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OFME | Michigan Mobility and Electrification Report Early August 2022

Michigan Business Network
August 5, 2022 6:00 PM

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Michigan Announces Mobility Wallet Challenge to Improve Transit Solutions

MDOT and OFME recently launched the Michigan Mobility Wallet Challenge to explore the creation of a Mobility Wallet Pilot Program, which aims to increase the interoperability of transit services and offer Michigan residents greater access to personal mobility. Specifically, the program’s goal will be to simplify transit payment processes by allowing riders or third-party stakeholders to load funds, or connect bank accounts, to a single platform that streamlines ride fare payment.


The state will host two information sessions on Thursday, Aug. 11 from 1-2:30 p.m. ET and on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET for interested applicants, vendors, mobility partners and organizations, and public transit agencies. Attendees will have the chance to learn about the opportunity, receive tips and best practices for submitting a proposal and connect with other companies and Michigan partners to explore collaborations.

Mobility Wallet Pilot Program proposals must be submitted by Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. ET to be considered.


Michigan Joining Three Other Midwest States to Build America’s Best Electric Vehicle Road Trip

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced a collaboration with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to build America’s next iconic road trip route, specifically for electric vehicles. The Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour will be a network of electric vehicle chargers spanning over 1,100 miles of drivable shoreline around Lake Michigan. 

“With this announcement, we are putting the country on notice that the Midwest is the place to be for clean energy and small business growth,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The circuit will allow travelers to experience Lake Michigan and visit countless communities in and around the route. I am so proud that we came together to forge this bipartisan agreement. Let’s keep Michigan—and the Midwest—moving forward.”

Gentex Invests $300M in Michigan, Creates 500 New Automotive Industry Jobs

Gentex, a manufacturer of high-tech electronics for the auto, aerospace, and fire safety industries, is investing $300 million to expand in Zeeland, Michigan. The company, which currently employs more than 5,000 people in West Michigan, will add more than 500 new jobs as part of the investment.

The expansion includes three separate projects, all in Zeeland and Zeeland Township:

  • A new 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on the company's North Riley Campus in Zeeland Township
  • A 350,000-square-foot expansion of the company's distribution center at its North Riley Campus in Zeeland Township
  • A 60,000-square-foot expansion of the company's processing facility on State Street in Zeeland

Following LG Energy Solutions’ $1.7 million investment in a massive new plant, warehouse, and other buildings in Holland, this expansion is the latest in a series of investments that position Michigan as the epicenter of autonomous and electric vehicle manufacturing in the U.S.

Michigan Signs First-Of-Its-Kind Bill for Autonomous Vehicle Regulations

Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law first-of-its-kind legislation that will help enable the development and testing of dedicated autonomous vehicle (AV) roadways in Michigan. Thanks to the new law, Michigan will be able to set new global standards for automotive safety, mobility infrastructure, and smart cities - all while testing the latest AV technologies in real-world environments.

Additionally, the new law will set the stage for the development of a connected and automated vehicle corridor in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Transportation and Office of Future Mobility and Electrification will work jointly with the private sector to create and put into use the automated vehicle roadway technology in the state.

“Michigan put the world on wheels, but the automotive industry as we know it is beginning to take new forms. We need to solidify Michigan’s role in the future of vehicle technology as well, and this legislation does just that,” said Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, who sponsored the original bill. “Adapting and testing our roadways goes hand in hand with emerging vehicle technologies, and this law gives us the ability to test smart roads as well.”

Australian Automotive Software Company Finds North American Headquarters In Ann Arbor

Australian company Evenergi has chosen Ann Arbor as the site of its North American headquarters. The company, which helps its partners plan, implement, and manage zero emissions transport transitions, cited Michigan’s forward-thinking leadership in EVs and AVs as a reason for the move.

Ann Arbor is a familiar location for Evenergi - the company completed a bus propulsion study in February this year in partnership with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AAATA). The study was designed to review propulsion options available for the greater Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti public transit system, including Battery Electric Buses, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Buses, Trolley Buses, and Compressed Natural Gas.

Ultimately, it found that only 60 percent of AAATA’s services can be electrified using battery electric buses with depot-only charging, but that 95 percent could be electrified with hydrogen fuel cell electric buses.

Transportation Planning App Launches for Kent County Residents

Grand Rapids-based Ride YourWay, a wheelchair and ambulatory transportation provider, has launched a mobile app for on-demand rides in West Michigan, in partnership with Canadian technology startup MUVE. The app offers dispatch mapping, real-time information driver updates, rider on-demand bookings and fixed route scheduling, creating a refined mobility ecosystem that enables residents in Kent County to move where they need, when they need to.

“We’re extremely pleased to be working with the entire Ride YourWay team, supporting them in our collective quest to eliminate mobility barriers. In addition to e-reservations, the Go MUVE app includes a ‘tagging’ feature that enables users to identify various levels of accessibility within their community,” said Peter Grande, co-Founder of MUVE. “This feature lets users tag events, businesses, facilities, and public areas by answering a few simple questions related to mobility and accessibility, further enriching the value of the platform for Kent County.”

MUVE, a past recipient of a Michigan Mobility Funding Platform Grant, also released its mobility ecosystem suite of services in Washtenaw County in June of this year.

Michigan Battery Plant Key to Mass Manufacturing Push From Natron and Clarios

Natron Energy, Inc., a leading manufacturer of sodium-ion batteries, and Clarios International Inc., the global leader in low-voltage advanced battery technologies for mobility, have entered into a strategic agreement to manufacture the world’s first mass-produced sodium-ion batteries.

Center stage of this agreement is Clarios Meadowbrook, a Holland-based Clarios manufacturing plant. The site will take the lead on manufacturing efforts when mass production begins in 2023, becoming the world’s largest sodium-ion battery plant. With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Natron will install new cell assembly equipment at Clarios Meadowbrook to enable mass production of sodium-ion cells.

Currently, Natron batteries are used primarily for critical power applications such as data centers and telecom networks. However, future applications may also include electric vehicles and grid energy storage.

Detroit Apple Developer Academy Graduates Find Jobs in Michigan Auto Industry

The first ever cohort of Detroit Apple Developer Academy students graduated just this summer with newly honed app development and entrepreneurial skills. The 100 graduates range in age from 18 to 64 and come from diverse backgrounds with a variety of educational experiences. Following graduation, some students have already secured employment with top automakers in Michigan — including General Motors and Ford.

The academy is the first in the U.S., launched as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. The free program offers students an opportunity to become entrepreneurs and app developers by learning the fundamentals of coding, design, marketing, and project management — with an emphasis on inclusivity and making a positive impact in local communities. During the program, graduates developed new apps that are, or will be, available on the App Store that address a range of consumer needs, including travel, health and wellness, and augmented reality games.

Applications Open for Technology Startup Exhibitors at NAIAS

The North American International Detroit Auto Show (a.k.a. Detroit Auto Show) has announced applications are now open for technology startups to exhibit at the upcoming show this fall. The Startup Exhibition will be located within AutoMobili-D, the technology showcase presented by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), on the main show floor during Media and Industry Tech Days, Sept. 14 – 15, 2022.

AutoMobili-D features 80+ technology companies including the latest vehicle innovations from Tier 1 suppliers, universities, and the mobility startup community. Startups must meet specific criteria in order to be selected to participate in this reduced-fee exhibit area. Criteria includes revenue of less than $10M, an employee roster under 100, investment thresholds, and length in business.

Michigan Mobility Funding Platform: Rolling Applications Open

OFME and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) have partnered to launch the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP) aimed at providing vital grant funding to mobility and electrification companies of all sizes looking to deploy their technology in Michigan. Grants are focused on catalyzing and scaling mobility solutions across three key areas of focus:

  • Sustainable Futures: Improve environmental sustainability by encouraging EV adoption and the buildout of EV charging infrastructure
  • Equitable Futures: Alleviate mobility barriers and increase access to affordable and reliable transportation options
  • Multimodal Transportation: Modernize existing transportation systems and keep Michigan at the forefront across all connected and autonomous transportation modes

For Michigan-based entities working to address a mobility/electrification challenge or solution providers looking to find a Michigan-based partner, additional Interest Forms are available to support those seeking and providing solutions through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform.

More information about eligibility for testing environments and real-world deployments, as well as past grant recipients, is available here. The current rolling application period ends September 30, 2022.

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Electric vehicles are here. The journey ahead may be a jolt (video) | Washington PostThe mass adoption of EVs will change the way people think about, and take care of, cars – from driving them to repairing them. Car culture is transforming to one with fewer moving parts, almost no maintenance, and less pollution. Not only is it changing how we get around, but it's altering whole neighborhoods.

Regardless of what the future holds, Michigan is implementing new policies and programs that put the state at the forefront of EV innovation.

Ford is Testing a New Robotic Charging Station to Assist Drivers of EVs With Disabilities | FutureCarFord has partnered with Dortmund University in Germany to develop and test a new robotic EV charging arm that will offer European drivers with disabilities an easier solution for charging their EVs. The custom-made robot charging station is currently being tested in real-world environments, with the goal of developing fully automatic charging for AVs with no driver support.

Ford says that disabled drivers have already identified ease of charging as a key concern for switching to EVs, citing a recent survey in the UK that showed that 61% of disabled drivers would consider buying an EV only if charging was made more accessible.

“Ford is committed to ensuring freedom of movement and right now refueling or charging your vehicle can be a major problem for some drivers,” said Birger Fricke, research engineer at Ford of Europe. “The robot charging station could be an added convenience for some people but – absolutely essential for others.”

Gov. Whitmer Celebrates CHIPS and Science Act With President Biden

On Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the CHIPS and Science Act, bipartisan federal legislation that will boost American manufacturing, create and protect tens of thousands of jobs, and lower costs for working families. At the event, the governor was joined by representatives from Michigan-based polysilicon manufacturer Hemlock Semiconductor, labor unions, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), and virtually by President Biden.

As part of the celebration, a new executive directive from Governor Whitmer instructs state departments and agencies to leverage all available resources from the CHIPS and Science Act to continue bringing in long-term, sustainable investments from companies around the world to Michigan. These resources will help to increase domestic chip production near automakers and other manufacturers, ultimately spurring innovation, reducing inefficiencies, and avoiding costly delays.

In the past year, Michigan has secured several investments in semiconductor and polysilicon manufacturing:

  • Hemlock Semiconductor Operations, a leading provider of high-purity polysilicon products for the electronic and solar power industries, onboarded more than 400 full-time employees in Hemlock.
  • KLA, a global semiconductor firm, opened their headquarters in Ann Arbor creating 600 good-paying jobs.
  • Wacker, a chemical and polysilicon firm, opened a cutting-edge innovation center in Ann Arbor creating 300 good-paying jobs.
  • SK Siltron, a semiconductor wafer manufacturer, announced a new facility near Bay City, creating 150 good-paying jobs.
  • Calumet Electronics, one of a few American manufacturers producing organic substrate components for microelectronics, announced an expansion creating 80 jobs in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
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