Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist has announced that Michigan will launch six new services to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure, increase access to electric vehicles, and broaden electric vehicle adoption in communities around the state.
The six mobility companies- Chargeway, eCAMION, ElectricFish, Fleet Lab, MoGo and Volta- will receive more than $577,000 in total funding through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform to deploy mobility projects in Lansing, Traverse City, Port Austin, Allegan County, Burt Township, Monroe, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and DTE Energy’s Service Territory.
The Lt. Governor says “Whether we are supporting electric vehicle manufacturing, industry-leading research campuses, or training the talent of the future to adapt to this electrified landscape, we understand in Michigan the value of innovating in our current mobility ecosystems to support the needs of the future,[…] These grant recipients represent the next phase in our state’s evolution as a mobility leader and will undoubtedly help pave the way for our continued economic growth and success in this space.”
Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist have been working to largely progress electric vehicles, securing investments from GM, Ford, Stellantis and electric vehicle battery manufacturers that have helped to create over 21,600 good-paying auto jobs.
In her 2022 State of the State address, Governor Whitmer announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind program to lower the cost of electric vehicles for families by putting forward a $2,500 rebate for the purchase of an electric vehicle and charging equipment to build on the $7,500 federal credit. With this rebate, a Michigan family could receive more than $10,000 off the purchase of a new electric vehicle.
These electric vehicle projects follow the governor’s announcement of her MI Healthy Climate Plan last week, which outlines a series of goals to encourage greater electric vehicle adoption statewide.
Launched by the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform provides grants to mobility and electrification organizations looking to deploy solutions in the state of Michigan
Trevor Pawl, Michigan Chief Mobility Officer, says “As the legacy automaker in the country, Michigan is uniquely positioned with the right combination of knowledge and resources to lead the charge of widespread vehicle electrification,”.
The Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grants focus on catalyzing and scaling mobility solutions that improve environmental sustainability by encouraging electric vehicle adoption and charging infrastructure build-out, increasing access to affordable and reliable transportation options, and modernizing existing transportation systems.
OFME in partnership with Charge Up Michigan and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), reviews and administers the grant applications, which are accepted on a rolling basis at michiganbusiness.org/mobility-funding.
The announcement represents the latest in a series of grants awarded through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform. With these new grants, more than $1.7 million dollars has been awarded to date. This round’s Michigan Mobility Funding Platform Grant recipients are as follows:
Chargeway ($150,000 – Lansing and Traverse City)
The car buying process is quickly evolving thanks to the expansion of vehicle electrification. This evolution will require the public to easily understand how this meets their transportation needs, which revolves around understanding electricity as a fuel type. Simultaneously, automotive dealerships need to be able to understand and easily explain both the technology and cost savings benefits that electric vehicles can provide their customers.
To help improve the customer experience at dealerships, as well as simplify and accelerate EV sales, Chargeway will work in coordination with the Michigan Auto Dealers Association, DTE, Consumers Energy, Michigan Clean Cities, the Lansing Board of Water & Light, and Traverse City Light & Power to identify dealerships in Lansing and Traverse City to take part in the Accelerating Dealership EV Sales with Chargeway program. The program will use Chargeway’s software platform as both a training and sales tool for dealerships, and as an educational tool for car shoppers.
Additionally, retail informational kiosks called Chargeway Beacons will be placed at select auto dealerships throughout the state to provide simplified dealership electric vehicle sales tools and interactive experiences with electric vehicle charging information from various Michigan utilities. Shoppers will be able to download the Chargeway mobile app to take their electric vehicle research and shopping experiences with them.
“Michigan is the birthplace of the modern automobile, and as the industry evolves through electrification it is fitting that these advancements would be accelerated in this state,” said Matt Teske, Founder and CEO of Chargeway. “Mobility has improved through electrification, providing consumers with a more powerful fuel that is also far more affordable, cleaner and available everywhere, including in their homes. That is why the Chargeway team is so excited to be working with the Michigan Auto Dealers Association and electric utilities throughout Michigan to bring the ‘electric fuel’ experience home for residents.”
eCAMION ($86,690 – Port Austin)
Widespread electric vehicle adoption can be stymied by energy grids that don’t have enough power to effectively support an influx in electricity demand when it comes to the more remote areas of Michigan.
To help address this need, eCAMION, in partnership with EGLE, DTE and the Village of Port Austin, will install its Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) in Port Austin. The systems, which include DC Fast Chargers, are designed to operate independently and act as a buffer to electric grids. Additionally, they rely on very little power, making them ideal for supporting electric vehicle charging in more remote, rural areas.
“eCAMION’s chargers and BESS are future-proofed, meaning that as the power demands of EVs increase, we can respond very quickly to increase energy output that could easily be doubled with minor changes, and possibly even as little as a different cable,” said Michael McCoy, Strategic Sales Executive for eCAMION USA Inc.
ElectricFish ($72,000 – DTE Electric service territory)
With the rise of EVs, communities will need to bolster their energy grid resilience to better support charging needs. In partnership with DTE Electric, ElectricFish will deploy its microgrid-integrated DC Fast Charging system at a public site where DC Fast Charging would otherwise be challenging due to grid constraints. Once deployed, the solution will charge electric vehicles as well as provide backup energy to a local grid feeder to boost the site’s resiliency.
Unlike traditional systems, ElectricFish’s solution is directly compatible with existing electrical infrastructure while still increasing DC Fast Charging capacity by three to seven times. This will help achieve a rapid ramp-up of electric vehicle adoption while also helping to maintain a reliable and safe electric system for DTE customers. In addition, ElectricFish’s resilient technology aligns well with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent recommendations around adaptation, which will be critical for future-proofing Michigan’s mobility ecosystem.
“At ElectricFish, we unlock resilient and equitable electrification to tackle climate change at scale,” said Vince Wong, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at ElectricFish. “With support from the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform, we are excited to partner with DTE Electric in the mobility capital of the world to accelerate the widespread adoption of grid-resilient, electric transportation.”
Fleet Lab ($90,000 – Burt Township, Allegan County, Monroe, Ann Arbor)
Between long travel times, congested drop off areas, safety challenges and emissions concerns, school districts face critical transportation challenges, which represents an opportunity for modernization, including fleet electrification.
To help meet this need, Fleet Lab – along with partners Burt Township School District, Allegan Area Integrated School District, St. Mary Catholic Central High School, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute – will deploy its Community Optimized Student Transportation system in three Michigan school districts. As part of the system, Fleet Lab will recruit, vet and train drivers to transport students in specially equipped, electric passenger vans.
Once implemented, the system will enable districts to cut emissions while saving money on vehicle costs, fuel costs and maintenance costs. The system will also help address the extreme driver shortages, eliminate hazardous bus stops on the side of busy roads and slash student travel times, which can be up to four hours per school day.
“Students attend our school from a large area surrounding Monroe,” said Sean Jorgensen, President of St. Mary Catholic Central High School. “This trial deployment will help get our kids to school safely and quickly, enabling them to get more sleep while also saving parents lots of time.”
Tony Barnes, Superintendent of Burt Township School District, added, “we have been advertising for drivers for over three years with no success. Burt is working with Fleet Lab to hire drivers and help support our school’s mission of providing a high quality, environmentally-focused, technologically-superior education for east central UP youth.”
MoGo ($80,000 – Detroit)
The demand for electric bicycles continues to rise and was only accelerated because of COVID-19. In Detroit alone, MoGo – a nonprofit bike-sharing company – has seen its e-bikes being ridden three times more often than their standard pedal bikes, despite them making up only 12% of MoGo’s total fleet.
To address the rising demand for e-bikes, MoGo will use their awarded grant to build a 15-dock electric charging bike share station with a solar panel roof in a lower income neighborhood of Detroit with partners Michigan Central Innovation District LLC, PBSC Urban Solutions, Shift Transit and SkyHook. Charging at the structure will be 100% solar powered.
By adding an e-station to MoGo’s service network, electric pedal-assist bicycles will become more available to the public, allowing people to move more quickly, and making bike share a more reliable option in Detroit’s overall transportation ecosystem. Additionally, by charging these bikes exclusively through solar energy, MoGo will be able to drastically reduce its carbon footprint – not only for e-bike charging, but for bike maintenance team pickups and returns.
“We are grateful to the State of Michigan and their partners for providing this grant to MoGo,” said Adriel Thornton, Executive Director for MoGo. “This will allow us to expand on providing equitable, affordable, and healthy transportation to the community in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.”
Michigan Central’s support represents the latest development in an already existing partnership with MoGo to implement an e-bike share system with two charging stations within its mobility innovation district. This newest e-bike charging station, while not located on the Michigan Central site, is another proof point of the companies’ collaboration and also part of Michigan Central’s long-term strategic relationship with the state of Michigan.
“We are proud our partnership with MoGo resulted in this opportunity to expand their system into other neighborhoods as they work to meet the increasing demand for using e-bikes in the city,” said Jela Ellefson, Project Manager for Michigan Central. “Co-creating or showcasing new flexible, accessible solutions that provide options for better transportation for all is at the forefront of what we do at Michigan Central – MoGo is a great micro-mobility solution, and we’re excited for the district to be a part of this active and growing transportation system.”
Volta ($98,750 – DTE Electric service territory)
Access to electric vehicle infrastructure is increasing across Michigan – however, charging stations are not always distributed equitably from neighborhood to neighborhood. In particular, low and moderate-income areas are historically underserved by electric vehicle charging networks, leading to a “chicken-and-egg” dilemma in which drivers may be reluctant to shift to electric vehicles before public charging is readily available and visible along drivers’ typical routes.
To help address this dilemma, Volta and DTE partnered to design a program that will target locations – including lower-income and environmental justice communities – that have not seen as much investment by electric vehicle charging network operators to date as higher-income regions. In total, Volta will install six Level 2 and two DC Fast charging stations at four different locations within these targeted areas. The team leveraged Volta’s PredictEV® machine learning software to identify optimal locations to place the stations based on forecasted electric vehicle adoption, EVSE demand, and expected utilization for the region.
Additionally, a portion of the funds provided by DTE will be applied to educate customers on the benefits of electric vehicles and available incentives that can make them more affordable by promoting DTE’s programs on large digital screens at Volta’s electric vehicle charging stations.
“The transition to electric mobility should benefit everyone. This program is squarely targeted at improving equitable access to EV charging infrastructure in Michigan, and it leverages the unique strengths of DTE, Volta, and the state, together,” said Drew Bennett, Executive Vice President of network operations at Volta. “We are proud to partner with the OFME to bring more Volta stations to Michigan in areas where they will make the most impact.”
“Our partnerships with Chargeway, eCAMION, ElectricFish, and Volta support cleaner solutions where we live and serve,” said Tony Tomczak, Vice President of Electric Sales and Marketing, DTE. “These initiatives are some of the many ways DTE is working with our state agencies to promote transportation electrification for all.”
To learn more about how Michigan is leading in transportation mobility and electrification, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/mobility.