey proving the ways new technologies can save lives and added that the majority of drivers generally favor new technologies on their vehicles. However, in the same survey conducted, many respondents demonstrated a lack of awareness of the limitations of these technologies. For example, 30 percent of owners of vehicles with blind spot monitoring systems reported at least sometimes relying on the system to the point of changing lanes without visually checking their blind spot. When it comes to autonomous technologies, most U.S. drivers are nervous of all types of self-driving vehicles on any roads, according to AAA’s Annual Automated Vehicle Survey. Jake provided ways companies can use more transparent language to help communicate the safety and effectiveness of autonomous tech.

Dan Levy, Executive Director of Product, Mobility Solutions, Bridgestone Americas, capped off the first day with a presentation on the ways the company has shifted from a tire manufacturer to a leading mobility solutions provider. He provided an overview of the ways Bridgestone has developed fully integrated solutions that will help create a more accessible and sustainable mobility ecosystem. Dan outlined their new offerings including concierge-style and subscription-based services for individual drivers and end-to-end solutions for more sustainable operations of fleets. He also described their new partnerships with companies like Azuga, a fleet management platform with GPS tracking, video telematics, driver behavior management and accident reduction solutions to keep vehicles, assets and drivers safe, and Einride, a Swedish company that develops electric and self-driving vehicles known as Einride pods focused on class 8 freight transport.

Off the main stage, attendees got behind the wheel of EVs with a Ride + Drive hosted by Drive Electric TN. A VW ID.4, a Ford 1-50 Lightning, and a Nissan ARIYA (pictured right) were available for attendees to take for a spin in the expo’s indoor test track. Attendees were also able to walk around the demo hall and interact with different vehicles outfitted with autonomous technologies by our leading Tennessee research institutions.

Leading sponsors were FedEx, Nissan, and TDOT.

TOMORROW: A summary of Day 2.

 

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