Electric Vehicle Grand Challenge Targets Technology and Cost Breakthroughs

Today, President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the launch of EV Everywhere, an electric vehicle Grand Challenge that seeks to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own and drive as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles within a decade.

This is the second in a series of Clean Energy Grand Challenges to be announced by the Department of Energy (DOE). The first in the series, already underway, is the $1/watt SunShot Grand Challenge, which seeks to make solar power directly cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels by 2020. 

Over the next few months, the Department of Energy will announce a series of additional Grand Challenges.  These are designed to identify the most pressing energy technology challenges of our time and bring together America’s best and brightest scientists, engineers, and businesses to work collaboratively to solve them.

EV Everywhere is a DOE-wide initiative that aims to make electric vehicles affordable to the average American family by targeting dramatic technological and cost improvements in batteries, electric motors, power electronics, light-weight structures, and fast charging technology.  To inspire and recruit the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and businesses in the United States to tackle this electric vehicle Grand Challenge, Secretary Chu and the Department of Energy will organize a series of EV Everywhere Grand Challenge workshops across the country over the next three months, with American leaders from industry, government, universities, and our national laboratories.

Grand Challenges – ambitious but achievable goals that capture our imagination and inspire breakthroughs in science and technology – are an important element of the President’s Strategy for American Innovation.  When defined with sufficient specificity to convey what success looks like, yet in terms broad enough to allow the integration of novel solution strategies, grand challenges can spur significant developments in a wide range of domains such as health, energy, sustainability, education, or economic opportunity

As President Kennedy said in his June 10, 1963 commencement address at American University, “By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it.”  The identification and pursuit of Grand Challenges have been shown to:

  • Catalyze innovations that foster economic growth and job creation
  • Spur the formation of multidisciplinary teams of researchers
  • Encourage multi-sector collaborations
  • Bring new expertise to bear on important problems
  • Strengthen the “social contract” between science and society
  • Inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to work on hard problems

The Department of Energy Clean Energy Grand Challenges have set out bold targets for industry, entrepreneurs, universities, philanthropists, and students. American consumers and businesses will benefit as a result.

Cristin Dorgelo is Assistant Director for Grand Challenges in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

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