Businesses Call on Illinois Governor to Support Electric Trucks and Buses

June 24, 2021

More than 40 businesses are urging Gov. Pritzker to join a multi-state agreement to electrify medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.


Washington, D.C.— Dozens of businesses, including global vehicle manufacturing leaders, urged Gov. J. B. Pritzker to support the electrification of trucks and buses throughout Illinois. The Electrification Coalition delivered a letter Thursday signed by 41 businesses, asking the governor to join the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, pledging that at least 30 percent of all new trucks and buses sold in Illinois will be zero-emission vehicles by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

“Illinois is establishing itself as a national leader in the manufacturing of medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles,” said Lion Electric CEO and founder, Marc Bedard. “Gov. Pritzker’s administration has been a fantastic partner in working with Lion to select Joliet, Ill., for our upcoming U.S. manufacturing facility. The governor’s participation in the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding would further solidify the state’s ongoing commitment to clean transportation and pave the way for thousands more clean energy and manufacturing jobs in the state, paying dividends for decades to come.”

A little boy steps off an electric bus.
The LionC electric school bus from Lion Electric.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have already signed onto the agreement. Illinois’s participation would build on Gov. Pritzker’s existing work to advance the adoption of electric vehicles, including the dedication of all Volkswagen settlement funds to electric vehicle deployment. The governor has set a goal of getting 750,000 electric vehicles on the road in Illinois by 2030, and he aims to make Illinois “the best state in the country to manufacture and drive an electric vehicle.” The Illinois General Assembly this year adopted a resolution urging Gov. Pritzker to add Illinois to the multi-state agreement to electrify medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“Illinois is well positioned to be the first state in the Midwest to commit to the MOU,” said Chris Nevers, Senior Director of Environmental Policy at Rivian. “With sound policy and strong partners, Illinois can continue to demonstrate leadership in environmental responsibility and advanced manufacturing, which will have major benefits to the state’s economy and promote job growth.”

Rivian’s first manufacturing campus is located in Normal, Ill., where the company is building its R1 SUV and pickup truck products and its commercial vans. Rivian’s teams at the Normal campus include manufacturing engineering and operations, supply chain and logistics, IT and customer engagement. Other signatories to the letter include Volvo Trucks North America, Proterra, Mack Trucks, Parsons, Siemens, Lion Electric and more than two dozen Illinois small businesses.

Robust public investment and regulatory reform along the EV supply chain has the potential to create more than 500,000 jobs across the United States over a five-year period, according to a report by the Electrification Coalition and Securing America’s Future Energy. Nearly 154,000 of those jobs would stem from incentives that make it less expensive to purchase medium- and heavy-duty EVs like trucks and buses.

“Illinois’s participation in the multi-state agreement to electrify trucks and buses is imperative to growing the state’s leadership in automotive manufacturing, with major implications for the economy and future jobs,” said Ben Prochazka, executive director of the Electrification Coalition. “The electrification of transportation is a question of when – not if. Illinois has a chance to help our nation pick up the pace so that we can remain competitive on the global stage.”

Lion Electric, a leading manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles, announced in May that it has selected Joliet, Ill., for the construction of its U.S. manufacturing facility. The new facility will represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the United States. The 900,000 sq-ft facility is expected to add a minimum of 745 jobs to the region over the next three years, with an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all-electric buses and trucks.

The United States is currently the world’s largest consumer of petroleum, accounting for one-fifth of global daily supply; oil accounts for more than 90 percent of energy use in the U.S. transportation sector. The country’s overwhelming dependence on oil has broad implications for public health, national security, the climate and the future of American manufacturing jobs.

Conventional vehicles are a leading source of air pollutants that affect human health. Emissions from internal combustion engines (ICEs) contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, which can trigger health problems such as aggravated asthma, reduced lung capacity and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia and bronchitis. And transportation is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

“As a digital agency that builds the internet for a living, our work sometimes replaces the need for physical transportation,” said Tim Frick, president of Mightybytes, a Chicago digital agency and Certified B Corp. “However, COVID-19 also forced millions of people to shop exclusively online, increasing the need to transport goods long distances. Transportation is a huge source of carbon emissions. Electrifying freight vehicles can help us significantly reduce this environmental impact.”

ICE vehicles, particularly those used for freight, are a major source of particulate matter, which is linked to lung cancer, heart attacks and other health issues. Low-income and minority communities are more likely to be located near highways and other transportation facilities that lead to negative health effects resulting from vehicle emissions.

“I grew up in a city with heavily polluted air, and it is not an experience I wish upon anybody,” said Soroush Yousefisahi, founder of Boomerang Coffee of Chicago, which aims to use electric vehicles to transport its products. “So I urge Gov. Pritzker to take this step to electrify vehicles in the near future to preserve our well-being and natural resources and encourage all businesses to rethink the way of the past.”

According to the American Lung Association, widespread adoption of electric vehicles by 2050 would result in an estimated savings of $72 billion per year in health costs nationally. In Illinois alone, the annual benefits would include $3.2 billion in avoided health-impact costs, 274 premature deaths avoided, 4,106 asthma attacks avoided and 18,735 lost work days avoided.

“EV infrastructure takes vehicles from local polluters to zero emissions, drastically reducing unhealthy emissions from vehicles that enter buildings like fire stations and warehouses,” said Jamie Johnson, CEO of Verde Energy Efficiency Experts, which works with Chicagoland commercial and municipal buildings on energy efficiency, cost savings and building health. “In addition to saving transportation costs, further building gains can be found from reducing exhaust management. EVs represent not only an improvement in transit, but an important piece for the sustainable future our state needs.”

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About the Electrification Coalition: The Electrification Coalition is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to policies and actions that facilitate widespread deployment and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) to combat the economic, public health, and national security threats posed by America’s dependence on oil.

Amy Malaki

Amy Malaki is the Director of Partnerships and Policy at SkyNRG and SkyNRG Americas, pioneering global leaders in sustainable aviation fuel production and supply. Prior to SkyNRG, Amy was the Associate Director for the transportation portfolio at the ClimateWorks Foundation where she developed philanthropic investment strategies to advance a sustainable, equitable and low-carbon mobility system. She also pioneered the organization’s international aviation decarbonization strategy. Prior to that she focused on Asia business development at Better Place, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle network startup. She has a B.A. in Chinese and China studies from the University of Washington and an M.A. in international policy studies (energy and environment) from Stanford University.