The country is at the cusp of another automotive revolution and this time the state of Michigan and Michigan State University will be at its epicenter.
So proclaimed Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II during a mobility roundtable discussion at MSU’s College of Engineering on April 20. Gilchrist joined MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. along with industry and academic leaders to discuss the state’s commitment to develop electric vehicles and mobility, which MSU and other universities are training and preparing students for in their curriculum.
“Today, Michigan has an opportunity to lead the future mobility revolution,” Gilchrist said. “Governor Whitmer and I are working hard to invest in forward-leaning mobility solutions that will ensure that the future of the mobility industry is set by innovators in Michigan. We will work with anyone to grow our economy and create jobs and prosperity in communities across our state.”
“MSU is proud to be a place where we are preparing the world’s next generation of thinkers and doers — leaders who will help our state maintain and further its mobility prowess,” Stanley said.
Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said mobility initiatives are one more way for engineering students to get their hands a little dirty while putting their theoretical knowledge to work.
“We are constantly reshaping our program to move closer to what our corporate partners are looking for,” Kempel said. “We’re also working on a statewide analysis to decide on the best places to put charging stations to have the maximum impact. It’s one more way we’re contributing to this evolution.”
At the event, MSU showcased its Spartan green Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle, which was adapted by students for the Society of Automotive Engineers AutoDrive Challenge. Standing alongside the Bolt on display was a scooter and an electric charging station from KUHMUTE, a multi-modal charging network manufacturer for micromobility located in Flint.
“In 2018, we started KUHMUTE to increase accessibility and sustainability for how people move in the ‘first and last mile’ with a charging network for anything smaller than a car,” said Peter Deppe, co-founder and CEO of KUHMUTE. “Our charging network that is agnostic to electric scooters, electric bikes, wheelchairs and delivery robots enables communities to choose the mode of transportation that is most convenient for their trip and abilities,” he added.
Industry representative Bollinger Motors brought a polished, gray EV to show off the company’s all-electric future of mobility as a Michigan-based company.
“The great work being done by Michigan’s colleges and universities, like MSU, to educate tomorrow’s workforce in sought-after skills and engage in the research and development of innovative mobility solutions were part of my decision to move Bollinger Motors to Michigan,” said Robert Bollinger, founder and CEO of Bollinger Motors. “We have an incredible mobility and technology ecosystem here. Bollinger Motors is proud to be working alongside MSU in its efforts, and we look forward to announcing a few additional partnerships here in Michigan soon.”
Gilchrist said that Michigan’s future of mobility includes large investments like GM’s $7 billion investment in Lansing and Orion Township to build electric vehicle batteries, creating 4,000 jobs. Last month, the Building Michigan Together Plan invested $25 million in the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification Office through the Mobility Futures Initiative. Additionally, more than $45 million was invested through Charge Up Michigan to improve the infrastructure for Michigan’s electric vehicle charging network.
“We are striving to put more electric vehicles in garages around the state,” Gilchrist added, noting that his family is currently on their third EV.