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Michigan Survey Reveals Hurdles and Progress in Local EV Charging Infrastructure

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Poll Reveals: Municipalities View EV Charging Infrastructure as Expensive, Not Urgent

A fresh study from the University of Michigan indicates that while an increasing number of Michigan's local authorities recognize the importance of electric vehicle charging, the overall awareness remains relatively modest. Additionally, for those considering the implementation of EV charging, financial constraints are seen as a significant obstacle.

The study focuses on Michigan, a state known for its deep roots in the automobile sector, which likely indicates a higher level of recognition for electric vehicle technology in its countryside compared to other regions. Implemented during the previous autumn, the survey noted a rise in enthusiasm from municipal authorities since an earlier survey in 2019, yet it suggests there is still potential for further advancement.

Approximately 40% of surveyed local officials believe that planning for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure is moderately to highly pertinent, marking a rise of 23% since 2019. Slightly more than 25% view EV charging as irrelevant within their areas, a decline from the 40% who held this view in 2019.

Initial production run of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV underway at the Factory Zero facility in Detroit, Michigan.

More than one in three participants (34%) reported a shortage of community charging points for electric vehicles, an increase from 29% the previous year. Over half of the respondents (53%) cited the expense involved in installing more EV charging facilities, or a disinterest from the community (51%) as significant obstacles to increasing the infrastructure.

The study revealed a disparity between urban and rural perspectives, showing that officials from villages and townships were less inclined to view planning for electric vehicle charging as highly pertinent to their areas, with only 14% and 10% acknowledging its relevance. In contrast, a higher percentage of city and county officials, at 32% and 30% respectively, considered it to be very relevant.

Charging stations by Rivian Waypoints located at Holland State Park in Michigan, captured in an image by Diane Dawson Wilks, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

At the national scale, President Biden's team aims to establish a vast network of half a million charging stations, which will extend into select rural areas and minor municipalities. This expansion hinges on the predetermined routes marked for alternative energy sources. To aid this initiative, the government has allocated extra financial resources targeted at rural communities referred to somewhat vaguely as "economically disadvantaged communities and regions outside of major cities," with allocations based on specific statistical criteria.

Less populous Californian towns and countryside regions have shown enthusiasm in broadcasting their achievements with electric vehicles and their charging infrastructure. This occurred during the initial phase of adoption when electric vehicles hadn't yet become a contentious political issue. Additionally, setting up intermediate Level 2 charging stations will undoubtedly benefit rural communities by serving people traveling to work, shopping, and the like, all at a low expense.

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