In Michigan, Electric Vehicles Provide the Chassis for Mobility of the Future

Posted by Liesl Eichler Clark on Feb 27, 2018 12:17:00 PM


This is a guest post from AEE’s state partner, the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. To learn more about Michigan EIBC, click here. To learn more about AEE’s nationwide coalition of state and regional partners, click here. 

With the pace of technological innovation accelerating, mobility is changing rapidly. Transportation is becoming more connected, more autonomous, and more shared, particularly in urban environments. Electrification is the enabler of this transformation, facilitating this combination of automation, advanced computing, and sharing in the way we get around. That makes electric vehicles (EVs) more than an alternative to gasoline-propelled cars. It makes them the platform for the next phase of human mobility.

Michigan is aggressively positioning itself to lead in global mobility ecosystem through development and deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles. As the birthplace of the auto industry, Michigan’s automotive leaders are key players in this industry transition over a century later. Michigan-based automotive manufacturers are not only competing with other automakers to lead the global market, but also with technology and innovation players who are completely changing the traditional paradigm of what it means to be a transportation company. These efforts are aided by investments made by battery storage companies to produce new batteries more cheaply.

There is a strong push to align Michigan’s policy and regulatory framework around automated, electric, and shared vehicles. Michigan’s automakers, utilities, advanced energy businesses, state government, and regulators are working together in a number of capacities to bring about this transportation future.

For example, Michigan was one of the first states that allow self-driving vehicles on public roads. The legislature also created the 21-member Council on Future Mobility, charged with producing annual recommendations to allow Michigan to respond in real-time to changes in the advanced transportation landscape.

Michigan’s utilities stand to play a key role in the development of infrastructure to meet the future charging needs of EV customers. Through targeted investments and proper rate design, utilities can support and encourage EV deployment. Under the guidance of the Michigan Public Service Commission, with stakeholder input, Michigan’s utilities are developing EV pilot programs to help build out the state’s charging infrastructure, improve rate design, and increase public awareness of electric vehicles.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (EIBC) recently kicked off a series of stakeholder meetings to assist in the development of these utility pilot programs and examine broader challenges with a diverse group of stakeholders. It is the goal of the Michigan EIBC to provide a space to develop solutions to some of the complex challenges facing EV deployment in Michigan. The group will consider case studies and expert opinions from a wide variety of disciplines to address issues such as customer education, charging at apartment buildings, infrastructure needs for highway fast charging, and electric fleet deployment.

The Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI), a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Michigan EIBC, recently released a report, “Powering the Mobility Revolution: The Case for Integrating Vehicle Electrification & Batteries into Strategies to Promote Autonomous Vehicles.” The report makes a number of recommendations to enable the advancement of automated, electric vehicles in Michigan:

  • Add members with specific expertise in electric vehicles, batteries and electric vehicle infrastructure to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility. Adding these experts would ensure Michigan plans for electric vehicle infrastructure, which will power autonomous, shared and connected vehicles.
  • Accelerate regulatory strategies to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure and reduce legislative and regulatory barriers to deployment. For example, vehicle registration fees should be structured in a way that does not overcharge electric vehicle owners.
  • Create a dedicated electric vehicle coordinating group including all relevant state agencies to identify and streamline economic development opportunities in Michigan’s mobility industry.
  • Reconvene the Michigan Plug-In Electric Vehicle Taskforce at the Michigan Public Service Commission to formally bring businesses, regulators, utility companies and automakers together with a focus on autonomous, electric vehicles.

It is clear that electrification plays a key role in advanced mobility and the future of our transportation sector, which is critical to Michigan’s economy. Many stakeholders in Michigan – and indeed, across the Midwest – are committed to advancing an electrified, automated transportation future.

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Topics: Guest Post, Advanced Transportation