Q&A with Jose Castañeda

Advisory Board Member, Business Development

Jose Castañeda, Advisory Board Member, Business Development at Evolectric, has a unique and personal experience in the trucking industry. Jose shares his vision of the challenges and opportunities facing the EV sector. From his beginnings in a family of truckers to his involvement in an EV startup, his perspective provides valuable insights into the present and future of this sustainable technology.

Tell me about yourself, your journey, and how did you succeed in the EV industry.

I grew up in a trucking family. My dad was a truck driver for over 40 years and as a kid, I spent many Summers on the road with him unloading trucks, keeping his log books, mapping out routes, and generally keeping him awake. Needless to say I have a strong appreciation for the trucking industry. After working for a diesel engine company and seeing their pivot towards alternative fuels, I knew that I wanted to be on the “right” side of a cleaner environment which ultimately led me to joining an EV startup.

As someone deeply involved in both established companies and startups within the EV space, what unique challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry in the coming years?

Short term, we are seeing some pullback on EV interest and this may linger while the political and economic dust settles. Now more than ever it will be critical for companies and technologies to survive on their own merits & through collaboration. Long term, it is clear that EV will be the predominant (but not the only) technology for commercial transportation. The opportunities therefore will be around accelerators, enablers, and complimenters, i.e. infrastructure, data, financial services, truck/fleet as a service. 

With your expertise in business development and strategic partnerships, what strategies do you believe are essential for EV companies to stay competitive and thrive in an increasingly crowded market?

For an EV company, I think it starts with an innovative solution that is built on a sound business model. We can’t think of it as a “tech” company that is going to take off, you have to be financially viable as a company and your product has to make sense to the fleet owner. At a more macro-level, I think partnerships, joint ventures, and collaborations between startups and incumbents will be essential. 

As an advisor to Lane Venture Capital and supporter of multiple EV startups: 

How do you plan to leverage your network and insights to drive Evolectric’s growth?

What I love about this space is that we are all talking to the same people and in many cases with the same objectives…but usually not in a zero sum game. There absolutely is room for everyone at the table and more collaboration will foster lower cost and faster paths to market. I hope to utilize my network and experience to facilitate and accelerate these introductions. 

What emerging technologies or innovations do you find most promising for the future of sustainable mobility?

I think autonomy has still yet to find place in the market but it will get there. We saw some early starts buoyed up by super favorable market conditions but the opportunity or problem remains unsolved. Additionally, I think we will continue to see improvements and cost reductions in battery chemistry and technology. 

Can you share your insights on the scalability of retrofit solutions within the EV industry, and what strategies do you believe are crucial for widespread adoption of such solutions?

We all know that EV’s require less parts and less maintenance and in the future you will see excess capacity within the dealer network and repair shops. What a great opportunity for them to knowledge up on EV’s and become certified for retrofits! This will require some standardization on the product side (think crate engines) but the opportunity for 2nd and 3rd life vehicles is massive. They will replace mid-life overhauls with EV conversions for years to come. 

What excites you most about joining Evolectric’s Advisory Board, and what do you hope to achieve in your role?

I love seeing people who are passionate about what they do and this is evident within the Evolectric team. I’ve learned a lot not only from my direct experience working with startups but from customers and other stakeholders and I’m excited to share this knowledge with the team so they can put more EV trucks on the road!

What hobbies or interests do you enjoy that contribute to your well-rounded perspective on life and business?

I spend most of my free-time with my family, they help to remind me that wins and losses (at work or with the Dallas Cowboys) aren’t everything. I also enjoy golf and seeing the ocean as often as I can.