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Thursday, November 10, 2022
Electrified school district transportation, purpose-built infrastructure and first-of-its-kind drone delivery services will help revolutionize what mobility means for Michigan residents.
LANSING, Mich. – Today, the state of Michigan announced that three companies will receive $260,000 in total funding through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP) to test and deploy mobility projects across the state. With these grants, Michigan will enable new mobility solutions that help address challenges related to school bus emissions, decaying mobility infrastructure and last-mile deliveries, all while reducing on-road miles, emissions, traffic, accidents and noise.
“Shaping the next generation of mobility solutions means developing more than just automobiles. It means future-proofing our roads and bridges, as well as ensuring that our alternate and last-mile mobility solutions can support the areas where we live, work, visit and play,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Today’s investments are an important step toward helping Michigan continue to lead the future of mobility and electrification with its communities and residents in mind.”
In partnership with key startups, local, state and federal officials, three companies – Evenergi, HiPer Fiber and Workhorse Group, Inc. – will receive funding to address mobility challenges across the state.
"We are pleased to support this latest round of grant recipients because they will play key roles in Michigan’s comprehensive approach to mobility solutions development beyond the individual automobile,” said Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer at the State of Michigan. "The continued success of the MMFP grant program is critical to our mission of deploying the next generation of safe, efficient and sustainable mobility technologies that address the unique challenges of Michigan’s diverse population.”
Launched by the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the MMFP focuses on catalyzing and scaling mobility solutions that improve environmental sustainability by encouraging electric vehicle (EV) adoption and charging infrastructure buildout, increasing access to affordable and reliable transportation options, and modernizing existing transportation systems. OFME, in partnership with Charge Up Michigan and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), reviews and administers the grant applications, which are accepted on a rolling basis at michiganbusiness.org/mobility-funding.
Today’s announcement represents the latest in a series of grants awarded through the MMFP. This round of MMFP grant recipients include:
Evenergi ($30,000 - Lansing and Grand Rapids)
School buses travel about 4 billion miles each year, providing the safest transportation to and from school for more than 25 million American children every day. Electric school buses appear to be a great use-case for fully electric vehicles, as they would increase the adoption of zero emissions vehicles while supporting Michigan’s climate change mitigation goals. However, range anxiety and infrastructure limitations are of paramount concern while considering the transition to zero emissions school buses.
Evenergi is tackling the challenge of transitioning to electric school buses with its software platform, BetterFleet. While early zero-emission bus pilots underway are a promising initial step, the next steps beyond these pilots – including the viability of widespread deployments – have yet to be deeply explored.
With the assistance of MMFP funding, and in partnership with Dean Transportation, Evenergi’s BetterFleet will create a ‘digital twin’ of Dean Transportation’s fleet of approximately 250 school buses in Lansing and Grand Rapids. Based on findings from this work, BetterFleet will help Dean Transportation address challenges related to its fleet’s electrification and model new potential revenue streams so that Dean Transportation may lease its charging infrastructure to other fleet operators. Ultimately, this system will help to pave the way for the broader electrification of school district transportation in Michigan.
“We are excited to identify actionable electrification opportunities alongside our project partner, Dean Transportation, an early leader in the adoption of green technologies,” said Sasha Pejcic, Managing Partner in North America of BetterFleet. “Our desire is that this project will be an inspiration and catalyst for other fleet electrification initiatives in Michigan, leading to cleaner, healthier communities.”
HiPer Fiber ($115,000 - St. Clair Township)
While bridges are typically built to last 50-70 years, a 2020 analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation National Bridge Inventory found that the number of structurally deficient bridges nationally is more than 45,000 and that the number of bridges falling from good into fair condition grew to almost 295,000. To combat declining infrastructure, Michigan has set out to fix the state’s roads by investing 70% more into roads since 2019 than the previous four years to fix over 16,000 lane miles of road and 1,200 bridges.
Now, HiPer Fiber, a company that manufactures advanced steel fibers – which are a key ingredient in ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) – aims to help resource-constrained communities in Michigan maintain their bridges for up to 150 years and eliminate decaying infrastructure. The project aligns with the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which promotes infrastructure equity as a means to address historic disparities in community development and investment.
Lack of transportation promotes poverty, which further hinders the renewal of transportation systems. An equitable future for Michigan communities requires highly durable bridges that, once built, are long-lived and low maintenance. With durability up to seven times as much as regular concrete, UHPC bridge decks are expected to last up to 150 years with minimal repairs. This contrasts with current concrete technology, which leaves bridge decks to require frequent maintenance.
With the assistance of MMFP funding, and in partnership with the St. Clair County Road Commission, HiPer Fiber will showcase the potential of UHPC with the construction of a bridge in St. Clair County. This project is designed to encourage the use of UHPC across the state in building next-generation transportation infrastructure.
"UHCP will provide the always-pristine transportation infrastructure that future automated vehicles need to drive on," said Sherif El-Tawil, CEO of HiPer Fiber. “We look forward to working with the MEDC and other partners to build the long-lasting bridge technology of the future, right here in Michigan.”
Workhorse Group, Inc. ($115,000 – Western Michigan)
While last-mile deliveries are critical to ensuring Americans receive the medical supplies and packages they need, they are also among the largest contributors to carbon emissions globally. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, there will be a 36% increase in delivery fleets in 100 major cities throughout the world, resulting in a 30% increase in carbon emissions – making the development of cleaner, sustainable last-mile delivery alternatives a key priority.
Workhorse Group Inc. (“Workhorse”), a manufacturer of medium-duty commercial EVs, all-electric remotely piloted aircrafts and software-driven solutions, aims to connect communities and demonstrate new commercial pathways for carbon-free, on-demand and last-mile deliveries through one of the first ground and air projects of its kind in West Michigan.
With the assistance of MMFP funding, Workhorse has partnered with key organizations, including Airspace Link and regional partners to deploy a combination of commercial EVs and all-electric small uncrewed aerial systems (sUAS) that will complete last-mile deliveries while reducing on-road miles, emissions, traffic, accidents and noise. Ultimately, the program will result in new last-mile delivery pathways that will improve access in Michigan’Tpo s communities to faster, more sustainable and lower cost on-demand medical supply and package delivery.
“At Workhorse, we are honored to help the state of Michigan revolutionize the last-mile delivery sector,” said Rick Dauch, CEO of Workhorse Group Inc. “Our vision ‘to pioneer the transition to zero-emission commercial vehicles’ and the launch of our advanced Engineering and Design Center capabilities in Wixom are key enablers to Michigan’s Future Mobility Plan.”
To learn more about how Michigan is leading in transportation mobility and electrification, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/mobility.
About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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