Michigan auto industry is preparing for an electrified future. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!
Because Michigan has multiple auto manufacturing plants, the state is looking to expand vehicle electrification.
“If we’re going to continue to expand as a species, we need another way to power ourselves and move around, a cleaner, more sustainable way, because eventually we’re just going to run out of Oil,” said Rivian’s Geometry modeler Steve Radosevich.
General Motors is one of the manufacturers that has made Michigan a centre of electric vehicle production. GM’s Orion Township plant will be one of the company’s major electric vehicle makers. The plant, which initially produced the Chevrolet Malibus and Pontiac G6, will now produce all-electric trucks.
GM is also moving its production base to Detroit. The Detroit-Hamtrack plant, nicknamed “Factory Zero,” will produce electric models of the Hummer, Sierra, Cruise and Silverado. Radosevich, who is focused on expanding to everyday drivers, said manufacturers are now making cars that people want, not cars for a limited market.
Manufacturing is just one aspect of Michigan’s electric vehicle push. It’s not enough to just make more Electric Vehicles, consumers must be persuaded to switch. To incentivize Michigan citizens to invest in electric vehicles, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has introduced several policies to encourage electric vehicle ownership.
“Generally speaking, if you put in a $10,000 incentive, more people will pursue electric vehicles,” said Kevin Elliott, a philosophy professor at Michigan State University who specializes in research and environmental ethics. He said that while environmental decisions should be made from a more ethical perspective, the market is a powerful factor affecting ordinary people.
Michigan doesn’t just offer consumers Electric Vehicle maintenance costs. The state also receives federal funding to support infrastructure expansion. Tremaine Phillips, a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission, said the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide Michigan with $110 million for electric vehicle charging investments.
“Public policy is critical to helping us better organize and plan for federal investment,” Phillips said. “It’s important.”
Automakers such as General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Tesla Inc. have all placed their future on the development of electric vehicles. What was once a fad, is now a steady trend in wider vehicle electrification, Phillips said.
As Michigan and automakers join the Electric Vehicle transition, the final call still rests with consumers. A more common concern pointed to by Dana Mirate, a salesperson at Graff Chevrolet, is the reluctance to turn away from gasoline.
To compete with the convenience of the gas station, superchargers are in high demand. However, their availability is limited due to installation costs. Lansing has only two. Overall, there are only five superchargers in the Lansing area.
With superchargers limited and home chargers taking a long time, consumers are still unsure whether to switch from gasoline. Michigan plans to roll out more chargers to ease the anxiety consumers face when migrating from familiar gas stations to electric vehicle charging.
The main problem is getting over the idea that you can treat the car like a mobile phone. We have no problem charging our phones overnight or driving at less than 50 percent, so people need to start thinking about their cars that way.
The COVID-19 pandemic is another factor limiting Michigan’s electrification progress as supply issues plague Electric Vehicle manufacturing. Microchip shortages and supply chain disruptions have hampered near-term sales as Electric Vehicles inventories dwindle.
Despite recent bottlenecks, vehicle electrification, while not exponential, is on the rise. Enthusiasm for electric vehicles has spread. More and more people are willing to try. In particular, electric vehicles such as the Fusion petrol-electric hybrid and the all-electric F-150 Lightning truck have become more popular.
These trends in Electric Vehicle adoption are not going to go backwards. You’re only going to increase and increase exponentially. That gives Michigan a signal that it needs to prepare.
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