EV Leaders: Marc Coltelli, Managing Director for the Americas and Global eMobility Leader at EY

A trailblazer in the realm of sustainable innovation, Marc Coltelli drives sustainable change as the Managing Director for the Americas and Global eMobility Leader at EY. With a profound commitment to a connected and sustainable future, Marc spearheads the development and execution of EY’s eMobility business in the Americas. Previously, as EY’s Global Energy Strategy and Operations Leader, he guided global energy clients through complex challenges, focusing on efficiency and growth amid sustainability shifts. With 25+ years in energy and utilities, Marc’s expertise spans large-scale transformations, including leading the UK’s largest electricity distribution network operations center. Marc is not just a leader; he’s a catalyst for sustainable progress.

Do you drive an EV? If so, what do you drive, and why?

From a very young age, I have been super passionate about cars. In fact, the only motivation for getting my first job at 16 years old was to save money to buy my first car when I turned 17. 

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Today, my passion for cars remains, and that has spread to a passion for the future of the space. The transition to electric cars is very real. I currently drive a hybrid SUV that can do more than 75 miles on full electric. We have a second vehicle and plan to trade that for a fully electric car next year. 

Just like in my household, we expect the number of EV models across manufacturers to increase tenfold over the next 18 months and more than 300 new EV models in the US alone in the next five years.

You head up EY’s EV side. What excites you about working in this space?

There are many reasons to be enthusiastic about working in this innovative and rapidly growing field:

Contributing to sustainability
The push for electric vehicles (EVs) is driven primarily by the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Working in eMobility contributes directly to creating a cleaner and more sustainable future. That sense of purpose is incredibly rewarding and motivating.

Being at the forefront of technology
The eMobility sector is synonymous with cutting-edge technology. From advancements in battery technology and power electronics to the integration of artificial intelligence and connectivity in vehicles, you are at the forefront of technological innovation.

Market growth potential
The global shift toward electric vehicles is accelerating and the market is seeing exponential growth. This expansion means there are abundant opportunities for professional development, career progression, and the chance to be a part of pioneering companies that could become the industry leaders of tomorrow.

Impact on urban development
Electric vehicles are a crucial component in the drive toward smart cities. By reducing noise pollution and improving air quality, eMobility can enhance urban living conditions. Participating in the shaping of modern cities is an exhilarating aspect of the job.

Consumer shift and demand
Consumer awareness and demand for environmentally friendly transportation are growing. This shift is pushing the industry to innovate and offer competitive and attractive products, which is exciting for someone who enjoys being part of a consumer-driven transformation.

Entrepreneurial opportunities
The eMobility space is well-suited for entrepreneurship. The industry’s nascency means there is plenty of room for innovation and the chance to start or join ventures that could define the future of transportation.

Network of passionate professionals 
Working in eMobility places you in a community of passionate, like-minded professionals who are all working toward shared goals. The camaraderie and collective enthusiasm in the industry is deeply enriching.

Every aspect — whether innovation, sustainability or market growth — contributes to the exhilarating pace and potential of eMobility.

What lessons are the U.S. learning from the U.K. and mainland Europe on EV charging?

By 2035, in most developed economies EVs will be the only choice for customers who want to purchase or lease a new car. Europe (EU 27 plus the UK and Norway), the US and China are leading the charge. However, customer sentiment is divided.

Some customers take an interest in energy security and sustainability and want to play an active role in the future energy system. They are alert to solutions that cut petrol and gas consumption and deliver economic and environmental value. They are the early adopters who support EVs, boosting global sales to 13% of total vehicle sales.

Other customers are primarily focused on affordability. They want an EV or solar panels to offset the impact of rising inflation and higher energy costs, but they are too expensive. Yet, it is precisely these customers that EVs must reach if adoption is to accelerate and the associated benefits of reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and a cleaner planet are to be realized. These mass-market consumers — the next 60% of drivers yet to be persuaded — need a few ticks in the right boxes before they commit to a purchase. Then, there are the remaining 20%, the reluctant adopters, who switch to EVs because they feel they have no choice.

Sales figures paint a picture of an EV market gaining traction globally. China is already at 27% EV adoption; Europe has seen two consecutive years of robust growth, reaching 17% in 2021 and just over 20% in 2022; and the US is catching up. However, are the conditions right for EVs to take off in the mass market? 

In the US, we have seen many of these motives understood. Accelerated EV adoption must start with setting the ambition and supporting it with mandates or regulation. If that happens, the market can advance with certainty and attract the investment needed to secure a resilient supply chain. Only then can EV costs begin to come down, increasing affordability and availability for all. But the vehicle itself is only part of the story. It must be supported by adequate charging infrastructure, in the places and spaces where people need it. It must be enabled by a smart grid that allows the two-way flow of green energy and supported by digital technologies that make EV ownership simple, flexible and likeable. Get these essentials right, and eMobility becomes the new normal for road transport.

Regulators devise the right frameworks. Automakers deliver new powertrains. And utility companies will play a huge role in pushing this fast-maturing industry past the inflection point and into mass adoption. They must engage proactively with city planners and continue to build out networks that allow renewables, and other forms of distributed assets, to connect to the grid. They must manage new load at the point of charging and pursue innovative technologies that enable the two-way flow of energy across the system.

Therefore, I expect EV numbers will continue to rise in the US, a consequence of market dynamics and technological, regulatory and economic drivers. But, as we speed toward the point of no return, all companies must continue to play their critical role in delivering the EV solution.

What do you see as the fastest growth areas for eMobility in the U.S.?

I have worked in the energy industry for almost 30 years, and I see significant opportunity for utilities across the eMobility landscape as we push toward electrification.

In 2019, US drivers consumed approximately 3.4 billion barrels (142.8 billion gallons) of motor gasoline, which is equivalent to around 4,800 billion kWh of electricity. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, EVs are 2.5 to 6 times more energy-efficient than conventional cars using gasoline. If all vehicles were EVs, it would require approximately 800 to 1,900 billion kWh of electricity to power them. Considering the US used about 4,130 billion kWh of electricity in 2019, this means that if  all cars were electric, the country would have consumed 20%-50% more electricity.

We talk about power grid gaps, which the US faces currently, and the amount of expansion needed to achieve emissions goals. The need for additional electric transmission infrastructure means enhancing grid has become a necessity. Additional investments in this area would bring improved reliability and resilience to nearly all regions across the US. Furthermore, regions characterized by higher electricity costs, such as the Plains, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and California, would particularly benefit from the advantages of cost-effective generation through enhanced transmission capabilities.

There is also a need for new interregional transmission between all regions. In the past, the greatest advantages of adding new interregional transfer capacity have been observed at the interconnection seams. 

These seams primarily exist between the Mountain and Plains regions, as well as between Texas and its neighboring regions (Southwest, Plains and Delta). Significant benefits in interregional transmission are also evident between the Plains region and its two eastern neighbors, namely the Midwest and Delta regions.

Transmission systems need to expand by 60% by 2030 and potentially triple in capacity by 2050 to align with President Biden’s emissions targets. 

However, the necessary expansion is facing obstacles. Disputes over location, construction responsibility, and funding for utility lines are causing significant bottlenecks. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals that the average time for developers to integrate a wind or solar project into the regional power grid has increased to four years, doubling the duration as compared with 2017. 

To address these challenges, the Biden administration has pledged to alleviate congestion and strengthen the grid by investing billions of dollars in transmission lines and other infrastructure improvements. 

However, it may take several years before these upgrades and expansions become fully operational.

EY is headlining the inaugural U.S. EV SUMMIT. How do you see the EV SUMMIT helping to propel eMobility in the States?

We are thrilled that Ernst & Young LLP will be the headline sponsor at the inaugural EV SUMMIT to be held in the US in 2024. 

EY has been a longtime supporter of the EV SUMMIT since its inception. It brings together business leaders and key players working on eMobility, the energy transition, information technology and charging infrastructure to explore, discuss and share experiences on how we advance to full, battery electric, eMobility.

The summit is a high-level business forum based on the dual themes of business engagement and thought leadership from the most senior, influential and informed people across the various sectors who ultimately have a role to play in the ecosystem.

Our role will primarily be the connector across industries and leveraging the summit to drive our collective ambition for a cleaner, cheaper more sustainable energy and transportation system.

Do you think the U.S. is ready to move away from gas and go green in its choice of cars?

Yes, absolutely. In the last three years alone, the acceleration in the US has been significant and a likely indicator for the future.

Since 2021, consumer intent to buy EVs increased from one-third to ~50% in 2023. 

The top motivators for US consumers include EVs’ better performance over ICE vehicles, environmental concerns, high fuel/oil/gas prices and rising fuel taxes for ICE vehicles..

In California, the Advanced Clean Cars II regulations aim to scale down emissions from light-duty vehicles (LDVs) and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) starting with the 2026 model year through 2035. 

Seventeen states have adopted all or part of California’s low-emission and zero-emission vehicle regulations. Further, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin signed a memorandum of understanding to create the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition (REV Midwest). It is committed to accelerating MHDV electrification, regulations standardization, workforce development, consumer awareness, and more.

Also, state-level programs like Washington’s Clean Cars 2030, Colorado EV Plan 2023 and Oregon Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) program will likely accelerate EV adoption.

In the US, average total cost of ownership for EVs is significantly lower than their ICE counterparts in SUVs and pickups.

For SUVs, which account for ~47% of total cars, the EV counterpart is ~14% cheaper to own than ICE models. Similarly in Canada, an electric SUV is ~18% cheaper to own than ICE.

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