Perspectives on Transportation Fuel Innovation from FedEx CEO and former Walmart CEO

John Podesta in conversation with Walmart Former CEO Lee Scott & FedEx CEO Fred Smith

It’s encouraging that transportation fuels have become a trending topic in presidential debates. Last week, Obama announced the DOE / ARPA-E will fund $14M to support R&D in biofuels from algae and $30M towards a research competition that will investigate efficiently harvesting domestic natural gas for vehicles.

FedEx CEO Fred Smith agrees, “If there will be a breakthrough in aviation fuel, I think it’s likely going to be with micro- or macro-algae.” Smith calls for incentives for capital investment in natural gas and electric vehicles. “In about 5 years, you will have a vehicle with a positive ROI to convert internal combustion engines to electric.”

Smith believes there is a huge opportunity for American manufacturing in transportation – 8 million trucks, 3 million are heavy-duty on the road.

Lee Scott is less bullish on American manufacturing. “It’s not in the cards that we’ll bring men’s underwear back to the US [domestic manufacturing]. However, [in aviation fuels], what we want is perfection…Don’t let government get ahead of where we can go.”

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