Michigan put the automobile on the map, and now we have a chance to lead it into the future.
Transportation contributes 1/3 of all climate pollution in Michigan, with 95 percent of cars and trucks in the U.S. running on petroleum.
To achieve a stable climate, we will need to move to electric vehicles that run on renewable electricity. Fortunately, more efficient vehicles and electric vehicles are rapidly coming to market.
Hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) have been on our roads for more than a decade, and recent improvements in battery technology has helped bring to market a variety of electric cars, many that are more affordable and able to travel long distances between charges. The newest Tesla EV grabbed headlines last year when it sold over 400,000 pre-orders within days, and there are now at least 16 different EVs available in the Midwest. You can even find some used EVs for sale. This rise in EVs has led some industry analysts to predict that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered, perhaps by 2025, and that electric vehicle growth could be very disruptive to gasoline demand by 2031.
Improving fuel efficiency is critical to reducing our carbon emissions while we transition to EVs. In 2012, the U.S. government and auto industry agreed to double the fuel efficiency standard for cars and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This was an important step that would reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels and save Americans $1.7 trillion at the gas pump. Unfortunately, President Trump recently announced that his administration will roll back these standards, despite the fact that car companies have easily met the standards to date and companies are now thriving. Join us in urging the Trump administration and Michigan car companies to follow through on the U.S. commitment to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles.
Public transit and non-motorized transportation, like walking and biking, are also critical to curbing climate pollution. Public transit continues to grow in the U.S., with transit ridership rising more than 37 percent in the past 20 years. Public transit is a $57 billion industry that employs more than 400,000 people nationwide.
The electrification of transportation is both the future of the automobile industry and essential for a stable climate. Moving to zero emission vehicles will also reduce pollution, improve health and save lives. This evolution of the transportation industry is good news for Michigan, the birthplace and home of the automobile industry. As jobs transition from traditional vehicles to electric and autonomous vehicles - which most people expect will be electric - Michigan has the opportunity to lead the change and build upon our leadership in the automobile industry.
The Michigan Climate Action Network is calling for a transition to 100% electric vehicles in Michigan before midcentury. We support the coalition of Michigan organizations that are helping to build the market for electronic and autonomous vehicles for the future through initiatives that include:
- Incentives for the purchase of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and associated charging equipment;
- Planning by local municipalities to support EV charging stations in the community and at work;
- Purchase of electric vehicles for public and private vehicle fleets; and
- Integration of EV charging infrastructure into utility planning and customer demand-response incentive programs.
For more information, visit our partner groups:
Ecology Center's Clean Vehicles and Fuels program
Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles program
Environmental Law & Policy Center's Clean Transportation program