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Spotlight on Electrification

By Lieesl Clark
President, Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council

We live in an era of rapid change. The explosion of big data enables technology advances in many industries including transportation and electricity. One of the most exciting areas is where these two sectors overlap. How we view this change will determine Michigan’s future – do we embrace the change as opportunity or fight it as disruption?

As mobility-as-a-service, shared rides, automated and connected transportation grows, it has become clear that the electrified powertrain will be the platform for the future of mobility. In October, cumulative sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in the United States reached 1 million vehicles. By 2040, it is expected that 33 percent of the cars across the globe will be electric. By 2020, analysts project that there will be more than 50 models of PEVs available in the United States and up to 100 by 2022. Michigan’s automotive manufacturers have kept pace with these trends, with General Motors and Ford Motor Company recently announcing dozens of new electric models in addition to their already successful electric brands.

This convergence of the electricity and mobility sectors represents a disruptive inflection point that can give the state of Michigan an advantage by utilizing the state’s unique strengths in the automotive, battery, electrified power train, and advanced energy industries.

As the birthplace of the car, Michigan’s automotive leaders are key players in this industry transition. Michigan-based automotive manufacturers are not only competing with other automakers to lead the global market, but also with innovators who are changing the traditional paradigm of what it means to be a transportation company.

Michigan is also the home of battery-pack manufacturing, advanced-battery vehicle research, engineering, development and integration, and a fully integrated, large-format cell manufacturing facility. State of Michigan investments include advanced battery tax credits and public-private partnerships like the University of Michigan Energy Institute’s Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility, The American Center for Mobility, and PlanetM.

Michigan has already taken several key steps to encourage and enable our mobility future. Our state is one of just six that allow self-driving vehicles on public roads. Michigan’s electric utilities recently proposed plans to significantly expand electric vehicle charging equipment across the state. The Michigan Agency for Energy and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are executing plans to use money from the Volkswagen settlement to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electrify transportation including deployment of electric school buses.

We need to continue the momentum to ensure that Michigan remains a leader in the connected, automated, shared and electrified mobility future.

Securing Michigan’s place in the mobility future will require the participation of all stakeholders, including consumers, utilities, regulators, policymakers, automakers, the advanced energy industry, and the advocacy community. Michigan has an immense market opportunity to be a dominant player in the development and deployment of the automated, electrified and shared transportation ecosystem.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council is a business trade association representing companies in the state’s growing advanced energy sector.