We’re getting a charge out of the auto show

Dear reader,

We’ve come to expect big news for electric vehicles at the annual North American International Auto Show and this year, the news was even bigger.

The Detroit auto show is open to the public this week, after a week of media previews and product roll-outs, and while most manufacturers are breaking new ground with their plug-ins and hybrids, by far the biggest story is the debut of the 2016 Volt, expected to hit showrooms later this year.

The next-generation Volt promises an extended range, sports a sleeker design, and boasts ever snappier acceleration.“The 2016 Chevrolet Volt provides our owners with a no-compromise electric driving experience,” according to GM North America President Alan Batey. “We believe our engineering prowess combined with data from thousands of customers allows us to deliver the most capable plug-in vehicle in the industry."

Not enough news for you?

Then check out the coverage the media gave to Chevy’s announcement of the new Bolt EV concept, which the Wall Street Journal calls “an EV for everyone.” GM says they’ll have some version of the Bolt available in 2017 for around $30,000. The Bolt “will be aimed squarely at Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3, a $35,000 electric car also slated to debut in 2017.”

Best news of all? The Volt will be continue to be built here in Michigan, and speculation is that the Bolt will be too, possibly at Chevrolet’s Lake Orion plant.

In the middle of this good news, we're sorry that we have to report on a recent downer: the 11-bill transportation funding proposal approved by the legislature at the end of the 2014 session that includes a ballot proposal to be voted on in May for a 1 cent increase in the state sales tax. While funding to fix our roads is long overdue, the proposal includes a trojan horse that we have worked to oppose: a special tax on electric and hybrid vehicles, which some say will make up for the fact that EV owners pay less in gas taxes. We've covered this issue before, and will continue working to convince people in Lansing that there are better ways to raise revenues that don't include penalizing our emerging electric vehicle industry.

We'll have more to say about that down the road, but in this newsletter, we’re covering a lot more good news for Michigan’s workers, Michigan’s economy and Michigan’s environment from this year’s auto show.

In the meantime, thanks for all you do.

Charles Griffith
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center