Photo caption: Dr. Levi Tillemann speaks at 2023 CERAWeek by S&P Global —the world’s preeminent energy conference found 1983.


Levi Tillemann, Ph. D.

Levi Tillemann is a globally recognized expert on clean energy, and is the author of the seminal book on electric vehicles, The Great Race: The Global Quest For The Car Of The Future (Simon and Schuster, 2015).

Levi is fluent in automotive and mobility technology, innovation and international policy. He is currently the Vice President for Policy and International Outreach at Ample, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based company pioneering modular battery swapping in electric vehicles. Previously, he served as an advisor at the U.S. Dept of Energy under President Obama and led the World Economic Forum’s Circular Cars Initiative. A Yalie, Levi has a doctorate from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and speaks Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese.



The Great Race:

The Global Quest for the Car of the Future

The world’s great manufacturing juggernaut—the $2 trillion automotive industry—is in the throes of a revolution. Its future will include cars Henry Ford and Karl Benz could scarcely have imagined. They will drive themselves, won’t consume oil, and will come in radical shapes and sizes. But the path to that future is fraught. The top contenders are two traditional manufacturing giants, the United States and Japan, and a newcomer, China.

Team America has a powerful and little known weapon in its arsenal: a small group of technology buffs and regulators from California. The story of why and how these men and women could shape the future—how you move, how you work, how you live on earth—is an unexpected tale filled with unforgettable characters: a scorned chemistry professor, a South African visionary who went for broke, an ambitious Chinese expat, a quixotic Japanese nuclear engineer, and a string of billion-dollar wagers by governments and corporations.

Tillemann’s account is incisive and riveting. It explains how America bounced back in this global contest and what it will take to command the industrial future.

Available in hardcover, paperback and ebook on Amazon and local bookstores

Get a sneak peek and browse the

Table of Contents via Google Books

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Praise for The Great Race

Below are some reviews of Levi's book:

"The Great Race captures the drama of a global competition for markets and new technology that is changing the auto industry and indeed the world in which we all live. It is a gripping read that takes us inside critical decisions in China and Japan and the United States. Tillemann’s experience as a tech entrepreneur focused on cars, his skill as a linguist (he is fluent in Chinese and Japanese), and his expertise on energy policy enable him to bring unique insights. The result is an epochal saga of leadership, money, power, global competition and innovation; and Tillemann tells it all superbly. Whether your "thing” is the clash of nations or the battle for global markets -- or how fast you can get from zero to 60 -- you’ll like The Great Race a lot. Indeed, you will race through it!"

― Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest and

the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Prize

“To explain the scramble for the next-generation auto—and the roles played in that race by governments, auto makers, venture capitalists, environmentalists and private inventors—comes Levi Tillemann’s “The Great Race”… Mr. Tillemann seems ideally cast to guide us through the big ideas percolating in the world’s far-flung workshops and labs. He is an inventor himself: With his father and brothers, he conceived a gasoline engine, the IRIS, that is smaller and theoretically more efficient than standard designs of the same output, and over the past decade the design has won attaboys from NASA and ConocoPhillips.”

― Wall Street Journal

"Mr Tillemann, an energy expert, writes about the car guys with the grasp of an insider. This seems to have been gained from founding a company which tried to bring a low-emission car engine to market and by the rigour of having led negotiations with Detroit. Fluent in Chinese and Japanese, he is able to take the adventure to the heart of the world’s other automotive powers.”

― Economist

“Free-market and small-government purists will find much to quibble with here, but the author is skilled, and sometimes relentless, at highlighting the ability of official industrial policy to work in the public interest. “Since the time of Henry Ford,” he writes, “no automobile industry in the world had ever become internationally competitive without . . . government intervention.”

― Washington Post

"It is simply the best book out there on not just electric vehicles, but the complicated nexus between innovation, energy security and smart energy policy for the 21st century."

―Robbie Diamond, Founder and CEO, Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE)

“If you like cars, you will love this book. If you care about climate change, you will love this book. And if you want to find out how the United States is retaining its competitive and innovative edge in the world, in a tale that reads like a spy novel, you will love this book!”

―Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America

"No one is better positioned to write this book than Levi Tillemann. This book has much to say about how governments can succeed and also fail. Above all, The Great Race is a Great Read."

― Peter Bergen, CNN's National Security Analyst and author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

"...To Tillemann, a fellow at the left-leaning New America Foundation and a former policy adviser with the Energy Department, principled and tough-minded regulation is largely the answer. Indeed, while “The Great Race” spans the earnest and often contentious efforts of policymakers in China, Japan and the United States to develop — and own — the car of the future, the author’s primary protagonists are institutional."

—from Tom Zeller Jr.'s book review in The Washington Post


Selected Works

Levi Tillemann regularly contributes analysis on clean energy, electric vehicles and automotive policy. His writing has appeared in WIRED, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, to name a few. Below are some of Levi's featured and recent writings.

Click here to read his older articles and other works.

Featured Works

(Editor and Lead Contributor, Levi Tillemann)

(Editor and Lead Contributor, Levi Tillemann)

(Lead Author, Levi Tillemann)

Recent Articles


Media Appearances

Levi Tillemann is frequently invited to speak at conferences, briefings and private meetings and has appeared on various media platforms to provide thoughtful analysis on automotive policy. Check out some of his media highlights below:




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