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.

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Lawmakers Announce Clean Mobility Legislation During ‘Drive Electric Week’

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Drive Electric Week celebrates benefits, opportunities for electric vehicles, advanced mobility

LANSING, Mich.–– As events take place across the state for National Drive Electric Week, Representatives Bronna Kahle (R-Clinton) and Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) today announced legislation that would help remove barriers for the sale, research and development of electric vehicles and other clean mobility technologies.

House Bill 6328, introduced by Rep. Kahle 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 mid-sized companies invest in R&D for advanced mobility in Michigan.

“Michigan’s rich history as the auto capital of the world means we should be a leader in the future of transportation and vehicle production,” said Rep. Kahle. “My legislation keeps Michigan on the cutting edge of innovation and supports next-generation companies. It’s part of a plan promoting job creation, community revitalization and clean fuels – three positive goals that can be accomplished together with the right strategy.”

House Bill 6083, introduced by Rep. Webber 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.

“Electric and autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation in Michigan and across the country, and my legislation will remove barriers for Michiganders who want to take advantage of the growing advanced mobility trend,” said Rep. Webber. “Currently, consumers seeking to purchase an electric vehicle face many hurdles and additional fees that make owning an EV out of reach for many, and my legislation seeks to increase access to those consumers who wish to save money on gasoline and promote cleaner transportation.”

In May, Clean Fuels Michigan, an organization of businesses and organizations focused on growing a high-tech, clean transportation industry in Michigan released a report on the economic impact of the clean mobility industry in Michigan. The report found that the industry contributes $18.8 billion to Michigan’s economy each year, and supports more than 69,000 jobs.

“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.  “There is massive potential for growth and further investment in the clean mobility industry, and I applaud Reps. Kahle and Webber for introducing legislation that would help Michigan seize on this potential.”

Clean Fuels Michigan, along with other industry partners such as Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities Coalition, the Michigan Agency for Energy and General Motors, participated in events for Drive Electric Week including an electric vehicle ride and drive.

“Vehicle electrification is a vital component of the automotive industry’s seismic transition towards advanced mobility technologies,” said Britta Gross, director of advanced vehicle technology and commercialization policy for General Motors. “Investing in this technology will support jobs and the environment, and help Michigan maintain its’ leadership as the automotive capital of the world during a time of unprecedented competition.”

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Report: Clean mobility sector pumps $18B into Michigan’s economy annually

New report on clean mobility in Michigan details economic, environmental, consumer benefits

The clean mobility sector contributes $18.8 billion to Michigan’s economy and generates over $700 million in state and local tax revenue annually, according to a new economic analysis released today by Clean Fuels Michigan. The study was conducted by Public Sector Consultants and analyzed various economic benefits that result from private sector investments in research, development and commercialization of clean mobility technologies. Clean mobility includes vehicles that use less-polluting alternatives to fossil fuels, such as biofuels, propane, natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells, electrification and hybrids.

“Whether we are looking to support advanced mobility innovations like autonomous or connected vehicles, preserve and grow our skilled workforce, or do more to support clean energy solutions, clean transportation technologies are truly the backbone of a global arms race towards the next generation of mobility,” said Mike Alaimo, Executive Director of Clean Fuels Michigan.  “As the auto capital of the world, Michigan needs to ensure that our policies reflect the rapid change and fierce competition in the global arena.”

Key findings from the analysis include:

  • The clean mobility sector contributes $18.8 billion to Michigan’s economy each year, generating over $700 million in state and local taxes
  • With indirect and induced employment, Michigan’s clean mobility supply chain contributes over 69,000 jobs to the state’s economy
  • Michigan currently has 29,000 direct clean fuel vehicle jobs
  • Technology and policy changes will push the vehicle sector increasingly towards clean fuels
  • Clean fuel vehicles have enormous potential to decrease healthcare costs associated with poor air quality

“The rapid growth of clean fuel vehicles has big implications for Michigan’s automotive, tech and energy industries, which make up a significant portion of the state’s workforce,” said Jeff Guilfoyle, Vice President of Public Sector Consultants and lead author of the study. “Millions of these vehicles are projected to be on our roads over the next few years. Government policies have and will continue to play an important role when looking at ways this evolving industry can affect Michigan’s overall economic health.”

Michigan Automakers and utility companies are actively working to support the increased adoption of electric vehicles and see significant benefits of vehicle electrification for Michigan.

“Supporting innovation in the clean fuels sector can drive down costs and help us overcome barriers to electric vehicle adoption, like access to charging infrastructure,” saidVince Carioti, Director of E-Mobility at Phoenix Contact. “As a large, privately held auto supplier, we see enormous opportunity for growth in Michigan’s clean fuels sector and are excited about working to increase our presence there.”

“DTE Energy is working to ensure plug-in electric and natural gas vehicles (PEVs and NGVs respectively) are integrated in a manner that ensures safe and reliable operation of the grid,” said Rob Bacyinski, Program Manager of Natural Gas Vehicle Business Development, DTE Energy and Chair of the Board at Clean Fuels Michigan. “We believe that clean fuels and electric vehicles will bring added benefits to not only the energy grid, but customers and the public at large.”

The full report can be found here.

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.

Read the full article on NGTNews.com →

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.

Read the full article on the Detroit News →

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.

Read the full article on NGTNews.com →

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.

Read the full article on NGTNews.com →