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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer directs state government vehicle fleet to go electric

Craig Mauger, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

LANSING, Michigan — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive Tuesday requiring the state government to convert its fleet of cars and trucks to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

The move would mark a significant change for Michigan departments, which have more than 8,000 vehicles. Currently, only three of them are electric vehicles, Whitmer's spokesman Bobby Leddy said Tuesday. In a press release, Whitmer, a Democrat, said her directive will reduce air pollution, help boost demand for Michigan-made electric vehicles and lower fuel costs.

"Michigan automakers are on the cutting-edge of the world’s switch to zero emission vehicles, and with today’s executive directive to transition our state-owned fleet by 2040, the State of Michigan is leading by example," added Whitmer, who is set to leave office because of term limits at the end of 2026.

Under the new directive, Michigan government agencies have to begin transitioning away from traditional gas-powered vehicles and develop policies "to promote the immediate use" of zero-emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles that use batteries or fuel cells powered by hydrogen.

State government's light-duty vehicles would have to be converted to zero-emission vehicles by 2033, 10 years from now, according to the executive directive. State government's medium- and heavy-duty vehicles would have be converted by 2040.

State government's fleet featured about 8,800 on-road vehicles, according to a 2021 report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. It wasn't immediately clear what the up-front costs of transitioning the fleet would be.

The governor's executive directive allowed for exceptions to the new standards "for specific state fleet vehicles."

"Exceptions shall be disfavored and, when requesting an exception, the requesting agency shall consider alternate decarbonization strategies for reducing fleet emissions, including, but not limited to, biofuels and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles," the directive said.

 

Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, touted the new zero-emission vehicle policy in a statement released by Whitmer's office.

"We encourage the state to purchase union-made EVs for all state vehicles, giving America’s autoworkers their fair share of this historic moment for the American auto industry," Fain said.

The directive came a day after General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra said her company still had a plan in place to be all electric by 2035 despite being "disappointed" with where the Detroit automaker is in its EV ramp-up. But Barra said GM will adapt its plans based on customer demand.

Nationally, electric vehicle sales are expected to hit a record 9% of all new passenger vehicles in the U.S. this year, according to Atlas Public Policy, the Associated Press reported last month.

Whitmer has aggressively pursued electric vehicle manufacturing projects in her second term and last week signed legislation that will impose a new 100% clean energy standard for utilities to hit by 2040.

(Staff Writer Kalea Hall contributed.)


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