Gov. Gretchen Whitmer puts Michigan in the driver's seat for electric vehicle charging

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This week on the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, following two important announcements from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer solidifying Michigan’s commitment to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, a conversation with two of the people helping to make the ideas a reality.

First, Elsa Givan, an analyst at Silicon Foundry who is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, will talk about why this is a leapfrog moment for Michigan and the future of automated and electric vehicles. In a second segment, Michele Mueller, a senior project manager at MDOT, explains the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, while participating in the opening ceremony at Motor Bella, the governor announced an initiative to develop the nation's first wireless charging infrastructure on a public road in the U.S. The development of a wireless dynamic charging roadway in Michigan is a step toward addressing range anxiety and will accelerate the transition to all-electric transit fleets in Michigan and beyond.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Policy Conference, the governor followed up with two related announcements:

  • A “Lake Michigan EV Circuit,” a charging infrastructure network along Lake Michigan to support the region's tourism industry; and
  • An initiative to prepare Michigan's workforce for automotive mobility and electrification jobs and career pathways.

Givan explains why these EV announcements represent a leapfrog moment for Michigan and what other states are doing in the charging realm. She likens the charging initiative to the Cavnue project, suggesting this project gives Michigan the ability to rapidly accelerate its electrification strategy by adopting a technology on the five to 10-year mass-adoption horizon.
She also predicts that as automated EVs become the national standard, consumer expectations will shift toward complementary automated charging infrastructure, unlocking massive time and cost efficiencies for commercial freight, public transit, and private transportation.

Underscoring the economic and work force development imperative, Givan says that in order to “own the future of mobility, Michigan must place bold bets on electrification innovation.” Projects like the Electric Avenue signal to the private sector that the state is the most conducive and supportive environment nationwide for EV companies to launch and scale their businesses, which in turn leads to new high-paying jobs in the mobility sector and economic growth.
Later, MDOT’s Mueller joins the podcast to explain her role in overseeing the RFP for the wireless charging roadway concept. She explains why Michigan offers a holistic and supportive environment for developing charging technology and the collaboration among several state agencies.
Mueller also touts MDOT’s other pioneering efforts in mobility like Mcity at the University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility as effective examples of those partnerships.

Because the RFP process encourages creativity and allows for developing innovative solutions, the expectation is for a number of companies to seize the opportunity to try out their concepts.

Mueller further underscores Givan’s comments about the value of this process providing myriad opportunities for companies here in Michigan to utilize and test their technology in a live environment.
Podcast photo: Elsa Givan. Photo courtesy of Silicon Foundry.

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