STEPS is a four-year (2015-2018) multidisciplinary research consortium, part of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. Our guiding principles are:

  • Generate new insights and tools to understand the transitions to a sustainable transportation energy future for California, the US and the world (Research)
  • Disseminate valued knowledge and tools to industry, government, the environmental NGO community, and the general public to enhance societal, investment, and policy decision making, (Outreach)
  • Support the training of the next generation of transportation and energy leaders and experts. (Education)


STEPS includes a wide body of interdisciplinary research projects addressing four research areas:

  • Initiating Transitions: 2015-2030 – What is required for early alternative fuel and vehicle transitions to succeed?
  • The Future of Fuels and the Oil and Gas Industry – How will changing geopolitical landscapes and disruptive technologies in the oil and gas and clean technology industries impact future business models and the competition of fuels?
  • GUSTo:Global Urban Sustainable Transport – How will a rapidly urbanizing world affect demand for transport and energy? How can we transition to sustainable transportation in a rapidly urbanizing world with ever-growing need for mobility?
  • MAVRIC: Modeling Analysis, Verification, Regulatory and International Comparisons – What do improved and cross-compared economic/environmental/transportation/energy models tell us about the future of sustainable transportation?

STEPS research addresses four fuel pathways:

ElectricityHydrogenBiofuels, and Fossil Fuels.

These pathways are analyzed and compared across program areas:

consumer demand and behaviorinfrastructure system analysisenvironmental, energy, and economic cost analysisinnovation and business strategyvehicle technology evaluation, policy analysis  and integrative scenarios.

Through this research we produce transparent, realistic scenarios and transition analyses, which we disseminate to decision-makers through workshops, seminars, working papers, presentations, and publications.  For more information, download the STEPS 2015-2018 Program (Jan2015).


The STEPS research team consists of more than 40 faculty, research leaders, and PhD and Masters graduate students.  This team brings together insights from diverse disciplines, drawing upon research methods from a broad range of academic fields: vehicle engineering and design, systems analysis and operations research, chemical and mechanical engineering, lifecycle cost and emissions analysis, market research, sociology and anthropology, economics and business strategy, and policy analysis.  The program is directed by Joan Ogden, Lew Fulton, Dan Sperling and Paul Gruber .


The program is funded through a consortium of private and governmental organizations , as well as research contracts.  Our sponsors use STEPS research, models, and scenario analyses to make informed decisions.


STEPS builds upon the earlier, successful STEPS program (2007-2010) and NextSTEPS program (2011-2014) at ITS-Davis.  Under STEPS and NextSTEPS, we developed self-consistent and transparent comparisons of the promising alternative energy and vehicle technology pathways.  We addressed the uncertainty that governments and companies face in choosing fuel-vehicle pathways, and we conducted intensive analyses of pathways highlighting the necessity of a comprehensive approach if large reductions in oil use and greenhouse gas emissions are sought.


The major conclusion from STEPS (2007-2010) research is that there is no one silver bullet.  Achieving aggressive targets for sustainable transportation requires a portfolio approach that combines new vehicle and fuel technologies, behavioral change, and policy.  Strategies within this portfolio will vary widely from region to region.

Key results for the STEPS program include: