Electrifying Trucks and Buses in Michigan

The Problem

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of petroleum, accounting for one-fifth of global daily supply. Oil accounts for over 90% of energy use in the U.S. transportation sector. This overwhelming dependence on oil threatens public health, energy security, our economy, and our climate.

The Solution

Volvo VNR Electric tractor-trailer
Volvo VNR Electric tractor-trailer. Courtesy of Volvo Trucks

Widespread deployment and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is the best solution to these challenges, and the electrification of trucks and buses is a critical part of the transformation, both in Michigan and across the nation.

Multiple vehicle manufacturers have committed to full electrification of their product lines, and the federal government has renewed its focus on electrifying transportation. State policy action is needed to leverage this momentum for Michigan. We have a finite window of opportunity to preserve U.S. economic leadership, meaningfully reduce emissions, and protect American manufacturing jobs.

EVs Support Economic Growth

For the State of Michigan, transportation electrification will generate renewed investments, job growth, and continued competitiveness in the global automotive market.

Two men working in an auto factory
Two workers at a Rivian plant. Courtesy of Rivian

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 buy medium- and heavy-duty EVs like trucks and buses. And the United States stands to gain 29,000 jobs through measures to expand charging infrastructure and energy storage. These are jobs that can be part of Michigan’s future.

Auto manufacturers are already reimagining their vehicle portfolios, releasing new electric models, and investing in electric vehicle manufacturing in the United States, including Michigan.

  • Ford has committed to invest $22 billion in EVs through 2025, invested $700 million in its Rouge Center to build the electric F-150, and committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
  • GM has committed $27 billion to electrification, with a goal of ending production of vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035. The company is investing $3 billion to produce all-electric trucks, SUVs, and electric self-driving vehicles at its Hamtramck plant. When the plant is fully operational, GM projects it will create 2,200 manufacturing jobs.
  • Michigan-based Rivian received an order to build 100,000 delivery trucks from Amazon worth $700 million. Ford supported Rivian with a $500 million investment to build an electric pickup truck.

EVs Promote Energy Security

Because the fate of the U.S. economy is so closely tied to petroleum, the United States is forced to expend tremendous resources to secure the word’s oil supply. The U.S. military spends $81 billion per year to protect oil infrastructure and oil transit routes.2 In addition to the financial drain, this puts the lives of our servicemembers at risk to protect the flow of oil.

Electricity, on the other hand, is ubiquitous and domestically produced from a diversity of energy sources. Electricity is also cheaper than gasoline and diesel fuel, and its pricing is far less volatile. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, even though domestic oil production has increased substantially in recent years, the global oil market is still heavily influenced by OPEC, a cartel of 13 petroleum-exporting countries in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.

EVs Advance Public Health and Equity

Vehicles are a leading source of air pollutants that affect human health. Vehicle emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog), which can trigger health problems such as aggravated asthma, reduced lung capacity, and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia and bronchitis.

Motor vehicles, particularly those used for freight, are also a major source of fine particulate matter. Particulate matter is linked to significant health problems, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and heart attacks. Long-term exposure is likely to cause lung cancer. Low-income and minority communities are more likely to be located near highways and other transportation facilities that lead to negative health effects. According to the American Lung Association, widespread adoption of electric vehicles by 2050 would result in an estimated $72 billion per year in health care savings nationally. In Michigan alone, the annual benefits would include $1.7 billion in avoided health-impact costs, 145 premature deaths avoided, 1,837 asthma attacks avoided, and 8,253 lost work days avoided.

EVs Help Tackle Climate Change

Transportation is the single largest source of GHG emissions in the United States. Life cycle GHG emissions of an EV are typically far lower than those of a comparable conventional vehicle. MHD vehicles, including delivery trucks, delivery vans, tractor-trailers, transit buses, and school buses, represent approximately 11% of the vehicles on the road, but they produce about 29% of the GHG emissions that come from vehicles. That’s why the electrification of these vehicles is so critical to addressing climate change.

Electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will also be essential to Michigan’s ability to meet its own climate goals. In 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a goal of economic decarbonization in Michigan by 2050, and a directive to create a Michigan Healthy Climate Plan, which will provide strategies and recommendations for achieving and tracking progress toward the statewide goals.

Policies to Advance Electrification of Trucks and Buses

Michigan should join the Multi-State MHD Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, pledging that at least 30% of all new trucks and buses sold in Michigan will be zero-emission vehicles by 2030, and 100% by 2050. To meet these commitments, Michigan needs to take the following policy actions:

  • Support incentives, utility investments and state targets that will accelerate the electrification of trucks that travel along our highways and through our neighborhoods to deliver goods to our homes and businesses.
  • Electrify public transit and school buses to provide clean, healthy ways for Michigan’s residents to travel to and
    from school, work, and home.
  • Invest in the development of medium- and heavy-duty charging infrastructure to ensure that Michigan does not miss out on the economic opportunities afforded by the electrification of transportation.

Take Action

Let Governor Whitmer know that you support the effort to electrify Michigan’s trucks and buses.

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.