Amplifying Clean Transportation Networks with Maryline Daviaud Lewett | Conversations in Cleantech | Season three, Episode four
Maryline Daviaud Lewett is a cleantech industry veteran! An early adopter of cleantech solutions in her personal life, Maryline has always been passionate about educating herself on the innovative solutions created for a better planet tomorrow. After originally pursuing an alternative career path, a move from her native France to the US forced her to reconsider. It was at this moment she decided it was the time to pursue her passion and enrolled on an MBA programme in Sustainability Management.
Fast forward to today, Maryline is Director of Business Development and Transformative Technologies at Black & Veatch. Within this role, she is working across the clean transportation spectrum with partners to solve some of the sector's toughest problems to create a future where all of our transport networks are clean and green.
Read on to hear more about Maryline’s thoughts on how we can accelerate the EV revolution and smash ambitious Net Zero targets. If you’ve not caught the podcast in full yet, download here.
What are the big challenges we need to overcome to accelerate the EV revolution?
I would say one of the big challenges is the choice the end customer has - whether that be private individuals or businesses. This is dependent on us being able to push the price down however, we’re actually seeing price parity between internal combustion engines and electric or hydrogen systems in the North American market. Now that prices are becoming almost equal it allows for an open market and from this, we will see an increase in the choice of models for the end customer.
Another big milestone will be when the fleet market is really able to make the switch. Achieving our net zero goals will only be possible when we can swap fleet systems to completely electric vehicles.
In Europe, there is more standardisation and incentives across different counties to make the switch to electric. Up until recently, in the US it has been left up to individual states to decide upon incentives, now we have started to see the federal Government make it their priority. In California, we have always been very proactive with our transportation policies and clean technology. This approach is showing fantastic results - in Northern California, EV adoption is at 15% and in Los Angeles, adoption is at 10%.
What do the next five years look like for the clean transportation sector?
The willingness to adopt new clean technologies is definitely there. We are seeing exponential growth worldwide - from Europe and North America to Japan and China. I think over the next couple of years we will see massive uptake in the Indian and Latin American markets too. I think people believe it is the right thing to do. They want to make the switch but it has to be at the right price.
I think the biggest concern I have is whether original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to deliver the equipment needed. There are many companies, particularly in the logistics sector, who are ready to make the shift to electric but there are huge waiting lists. It can be between two and five years from placing an order before the equipment needed to make the switch can be acquired or leased.
I think we need to help the manufacturing companies to deliver quicker because the demand is there and the infrastructure companies such as Black & Veatch have the time to build the infrastructure. It takes us between 12 and 24 months to build the infrastructure for a fleet. The bottleneck is the equipment and this is going to continue to be a massive challenge.
What drives you to embrace complex challenges?
I think finding your calling and following your passion is extremely important. For me, my interest has always been in technology and more specifically clean technology. Being able to combine my goals with my passions means I spend my days very content and satisfied.
One of the things I particularly enjoy about living in California is the attitude towards learning here. I love to learn new things and I always try to keep up to date with the latest technology and innovations within the industry.
Around six or seven years ago, when hydrogen started to emerge onto the market, I knew nothing about the technology - I am now fascinated by the advancements it has brought to the transportation sector. The European market is far more advanced than the US however several companies who have been incredibly successful in Europe are now bringing their technology over here.
It is a complementary technology to EVs - EVs are more suited to light to medium-duty transportation whereas hydrogen is suited to medium to heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks. The marine and aviation industries are also looking to use hydrogen technology.
I constantly want to learn new things about the areas I am particularly interested in. Whilst I don’t need to go back to school to do this, I can consistently absorb new information through attending conferences, working closely with our engineering team and speaking to experts and our clients.
One of the reasons I love sales is because every client provides us with a challenge and often the answer is not yet on the market so it forces us to find solutions. We don’t know the answer straight away, we have to figure out a solution and to me, that is particularly interesting.
What have been the stretch moments in your career?
I think my stretch moments have generally been around technology because I don’t come from an engineering background. I have always been comfortable with maths but engineering is totally different. Originally, I never thought that my career would take me into a space where I would be selling a technological solution but here I am and I am so passionate about it.
Knowledge can always be acquired - don’t let not knowing something stop you from trying something new because you can always learn, knowledge is not innate! There are plenty of people I work with who do not have an engineering background and are brilliant at their jobs. We need engineers but we also need people who can translate the technology into business terms. I think there is a fit for everyone within the industry. Never be afraid to try something new because as humans we adapt pretty well to whatever challenge we face!
What would be your words of wisdom for anyone looking to enter the sector?
Simple - follow your passion, follow your calling because it will make your work so much more enjoyable. Nothing is easy but if you are passionate about your work it will make it a lot easier.
Enjoyed this article? Listen to the full podcast here, and connect with Maryline on LinkedIn for more informative EV content.