General Motors signals big shift with EV fleet plans 

Michigan’s clean energy future was electrified with the news General Motors aims to transition to an all-electric light-duty truck and SUV fleet by 2035, Clean Fuels Michigan said today.

In effort to reach its goal, GM began a new campaign, “EVerybody in,” and debuted a Super Bowl advertisement where Will Ferrell says that Norway sells “way more” electric cars than the United States. In Norway, 60% of new cars sold are electric, compared to only 2% in the United States. 

General Motors is a member of Clean Fuels Michigan – a group of leading companies and organizations advancing the clean transportation industry in Michigan. 

“This is the first time a major legacy auto manufacturer has committed to phasing out gasoline vehicles entirely,” said Jane McCurry, executive director of Clean Fuels Michigan. “Consumers are demanding more electric vehicles because they are faster, quieter and cheaper to operate and offer a better driving experience. GM realizes that and is stepping up to the plate.” 

“GM’s announcement is an exciting step toward helping the state of Michigan reach its 2050 net zero goal,” said Benjamin Burns, director of marketing and electrification for DTE Energy.  

“The landscape is shifting toward cleaner, advanced vehicles, and GM’s announcement is yet another example of the shifting tailwinds,” said Charles Griffith, director of the climate & energy program for Ecology Center. “Transitioning to all-electric vehicles will help Michigan’s economy while cleaning our air and water and creating healthier communities.” 

Clean Fuels Michigan noted that like other technology, the transition to electric vehicles will happen fast. For example, in 1990, 2% of Americans had a cell phone while by 2010, more than 92% of people in the United States had a cell phone.

Bills aim to improve clean mobility infrastructure

Legislation intends to eliminate obstructions for the sale, research and development of technologies.

Grand Rapids Business Journal – By Ehren Wynder

On the heels of a recent Clean Fuels Michigan report, two Michigan state representatives introduced bills to help grease the wheels for clean mobility infrastructure.

Reps. Bronna Kahle, R-Adrian, and Michael Webber, R-Rochester Hills, introduced legislation to help remove barriers for the sale, research and development of electric vehicles and other clean mobility technologies.

Kahle’s House Bill 6328 would create incentives for businesses that make investments into the research and development of electric vehicles and advanced mobility. This bill would help small and midsized companies invest in R&D for advanced mobility in Michigan.

Specifically, the bill calls for amendments to the Michigan Strategic Fund Act allowing advanced propulsion and mobility technologies to qualify for the fund.

“It’s important to note this is not a new cost to the state by any means,” Kahle said. “It’s an expansion of who can apply for grants from the Michigan Strategic Fund.”

Kahle said she was inspired by Venchurs Vehicle Systems, an auto manufacturer headquartered in her district of Adrian.

“They are doing some wonderful things providing compressed natural gas conversion for fleet vehicles,” she said.

Venchurs also is a qualified vehicle modifier for Ford Motor Company and offers CNG conversion for the full Ford lineup, according to the company’s website.

Webber’s House Bill 6083 would make electric and alternative fuel vehicles exempt from a portion of the sales tax, which would be calculated based on the vehicle’s weight.

“We definitely want to get those vehicles out on the road,” Webber said. “That’s a little bit of what my legislation is trying to do — get folks to look at these clean vehicles. They want to be fuel efficient, but then they look at the price tag.”

If Webber’s bill passes, vehicles up to 6,000 pounds would receive a $1,000 exemption, up to 16,000 pounds would receive a $2,500 exemption, up to 26,000 pounds would receive a $5,000 exemption and vehicles over 26,000 pounds would receive a $7,500 tax exemption.

Tax exemptions apply for both the sale of a new alternative energy vehicle and the sale of a motor vehicle that has been converted to an alternative energy vehicle. The exclusion also applies to a new alternative energy vehicle purchased for lease if the term of the lease is at least two years.

Clean Fuels Michigan, a group of local companies focused on clean fuel alternatives, released a report claiming the state’s clean mobility sector contributes $18.8 billion to the Michigan economy each year and generates over $700 million in state and local taxes, according to previous Business Journal coverage.

The report also said Michigan’s clean mobility supply chain contributes over 69,000 direct and indirect jobs to the state economy.

Clean Fuels Michigan defines clean-fuel vehicles as ones powered by biofuels, propane, natural gas, electricity and hydrogen fuel cells. Hybrid vehicles also are included.

“Clean transportation technologies will play an increasingly important role in Michigan’s auto industry, which is why it is important to have policies in place that position Michigan to lead in this rapidly changing industry,” said Mike Alaimo, executive director of Clean Fuels Michigan.

While Alaimo applauded the recent push for legislative change, he added there still is “massive” potential for growth and further investment in the clean mobility industry. With over 3,160 clean technology transportation patents and 375 R&D centers, Michigan is beating California in terms of innovation, but the potential remains largely untapped.

“As robust as the industry is emerging in Michigan, it’s growing rapidly elsewhere,” Alaimo said. “Indiana and Ohio are aggressively supporting the growth of these vehicles. We’re No. 1 in terms of energy patents, but we’re near the bottom in terms of implementations … that’s going to be our main focus going into fall and winter.”

As part of its effort to raise awareness, Clean Fuels Michigan is coming to Grand Rapids on Oct. 15 to host a Clean Mobility Expo at The Rapid CNG Fueling Station. The event will feature various clean-fuel vehicles on display and panel discussions with industry experts.

Kahle and Webber said they were inspired partly by the Clean Fuels report to get on board and introduce legislation to spur alternative vehicle development.

“The top priority for me is promoting policies that strengthen our economy,” Kahle said. “This report played a role for me in terms of growth in industry, growth in jobs. It confirms what I already saw in my visit with Venchurs.”

Both bills still have yet to be voted into law. House Bill 6328 was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and House Bill 6083 was referred to the Tax Policy Committee. Neither bill has been voted out of its respective committee at press time.

New all-electric school bus makes a debut

Motiv Power Systems and Creative Bus Sales Inc. have partnered up in the creation of this all-electric school bus. It provides a opportunity for school districts to reduce their carbon footprint, improve conditions for students’ health and save on fuel costs. The zero-emission school bus will use the Motiv’s electric powertrain, a Ford F-59 chassis and Starcraft body. Features of the e-Quest XL bus include passenger capacity of up to 48, a range of up to 85 miles, and the attainment of a 50% battery charge within two hours, among others.

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Electric and autonomous concept cars featured at CES 2016

CES 2016, the technology trade show will feature both production-ready electric cars and autonomous concept cars from automakers such as GM and Volkswagen AG.  There will be around 3,600 companies featured at this show. At the show’s new conference, Ford will be discussing its recent partnership with Google to build driverless cars. This partnership is important to maintain Michigan’s leadership in the auto industry as new trends in mobility arise.

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Federal Alternative Fuel Tax Credits Extended

The tax bill named the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, extends many  federal tax credits that expired in 2014. This legislation will extend through 2016 and will ultimately help consumers save money and get more clean fuel vehicles on the road. The bill package extends the 1,000 home refueling tax credit and the alternative vehicle refueling property subsidy. Additionally, it includes several incentives that are beneficial to the biofuels industry.

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Pennsylvania announces new alternative fuel vehicle rebates

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP ) announced the new vehicle rebates that are available through the state’s Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant Program. Plug in vehicle models such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus and Chevy Volt are eligible for rebate amount of 2,000. Natural gas, propane, hydrogen or fuel cell vehicles are eligible for the $1,000 rebate. California has also announced additional grants under its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology program.

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Chrysler completes $40 million switch to new CNG truck fleet

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finished a two year, $40 million project to switch a new fleet of 179 trucks powered by CNG and renovate its truck operations center on Detroit’s east side. By making this change it is estimated that Chrysler will save $2.5 million annually on fuel costs. This investment demonstrates the automaker’s commitment to improve the air quality of Michigan and invest in the city of Detroit.

Read the full article on the Detroit Free Press →