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Governors Tony Evers (D-WI) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) announced plans this week with two other Midwest states to design a scenic route along Lake Michigan for electric vehicles (EVs), which currently make up less than 1% of all vehicles on the road in the U.S.
The 1,100-mile route near the Great Lake’s shoreline is being heralded as an “eco-tourism attraction” and will include numerous EV charging stations to make the scenic drive convenient for EV owners. The so-called “electric Route 66” will connect major cities and tourist attractions, such as Chicago, Milwaukee, and Traverse City, Michigan.
Evers celebrated the plan as a win for the environment. “Making our beautiful coastal communities not only more accessible to EVs but protecting them through lower emissions is a win-win for Wisconsin,” the Wisconsin governor said. “We’re proud to support this multi-state partnership as we work to implement our first-ever Clean Energy Plan and continue our efforts to bolster Wisconsin’s tourism industry.”
Evers and Whitmer will join forces with J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) and Eric Holcomb (R-IN) on the project dubbed the “Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour” that could cost up to $4 million.
In a previously signed Memorandum of Understanding, the four neighboring states said that one of the objectives of the EV route was to “support organizations to build, maintain, and encourage use of a robust EV tourism attraction around Lake Michigan.”
Michigan’s Democratic governor first announced the “Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour” last September at the Mackinac Policy Conference. At the time, the project was estimated to cost between $3.5 and $4 million, according to GovTech.com.
Whitmer said the EV route will help bolster the state’s economy and provide more jobs for autoworkers while giving EV drivers the option to travel longer distances.
“Today, Michigan is proud to lead the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit Tour, a partnership between fellow Midwestern states to grow our economy, create more good-paying jobs, and lead the future of mobility and electrification,” Whitmer said in a statement released Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s largest employer, Ford, was reportedly preparing last month to cut thousands of jobs to help the company fund its EV projects. It was unclear how many of those cuts would affect Michigan-based jobs.
In March, Ford admitted that its EV project would not be profitable until at least 2025 when its next generation models come out. Ford CEO Jim Farley also said at a conference in February that EV portfolios were “under-earning.”