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EV Business Leaders Highlight MI Infrastructure, Innovation Progress


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    Electric vehicle (EV) industry leaders in Michigan are touting the state's progress toward electrifying the transportation sector and improving infrastructure.

    With funding coming in from the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, they stressed the transition is an opportunity for Michigan, as a major hub of automobile production.

    Minoj Karwa, vice president of worldwide sales for Dearborn-based Rhombus Energy Solutions, said technological, supply-chain and manufacturing innovations make it a big moment for creating jobs, and for getting EVs to consumers.

    "The vehicles are here. They're available. Not just high-end luxury vehicles. Not just passenger cars," Karwa observed. "We're working on providing infrastructure for transit buses, school buses, garbage trucks, last-mile delivery, off-road. It's tremendous."

    Karwa was a panelist in a roundtable discussion hosted by Clean Fuels Michigan and the Environmental Defense Fund. He pointed out his company has pioneered a direct current charger known as "vehicle-to-grid," meaning unused energy when users plug in at night can be restored to the power grid for use elsewhere.

    Natalia Swalnick, director of government affairs for ROUSH CleanTech in Livonia, noted as states work to transition to electric vehicles, it is also important to clean up the power grid. She noted across the U.S., some utilities are using more renewable energy, while others still rely mostly on fossil fuels.

    "And an electric vehicle, the thing that's great about it is it's the only vehicle that gets cleaner the more you drive it," Swalnick emphasized. "Because more utilities across the United States do have a commitment to moving to cleaner sources of energy as time goes on."

    Terry Travis, co-founder and director of EVHybridNoire, a national network of diverse electric-vehicle drivers and enthusiasts, said it is key to reach out to let the public know about EV benefits, from reduced air pollution to a smoother drive.

    "There's an opportunity for folks in urban cores, and rural communities and BIPOC communities, to really be at the crosshairs of a transformational way of thinking about mobility and transportation," Travis asserted. "Hopefully, those communities will also be the beneficiaries of some of those jobs."

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