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The Capitol Dome in Lansing, Michigan with EV charger superimposed.
The Capitol Dome in Lansing, Michigan with EV charger superimposed.

Charging Up Michigan's EV Future

By Bill Moore

Like other American states, Michigan is slated to received several millions of dollars from the Volkswagen dirty diesel scandal settlement. It's the Michigan Energy Office's job to figure out how and where to spend it.

The state of Michigan covers some 96,000 square miles and is home to 9.9 million inhabitants scattered across it's upper and lower peninsulas. It is also home to three of the world's major carmakers, as well as thousands of suppliers.

A lot of Michiganders also bought Volkswagen 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel-powered vehicles, model years 2009-2013, which produced illegal levels of pollutants. As part of the German automaker's settlement, Michigan has been awarded more than $64 million dollars, some of which it plans to set aside for the installation of public chargers, both intercity and intracity, as illustrated by two maps below: one illustrating a “Low Tech” scenario, the other a “High Tech” one.

Low Tech Public Charger Network Scenario

High Tech Public Charger Network Scenario

As Michigan Energy Office Director Robert Jackson explains to EV World’s Bill Moore, the goal of his office to make sure that money is spent effectively where and how it will do the most good in mitigating the damage done by Volkswagen’s actions. Some of the money will be spent on cleaner school buses, but a sizable fraction will be use to install public charging stations both in its urban centers and also along its major Interstate system.

To accomplish this effectively, so the right number of chargers are in the right locations, Jackson’s office commissioned Michigan State University to develop a mathematical matrix that identifies, based on state traffic data, energy usage patterns, and EV market projections, where are the most likely places EV drivers will want to recharge their vehicles, especially on longer, inter-city trips.

One of the more interesting findings of the MSU study was the realization that as battery technology improved, the need for large numbers of charging outlets, as opposed to stations, will be less for the simple reason that drivers can go further on 100kWh of battery versus 40-70kWh, common in today’s cars. Fewer outlets, means lower costs, but the numbers are still in the double digit millions: the “mixed” scenario of both low-tech and high-tech EVs still runs more than $20 million, some of which will come from the VW settlement, and the rest of both state and local government sources, as well as private ventures. Importantly, the cost of the electricity will be born by the private sector: either businesses offer “free charging” to attract customers or by EV drivers themselves.

To learn more the details of Michigan’s EV charging network plans, be sure to listen to the interview in its entirety using the embedded MP3 player below.

Times Article Viewed: 30012
Originally published: 03 Jan 2019

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