Mid-Michigan isn't pumping the brakes on EVs, it's putting the pedal to the metal

Electric vehicle charging
Posted at 10:57 PM, Oct 19, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan's electric vehicle market is taking off, and it's taking "pedal to the metal" to the next level.

Michigan's Chief Mobility Officer Trevor Pawl said it is, "very much a priority right now."

"I eat electric vehicles for breakfast. It's all I do," he laughed.

Pawl said electric vehicle sales have been growing exponentially. There are 17,500 registered electric vehicles in Michigan, which is a 65% increase from 2020.

"When GM says they're going to go all electric before 2035, it sends a signal to the market," Pawl said. "We're putting ourselves in a better situation, if we want the air to be cleaner, if we want our streets to be quieter."

The next challenge is building the support. For every seven EVs in Michigan, there is one EV charger, though the number of chargers has grown 39% from 2021. Right now, the state has about 2,500 chargers with more on the way.

"The state received $100 million to install charging infrastructure," Pawl said.

But, are we shifting gears fast enough? MSU Gardner Endowed Chair and Mechanical Engineering Professor Gouming Zhu isn't convinced.

"The industry has their own pace, and then, the customer has their own pace," Zhu said. "The customer will basically have the final say."

Zhu has been in the automotive industry for 30 years and has watched trends come and go.

"If the transition is not as fast as what we expect when transitioning to EV for passenger vehicles, do we have a back-up plan?" Zhu laughed.

Pawl agrees we can do better. By 2030, he'd like to see 2 million EVs on the road and 100,000 chargers. But, it doesn't stop there.

"One of the really cool projects that our team has had the chance to work on is a road in Detroit that charges an electric vehicle as it's in motion," Pawl said.

It would be the first street of its kind in North America, and the first mile will be rolled out in 2023.

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