On July 18, Michigan EIBC convened electric vehicle (EV) and advanced mobility stakeholders to share information and discuss strategies for electrifying fleets. The event, which was hosted at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing, was sponsored by the ride-sharing giant and Michigan EIBC member company Lyft. The convening was the 4th installment of Michigan EIBC’s recent series of EV convenings, which are designed to bring together market, policy, and technology stakeholders to accelerate electrification in Michigan by building a cohesive, collaborative strategy for EV infrastructure deployment.
Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, opened the convening with an overview of the opportunities that advanced mobility and vehicle electrification offer Michigan, while identifying key strategies to move the industry forward. Stevens noted that Michigan can and should be a leader in the automated, connected, electrified, and shared mobility future. MICHauto is driving toward this future through the Michigan Mobility Initiative, which is helping by driving progress on research and development, branding, policy, and talent attraction and development.
Three panel discussions on (1) trends in fleet electrification, (2) medium and heavy-duty fleet electrification, and (3) electrification of ride sharing and the future of mobility systems comprised the rest of the meeting. On the first panel, Sara Forni of Ceres and David Peterson of Michigan EIBC member company ChargePoint gave their thoughts on the overall trends, opportunities, and challenges to fleet electrification. Forni outlined how electrification can help companies meet climate and emissions goals, improve workforce recruitment and retention, provide reputational benefits for companies, improve workplace safety, offer consistent fuel supply and price stability, and lead to overall cost savings. Peterson urged the audience to approach fleet electrification as a distinct process for each company, working with existing fleet operations and staff expertise to develop the best solutions for each company’s needs.
On the second panel, Stuart Irwin of Michigan EIBC member company EVolution EV Systems, Rich Weiner of Michigan EIBC member company Schneider Electric, and David McEllis of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) spoke about medium and heavy-duty fleet electrification. Irwin provided an overview of medium and light-duty applications, highlighting some of the largest recent electrification deployments of commercial truck fleets. Weiner discussed Schneider’s work electrifying fleets, emphasizing that the total cost of ownership makes electric fleets appealing, particularly due to reduced maintenance costs and fuel costs. Finally, David McEllis spoke specifically about electrifying school buses, describing ELPC’s work to leverage VW settlement funds to this end.
Charles Griffith of the Ecology Center moderated the third panel on electrification of ride sharing and the future of mobility systems. Panelists Matt Patton of Lyft and Mike Alaimo of Clean Fuels Michigan provided an overview of the ride-sharing landscape. Patton emphasized the environmental and logistical benefits of ride-sharing while Alaimo suggested that cities pursuing electrification can help encourage ride-sharing services to electrify by providing incentives for charging and parking for EVs.
The convening closed with an eye toward next steps. The final convening on August 15 will focus on rate design, the utility pilot programs, and future opportunities for this stakeholder group to advance EVs in Michigan.