Last week, we had the opportunity to connect with John Jörn Stech, CEO and Founder of Shiftgate Consulting.
Learn more about Shiftgate’s role in the transition towards electrifying our energy grid:
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:
My earliest photos featured me playing with toy cars or sitting on car-like riding toys. It was only natural that one day I would land in the automotive industry, where I spent 28 years working with three major manufacturers – Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Chrysler, and Volvo Cars. Through these huge corporations I had the opportunity to live in Egypt and Russia, and travel extensively on other continents. This long path led me to today’s role, an entrepreneurial startup founder of Shiftgate Consulting, an international automotive consulting company. Shiftgate focuses on management consulting primarily in the EV-related space but also on strategic vehicle product placement in film and TV, and an online automotive knowledge-base launching later this year.
What is a fun fact about you?
When the Covid-19 pandemic temporarily closed my go-to family-owned taqueria and cut off my hot sauce supply, I did the most logical thing: I started a hot sauce company with a partner. Left Lane Pepper Company, an automotive-themed brand, will launch during the autumn of 2021. It will be positioned at the intersection of car enthusiasts and hot sauce lovers. Stay tuned!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
Remember the stories from your grandfather? Walking to school in deep snow, uphill both ways? That story is invariably accompanied by a nostalgic look as we realize that winters aren’t what they used to be. That took on more meaning for me as I lived and worked in Russia a decade ago. I became aware of the permafrost thaw taking place in that country’s arctic region. I explored the topic and began to understand the profound effect that human presence and “normal” human activity have on the planet. The cars I adored for so long were a major part of the problem, especially as developing markets increased their vehicle populations dramatically.
In a little over 100 years, humanity has impacted the planet in a nearly irreversible way. What do we leave for succeeding generations for the next 100 years? What can we do? I decided to become part of the solution and support the efforts towards vehicle electrification.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
The automotive industry has begun to shift its momentum from resisting electrification to embracing it. Where once the automakers focused on plug-in hybrid “compliance cars” they now focus on fully battery electric vehicles, shunning future combustion engine development. I think they get it now. Electrification has spawned many startup companies, a renaissance in automotive entrepreneurship. This has prompted the established automakers to accelerate their own changes in product, distribution models, ownership (think subscription), and partnerships with tech companies. The next decade will bring industry upheaval which will improve consumer choices, higher quality products and services, and a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
No one person can solve all problems but we can each do our part. Unfortunately, I will continue driving my internal combustion engine-equipped car until I have charging infrastructure within a reasonable distance of my home. On a separate note, over the past two years I have dramatically reduced the amount of single-use plastics in my household by opting for subscription-based plastic-free kitchen, bathroom, and cleaning products.
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