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SMUD announces regional initiative to develop a future mobility centre in Sacramento

SMUD’s will help develop new EV technologies

SMUD CEO and general manager Arlen Orchard unveiled a vision for the Sacramento region to lead the way in mobility by developing a model for a future Mobility Centre that will foster innovation in the clean transportation sector and serve as a catalyst for carbon reduction and inclusive economic development.

Building on California’s policy leadership in tackling greenhouse gas emissions, and SMUD’s commitment to electric transportation and innovative mobility solutions, SMUD is funding two feasibility studies to support the Mobility Centre. The Mobility Centre would bring existing regional efforts to secure an electric vehicle prototyping hub and the Autonomous Transportation Open Standards initiative under one umbrella organisation.

The Mobility Centre is envisioned as a public-private partnership of governmental entities, leading universities, electric utilities, technology and automotive companies, and venture capitalists.

Once up and running, the Mobility Centre will support, fund and commercialise new mobility technologies including EVs, autonomous transportation, battery storage, shared mobility solutions, public transit and new business and policy models for adoption on the international stage.

“As the capitol of California, Sacramento is uniquely positioned to leverage cutting edge public policy, electric transportation expertise, university research, and an innovative ecosystem to lead in developing, supporting and testing emerging transportation technologies, and business and policy models, while at the same time improving the environmental, social and economic vitality of communities across our region,” said Orchard. “SMUD is proud to support the Sacramento region in taking a leading role in the future of mobility and this is the first step.”

This announcement puts in motion a feasibility study conducted by German based PEM Aachen, which has extensive expertise in key facets of the mobility sector. Spun off from RWTH Aachen University, PEM currently has a large testing and prototyping facility in Germany and has a strong interest in expanding with a location in the Sacramento area.

Organised by the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, city of Sacramento officials, business leaders and university representatives visited the PEM facilities in 2018 and came away impressed.

In 2017, the city of Sacramento and business leaders helped launch the Autonomous Transportation Open Standards initiative to position Sacramento as a testbed for connected and autonomous vehicles throughout the Sacramento region. The Mobility Centre will build on the ATOS model by providing a full life cycle suite of services from idea all the way to market.

In addition to PEM, EnerTech Capital has been retained to develop a financially sustainable consortium framework with a goal of attracting global investors to the Mobility Centre. With offices in Toronto, Philadelphia, Montreal, Menlo Park and Calgary, EnerTech is a venture capital firm specialising in early to growth stage companies in the energy, transportation and technology space.

While the feasibility studies are funded by SMUD, the concept of a Mobility Centre has garnered the interest of regional leaders such as the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, city of Sacramento, Sacramento County, University of California, Davis, Sacramento State, Valley Vision and VSP, as well as policy makers and venture capitalists.

“This collaborative effort to build a centre of mobility excellence in Sacramento will create economic development, jobs and promote innovative mobility solutions throughout the region,” said president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council Barry Broome. “Expanding mobility will promote a robust workforce and expand opportunities in disadvantaged communities.”

Once the feasibility studies are completed in late March, supporters will begin the process of securing partners and investors in the new Mobility Centre.

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