By Leah Craig
The Livingston County Chamber Alliance hosted a panel of speakers, experts in their fields, to demystify and explore the topic of electric vehicles.
Almost 20 years ago, there was a great debate at General Motors over whether manufacturers should continue to outfit vehicles with the then-standard cigarette-lighter outlet or transition to USB ports for phone chargers. It’s this pattern of innovation and ingenuity that has inspired General Motors and DTE to partner, expand their informational platform, reach out to the community, and educate potential consumers on EVs.
From a program management perspective, GM seeks to prioritize the needs of their customers, primarily in the form of value, convenience, and functionality. Amy Jasky, GM’s manager of Program Engineering, highlighted the goal to create vehicles that fit any and all lifestyles. The key is providing a wide assortment of customizations and options for style and efficiency.
There is, however, a stigma associated with the price of EVs. The GM Bolt, for example, is approximately $30,000, making it a rather sizeable investment for the average consumer. However, Pablo Valencia, GM Senior Manager of Intelligent Charging Systems, was quick to point out the areas where transitioning to an EV actually has the potential to save the consumer money. When analyzing the total cost of ownership, an EV requires less service– the brakes don’t wear out as quickly, oil changes are required less frequently, and gas is nonessential.
Additionally, Valencia estimated that an average vehicle is at rest 95% of the time. In the case of an EV, this provides an opportunity to harness and utilize this stored energy. From acting as a generator during a power outage to providing a stationary charging place for phones, laptops, and more, this stationary storage is virtually limitless in its potential uses.
Through a series of continuing upgrades, DTE has the capacity and technology to facilitate the implementation of EV technology in both residential and commercial scenarios.
“Chiefly, we want to remove barriers to electrification, and that is mainly through education and awareness,” said Isabelle Brogna, an IEV Strategist at DTE. From there, the goal is to transition into the grid, pilot new tech, and create a platform for more equitable access to electric vehicles. DTE and its strategists, Brogna added, are “dedicated to a safe and seamless transition.”
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the electric vehicle is its adaptability: it can be programmed to identify trends, schedules, and driving ranges of the individual consumer. And while the vehicle’s range depends on the destination, it facilitates independent, guided decisions in order to further maximize range and battery life. The Energy Assist App, which works for most EVs regardless of brand, also maps out the locations of chargers as a means of increased accessibility.
While charging stations are becoming more common, they’re not yet commonplace. Local dealerships have partnered with GM and DTE to fulfill their goal of “having at least two EV chargers at key dealerships in our community.”
Sarah Cohen, GM’s Chief Engineer of EV Charging Systems, stated that the crux of the matter lies in the hands of the consumers and the community. But these community partnerships– between GM and DTE and local dealerships– is a means of “moving change” through education.