Report: Michigan Must Invest in Skilled Talent, Infrastructure to Remain Mobility Leader

In order for Michigan to remain a leader in mobility as electric and autonomous vehicles come to market, the state must enhance its high-skilled talent development, increase electric vehicle adoption rates, and activate greater capital investment, according to the Council on Future Mobility and Electrification in Lansing.
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electric vehicle charging
According to the Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, Michigan must invest in talent and startups and grow electric vehicle adoption rates. // Stock photo

In order for Michigan to remain a leader in mobility as electric and autonomous vehicles come to market, the state must enhance its high-skilled talent development, increase electric vehicle adoption rates, and activate greater capital investment, according to the Council on Future Mobility and Electrification in Lansing.

The inaugural report analyzes 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. It assesses Michigan’s 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.

Michigan must develop and attract high-skilled talent in the mobility industry and address workforce transition and development, the report says. The state also needs to develop strategies to increase the state’s share of advanced auto manufacturing and the accompanying supply base. Michigan also has to tackle the issues responsible for low electric vehicle adoption rates and activate greater capital investment in automated vehicle technology, focusing more on startups and second-stage business development.

“Mobility is a foundational part of our state’s history and critical to the economic success of our future,” said Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and chair of the council. “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. The transformation towards mobility and electrification creates opportunities that result in a more resilient Michigan economy, offering new high-paying and in-demand jobs.

The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and Council on Future Mobility and Electrification will use the 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.

The office will coordinate the initiatives in cooperation with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; Department of Transportation; the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; and the state government. The Mobility Futures Initiative, a $25 million proposal included in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2022, lays out the implementation of several of these initiatives.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will receive a provision of $15 million for the development and implementation of a long-term strategic plan, projects aimed at future-proofing infrastructure as well as talent and workforce tools.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will receive $8 million for deployment of electric vehicle charging along 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, which will incentivize small businesses and school districts to switch from 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,” says Liesl Clark, director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“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. These grants and the Flip Your Fleet Program are important steps to building on the momentum we’re seeing in the transportation sector’s move toward electrification. This mobility evolution will help the state reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and have an immediate, direct impact of cleaner air to breathe across the state and especially in communities that are disproportionally affected by harmful pollutants.”

The proposed funding would also grant the Michigan Department of Transportation $2 million to remove transit barriers and provide post-pandemic solutions for on-demand transportation alternatives that improve regional mobility and correct systemic inequity.

The full report is available here.

Check out DBusiness’ article on a planned digital roadway along Michigan Avenue here.

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