Two of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s major policy initiatives — doubling down on electric vehicles and “fixing the damn roads”  — are working at cross purposes based on recently revealed insights from structural engineers.

Four engineers weighed in on the impact of emerging EV technology on existing infrastructure. The engineers sounded their alarm in a recent edition of trade publication Structure Magazine.

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“The excitement about sleek, powerful and futuristic EVs has over-shadowed the fundamental fact that EVs weigh significantly more than equivalent-sized combustion engine vehicles,” the engineers wrote. “While EVs have much smaller and lighter motors than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts’ engines, they typically use heavy lithium-ion batteries that add substantial weight to an EV’s drivetrain.”

The lithium-ion batteries that are a common building block of EVs and their power are typically at least 1,000 pounds and, at times, weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, as evidenced by the one installed within GMC’s Hummer EV truck.

By contrast, the internal combustion engines that power many gas-powered vehicles have weights ranging from 300 pounds to 700 pounds.

The expert revelations could challenge Whitmer’s investments into EVs and road improvements that were center stage in 2023.

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In December, Whitmer announced the Michigan Economic Development Corporation had doled out $10 million in a performance-based grant through the state’s taxpayer-funded Michigan Strategic Fund.

MEDC’s financial award is being applied to Scout Motors’ new research and development facility in Novi.

In the midst of her ongoing road, bridges and other infrastructure initiative, Whitmer in a news release said the Michigan Department of Transportation was poised to close out 2023 with the repair or replacement of 200,000 lane miles of state-owned roads and 1,400 bridges since taking office.

Jason Hayes, director of energy and environmental policy with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told The Midwesterner the expert insight into EVs should give policymakers pause.

“The record for EVs is becoming increasingly clear,” Hayes said. “Higher costs, greater weight, extended charging times, range issues, difficulty dealing with extreme heat and cold, dependence on rare metals and minerals and a host of supply chain struggles make it clear that they are not the transportation silver bullet that we were promised. There are also unintended consequences as a result of many of these issues, including safety problems and undue stress on infrastructure, as well as increased environmental impacts due to mining for critical minerals.”

Hayes added, “The challenge with EVs is that government policies are mandating EVs take the lead in transportation long before the technology is ready to meet the challenge. As is typically the case, government selecting winners and losers in markets inevitably leads to inefficiency, higher costs, and diminished reliability. Government should admit that they have stepped in it (again), back off, and allow customer needs (and the markets that supply those needs) to set the tone for the nation’s transportation needs.”