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Whitmer targets mobility in recent orders, agreements COURTESY PHOTO

Whitmer targets mobility in recent orders, agreements

BY Sunday, March 08, 2020 06:15pm

Over the past two weeks, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and major automakers have continued the state’s mobility shift to emphasize electric and autonomous vehicles.

On Feb. 25, Whitmer created offices, positions and advisory groups on “future mobility” and electric vehicles. 

The state’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will be headed by a newly created chief mobility officer and will coordinate mobility-related programs across state government. The office and position was created via executive directive.

The Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, created by executive order, will advise state officials and provide annual policy recommendations.

Roughly a week after the executive decisions, Whitmer announced a memorandum of understanding with Finland to share information and resources across a variety of clean technology sectors, including electric vehicles. Under the agreement, the governments would share information on policies and regulations and best practices for creating market opportunities and demand for clean tech, among other priorities.

Whitmer and industry officials say the moves are meant to enhance public-private partnerships around mobility that already exist, particularly in Southeast Michigan.

“In the state that put the world on wheels and that’s home to some of the most innovative, driven workers on the planet, we must continue to work to solidify Michigan as a global leader in mobility,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing the mobility office and advisory council last month.

Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, wrote in an op-ed that Whitmer’s orders come “at a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that electric vehicles are the future of the automotive industry.”

The executive orders also drew praise from major automakers including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, which are also ramping up future mobility investments.

On March 4, GM reportedly invited about 150 journalists to an “EV day” that unveiled 11 electric vehicle models planned in the coming years. The company also says it has developed new batteries that will reduce the cost of electric vehicles and expand their range up to 400 miles. The Detroit Free Press reported GM will spend $20 billion until 2025 on electric vehicle development.

At the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford officials announced the company would invest $11 billion in electric vehicles by 2022, featuring 40 models of hybrid and fully electric vehicles.

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