As this year’s North American International Auto Show began, Ford announced plans to boost investment in electric vehicles to an impressive $11 billion by 2022, adding 40 new electric and hybrid models in the process. General Motors made similar announcements late last year, committing to launch more than 20 all-electric vehicles globally by 2023. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the only company of the big three that hasn’t made bold commitments to investing in electric vehicles.

The Detroit News’ Jan. 16 editorial, “Will EVs drive industry future?” presented a skeptical view of Ford’s announcement and the future of EVs. But if there is one thing Michigan’s automakers have learned in recent history, it’s that they must lead the push toward innovation, not lag, and that means accelerating the development and use of electric vehicles.

While EVs currently hold a relatively small share of the auto market, that share continues to push upwards with the introduction of new models like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. Some experts project EVs could account for as much as 40 percent of all auto sales by 2030.

Gasoline might be cheap today, but electric vehicles will save Michiganians money in the long-term. One recent study found Michigan drivers and electricity customers could save more than $30 billion over the next few decades by making the switch from gasoline to locally generated electricity. Ignoring the economic and environmental opportunities that EVs have to offer could be a costly mistake.

Fortunately, Michigan regulators and utility companies are recognizing the opportunity. The Michigan Public Service Commission has taken a proactive approach to expanding EV charging infrastructure in Michigan.

Continued collaboration among policymakers, utility companies, regulators and automakers will help advance Michigan to be a leader in vehicle electrification. Automakers like Ford and GM have already drawn a line in the sand: the future is electric.

Charles Griffith,

climate and energy program director

Ecology Center

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