2019 Innovation Expo Spotlight: Technologies for a Cleaner Environment
With transportation accounting for almost one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, it made sense that vehicle electrification was a trending topic in panel conversations and on the expo floor at our annual Innovation Expo this October in Washington, D.C.
The Innovation Expo showcases emerging technologies and gives employees an opportunity to display their ideas for products, services and processes that improve internal operations or enhance customer experience – and in some cases, do both. This year’s theme revolved around “A Cleaner and Brighter Future” and focused on innovations and ideas that aim to reduce GHG emissions, such as transportation electrification.
Aside from an eye-opening panel session on electrification of transportation with leaders from companies such as Proterra and Lyft, Exelon employees displayed disruptive innovations in transportation.
One recently-commercialized innovation on display was STEER, a monthly vehicle subscription service that specializes in electric vehicles (EVs). STEER is the brainchild of Exelon employees CEO Sonya Harbaugh and COO Erica Tsypin and was launched out of Exelorate Growth, a corporate incubator that focuses on how to launch new business ventures. In May 2019, the team began offering the service to consumers in the greater D.C. metropolitan area.
We interviewed Sonya about the female- and employee-led startup venture that aims to expand accessibility to EVs. She talked about the culture of innovation at Exelon, which trickles down to operating companies such as Constellation, and what STEER aims to achieve:
Tell us more about the culture of innovation at Exelon and its operating companies.
The message of sustainability that we often promote to businesses is also something that we live internally. Exelorate Growth is a vehicle for employees to come up with ideas and innovations that have the potential to make clean energy, for example, a reality. Our team leveraged Exelorate Growth to launch STEER.
In fact, several employees have been a part of the STEER project over the last two years in an effort to drive electrification and the future of mobility. In addition to assisting in the commercialization of STEER, some of our employees are also members of the service, showing their dedication to cleaner air.
What problems does STEER aim to solve?
Our problem statements were: Why don’t more people drive electric cars, and how can we de-risk EV ownership? Some common deterrents to EV purchases include:
1) Range anxiety
Members can select an EV of choice via an app and then have the vehicle delivered to their home or office. EV selections can be swapped out as much as a member would like to fit needs, such as commuting, transporting the family, or going on long road trips. STEER offers electric, plug-in hybrids and regular gas hybrids so members are able to meet any long-distance needs, eliminating range anxiety.
2) High upfront costs
EVs have high-upfront costs. STEER plans are monthly, fixed and easy to budget, and include everything you need without a big down payment. The fixed price includes insurance, maintenance, repairs and home delivery of the cars by the app concierge team.
3) Rapidly changing technology
Rapid changes in EVs coupled with fear of missing out on the release of the latest and greatest technology often lead to consumers waiting for years before pulling the trigger on an EV purchase. STEER solves that by giving members access to the latest EV technology at their fingertips.
How has STEER positively impacted the adoption of EVs so far?
Seventy percent of our members are new to EVs, which means we are truly driving adoption to a new group of EV drivers, which is very exciting. In addition, as of mid-September, our members have offset approximately 40 metric tons of GHGs.
In addition to STEER, Constellation continues to invest in innovations that move us to a carbon-free energy system through Constellation Technology Ventures (CTV), Exelon’s venture investing organization. CTV has invested in the world’s largest and most open EV charging network, Chargepoint, and in XL Fleet Electrification, a company that manufactures hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric trucks, vans and buses. Commercial and industrial businesses looking for EVs and charging stations for commercial purposes should visit www.constellation/com/CTV.