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Mobility Report

**”Michigan’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan: Pioneering the Future of EVs, Air, and Water Transport”**



Michigan's transportation initiatives encompass electric vehicles, boats, and aircraft. The state is gearing up for a surge in electric vehicle usage, enhancing its surrounding waterways, and optimizing its air traffic, according to Justine Johnson, who serves as Michigan's chief mobility officer. Entrepreneurs in the mobility sector are experimenting with their innovations at the Newlab, located adjacent to the newly renovated and restored Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

DETROIT — The vision for Michigan's future mobility is materializing in Detroit's Corktown area, where the 18-story Michigan Central Station once stood as a vital transportation center for a city committed to driving America's progress.

Ford Motor Company is converting an old railway station into a center for automotive innovation. Nearby, mobility startups are experimenting with new concepts at the Newlab tech incubator. Adjacent to Newlab, electric cars are charging wirelessly while on the move on the nation's first wireless charging road.

Justine Johnson, Michigan's chief mobility officer, stated from her office in Newlab that numerous people globally are observing Michigan's developments. She questioned whether a model could be created that other states and regions might follow.

According to Johnson, who relocated to Detroit from California seven months ago, all three projects signify both private and public investment in Michigan's transportation infrastructure.

"This fundamentally alters how we transport people, goods, and information," Johnson stated.

Infrastructure initiatives frequently begin with roadwork. Governor Gretchen Whitmer's 2018 campaign focused on "fixing the damn roads." However, Michigan's strategy extends further than just road maintenance. The state is gearing up for a surge in electric vehicles and enhancing its surrounding waterways and air traffic systems.

The United States faces a significant infrastructure task: creating a dependable and accessible charging network for both personal electric cars and commercial electric vehicle fleets. At present, states are allocating federal monies to install fast chargers on highways.

As of March 25, Michigan boasted 1,414 charging locations equipped with a total of 3,256 plugs, as per the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center.

According to a report by the Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, the state will require approximately 10,000 rapid chargers and 90,000 slower Level 2 chargers by the year 2030 to accommodate 2 million electric vehicles.

Additionally, modern chargers frequently malfunction. According to J.D. Power, 18 percent of charging attempts across the country were unsuccessful in the fourth quarter. Johnson, who owns a Ford Mach-E, is well aware of the challenges that come with public charging. She has nicknamed her gray vehicle "Grayce" to remind herself and other electric vehicle (EV) drivers to be patient during the ongoing transition to EV infrastructure. Johnson believes that the charging experience will get better once stations are equipped with basic amenities like trash cans, adequate lighting, and areas to sit or walk.

Justine Johnson, the head of mobility for the state of Michigan

According to Johnson, another frequent issue is "icing," which occurs when a gas-powered car occupies a parking space meant for electric vehicle charging. She often informs the driver of the non-electric vehicle about the spot's intended use.

Johnson emphasized the importance of their role in educating the public.

Michigan aims to ensure a uniform charging experience for electric vehicles across state boundaries. This effort is part of the Lake Michigan Circuit, a collaborative project among several states to establish charging stations along over a thousand miles of Lake Michigan's shoreline. The states involved in this initiative include Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

According to Johnson, working together is crucial for ensuring a uniform charging experience.

"She mentioned the importance of creating and nurturing unique yet smooth experiences for electric vehicle drivers visiting the Great Lakes states, particularly Michigan."

The state of Michigan is developing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Energy has allocated up to $1 billion to the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen, a coalition comprising Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. This funding aims to establish regional supply chains for hydrogen production, distribution, and utilization in trucks and heavy-duty vehicles. This initiative is one of seven hydrogen projects across the country that secured financial support.

Michigan is allocating funds to promote environmentally friendly transportation options that improve air and water quality. According to Johnson, having multiple clean energy sources is essential.

"The greater the variety of clean and renewable energy sources we utilize, the more beneficial it is for our environment. Additionally, it provides people with more choices when selecting vehicles that suit their requirements," she stated.

Johnson is enthusiastic about the future of air travel as a key aspect of sustainable transportation. Prior to her position in Michigan, she was a member of the Los Angeles County Aviation Commission, where she provided guidance on the management and growth of the county's five airports.

"The sky isn't the boundary," she remarked. "This new route will serve as a crucial resource to link goods, and eventually people, as well as information."

She mentioned that air travel could enhance the transportation of essential goods and supplies across the state.

The trend of electrification is also gaining popularity in the maritime sector. According to Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the state has over 800,000 boats registered.

According to Johnson, while California faces a shortage of water, Michigan offers a plentiful supply of fresh water, benefiting both recreational activities and industrial needs.

In the previous year, Governor Whitmer revealed the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge, a funding initiative aimed at motivating businesses to reduce carbon emissions and transition marinas and watercrafts to electric power.

Michigan is home to the Fresh Coast Corridor, America's pioneering freshwater electric boat charging network. This corridor extends along Michigan's northwest coastline, from Frankfort to Mackinac Island.

A number of businesses, such as Brunswick Corp., are transitioning to electric-powered boats. Based in Holland near Lake Michigan, Lilypad Labs is a boating company that offers solar-powered boats for rent to locals and visitors.

"We are genuinely discussing electrification in every aspect," Johnson stated. "How can we harness solar energy for charging? Additionally, how can we create docking stations for ships to connect?"

According to Johnson, Michigan is at the forefront of clean mobility due to its strategic location near waterways and manufacturing facilities, as well as its advanced knowledge in transportation.

People globally focus on Michigan, particularly in terms of automotive technology and mobility, because they recognize that the core groundwork was established there, she explained. She added that Michigan's automotive heritage will persist into both the present and the future.


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