While proposals for an EV tax move on in the Michigan legislature, it’s turning into a fruitful summer for Michigan-made EV tech.
The Michigan House passed their version of a road funding bill this month before kicking into vacation mode. After weeks of educating lawmakers about the unfairness of the proposed EV and hybrid registration fees, it was good to see the House at least scale back its proposed increase to $100 for battery-only EVs and $30 for hybrids getting more than 40 mpg--including vehicles like the Volt. While much improved, it still moves us in the wrong direction and won’t raise significant new revenues anytime soon.
There is still hope that the Senate could drop the idea altogether and take into consideration the potential economic benefit of increased EV sales and innovation in our state. Senate Majority leader Arlan Meekhof has said that“nothing is off the table.” But more likely is that EVs will take a bit of a hit for at least symbolic reasons. If that happens, EV supporters will have good reasons to argue that some of that money also go to improving the state’s EV charging infrastructure. Its only fair.
Another indicator of progress is the openness of automaker EV technology advances. Take Ford, which just announced a new foldable e-bike, made many of their PEV patents publicly available, and is moving forward with a car sharing service. When announcing the new e-bike chief executive Mark Fields said it was a matter of recognizing that our cities, our habits and our values are changing, and that our mobility choices should reflect that. That opens up incredible opportunities in the industry, many of them burgeoning right here in Michigan.
It’s also worth noting that while Tesla just pushed back the production timeline for the Model 3 to 2018, we’re already seeing Chevy Bolt prototypes zooming around on test drives and GM has promised to hire 300 workers and invest $245 million at GM’s Orion plant.
News like this underlines that Michigan has what it takes to lead the auto industry in clean vehicle technology. EVs are an exciting and vibrant step toward this. If you haven’t reached out yet, I encourage you to let your state Senator know about your support for that future and how you feel about the proposed road funding proposals.
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center
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Images courtesy of: Top: Flickr user Ian Freimuth under Creative Commons License Bottom: General Motors