Mobility Council’s report addresses challenges state must meet to continue as global leader

LANSING — The Council on Future Mobility and Electrification (CFME) released its first annual report analyzing the economic opportunity created by new mobility technologies and the challenges Michigan must address for the state to remain a global leader in the mobility and electrification revolution.

Since the first Model T rolled off an assembly line, Michigan has been the global leader in the mobility sector. Maintaining this leadership is imperative to the continued prosperity of the state and its residents. Recognizing the importance of the future of mobility, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-2 creating the CFME to develop public policy recommendations that will maintain Michigan’s leadership in advanced mobility and electrification.

The report assesses the current state of Michigan’s mobility industry and its position to successfully navigate the key trends that will define the future of mobility: autonomous driving, vehicle connectivity, powertrain electrification, shared mobility, intelligent automation and global supply chain.

This report found that to fully take advantage of this generational economic opportunity, Michigan must work collaboratively with partners to address several challenges. It is essential that Michigan enhance its high-skilled talent development and attraction efforts in the mobility industry and address workforce transition and development. Strategies need to be developed to increase the state’s share of advanced auto manufacturing and the accompanying supply base. It is necessary that Michigan also tackle the issues responsible for low electric vehicle adoption rates. Finally, Michigan must activate greater capital investment in automated vehicle technology and focus more on startup and second-stage business development.

“Mobility is a foundational part of our state’s history and critical to the economic success of our future. This report indicates a need for ramping up our investments and developing a robust mobility sector that is vital to Michigan’s future economic competitiveness,” said Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and CFME chair. “The transformation towards mobility and electrification creates opportunities that result in a more resilient Michigan economy, offering new high-paying and in-demand jobs.

Michigan will need to accelerate its efforts to improve in talent retention and development, the attraction of key future mobility industry players, and coordination between the government, technology, energy, and mobility ecosystem stakeholders. The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) and CFME will use this assessment as a baseline and determine the gaps to fill and the actions required to enable Michigan to retain its global leadership position in mobility.

OFME will coordinate the initiatives in cooperation with the Departments of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and all of state government. The Mobility Futures Initiative, a $25M proposal included in the Governor’s Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2022, lays out the implementation of several of these initiatives.

LEO will receive a provision of $15M for development and implementation of a long-term strategic plan, first-of-its-kind projects aimed at future-proofing our infrastructure, and talent and workforce tools to sustain the state’s global mobility and electrification leadership.

EGLE will receive $8M for deployment of EV charging along important regional commercial corridors targeting medium and heavy-duty trucks, assisting with fleet transitions from diesel to electric. It will also launch the ‘Flip Your Fleet’ Program – reaffirming Michigan’s commitment to carbon neutrality by incentivizing small businesses and school districts to switch from high-emission producing diesel to electric fleets.

“EGLE has already provided more than $2 million in grants to install DC fast-charging stations throughout Michigan and $4.2 million for electric school buses in seven districts around the state. We’re also offering grants to businesses so they can replace older work trucks, delivery vans, transit buses and off-road work vehicles with battery-powered replacements,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE director.

“As these technologies evolve in remarkable ways, Michigan is committed to continuing our momentum and growth, shaping the way the world moves,” said Michigan Chief Mobility Officer Trevor Pawl. “The industry is changing, and we are working tirelessly to employ all of our resources to produce the latest mobility technologies and guarantee that Michigan retains its status as a global leader in the mobility arena.” — G.G.