LANSING, MI — It’s been a big week for electric vehicle announcements in Michigan.
Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian will build a $4.6 million customer service center in Plymouth, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office on Thursday. The announcement is the latest in a series on electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, industry growth and workforce training to occur this week during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference.
On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Whitmer announced plans to create a route of charging stations along Lake Michigan connecting coastal communities. On Tuesday, at the at Motor Bella auto show, she announced plans to build the first segment of road in the U.S. that charges vehicles while they’re driving.
“Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we’re paving the way for the roads of tomorrow with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment, helping us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” Whitmer said in a release.
Michigan’s efforts come amid a push by the Biden Administration to increase the number of electric vehicles as well as the infrastructure needed to support them.
In August, Biden announced that his administration wants half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 to be electric. Automakers have called for billions in government assistance to meet that goal. Presently, electric vehicles make up only about 2 percent of U.S. auto sales, which is well behind Europe and China.
The $1 trillion infrastructure plan moving through Congress is expected to funnel money to states like Michigan to build charging networks and other electrification needs.
The electrification push is intended to bolster economic development and employment while also deceasing the use of fossil fuels that contribute to global climate change.
“The future of the auto industry is electric,” Biden said during a visit to Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn in May. “There’s no turning back.”
Next week, Michigan will seek proposals from companies to design and build the “Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot” road, which would be located on a one-mile stretch of state road somewhere in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties.
The electrified roadway project is a partnership between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Along Lake Michigan, the state will use $1.25 million to provide grants through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) for communities to install a network of publicly accessible charging stations between coastal and rural communities, state and national parks and other tourism attractions.
On Mackinac Island for the annual Detroit Regional Chamber’s policy conference, Whitmer promoted the Lake Michigan charging network as a way to draw out-of-state visitors who may experience so-called “range anxiety” of using eclectic cars in areas with few charging options.
As electric vehicles advance, charging infrastructure has become a priority for Michigan cities that want to draw residents in addition to visitors, according to the Associated Press. The city of Saginaw got its first charging stations in September in the hope that those traveling in the east side of the state toward tourist areas in northern Michigan will stop, since there is little electric vehicle infrastructure available at most northern destinations.
The Lake Michigan plan is still in early stages, but Whitmer said she hopes neighboring states will join in the effort and create an inter-state charging network around the lake.
Also this week, Whitmer’s office announced a training effort intended to support the automative mobility and electrification industries, called The Michigan Revolution for Electrification of Vehicles Academy/Academies (MiREV).
The goal is to transition thousands of workers trained in producing traditional gas-powered vehicles with internal combustion engines.
In Plymouth, the new Rivian facility received a $750,000 performance-based business development grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
“This state-of-the-art facility reinforces our reputation as a leader in both customer service and the future of mobility and electrification,” Whitmer said.