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Danny Garrett: Electric vehicle revolution supplies good news for Alabama’s future

By State Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville

Electric vehicle announcements came fast and furious in the last year as major automobile manufacturers announced plans to accelerate electrification.

Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are planning to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2030 and General Motors is preparing to go fully electric by 2035. Honda targets 2040 as the date to be all-electric while Toyota has announced 70 electrified models will be available from all its brands by 2025. Ford is investing $29 billion in EVs through 2025 and is releasing its F-150 Lightning pick-up truck in 2022.

According to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, automakers across the country are putting some $250 billion toward EV development. Likewise, Alabama automakers have announced a conservative estimate of $1.88 billion in new investments aimed at advanced vehicle technologies since 2018.

The message is clear: The electric vehicle revolution is here.

The good news is that the Alabama Legislature, along with Gov. Kay Ivey and her administration, recognize this certain and imminent shift and we are preparing Alabama to continue in its role as a national auto-manufacturing leader. This effort is vitally important for Alabama jobs and Alabama’s economy.

In July, Gov. Ivey announced the Alabama Mobility and Power (AMP) Initiative, a collaborative effort of the University of Alabama, Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International to create a research and development hub for electric vehicles. The new facility, housed at the university and supported with $16.5 million in funding from the Alabama Public School and College Authority, is expected to produce “future leaders in the electrification of the transportation network,” according to a university news release.

That’s good news for the state.

Just a month earlier, Gov. Ivey and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) unveiled $4.1 million in funding to install electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. The plan funds 18 projects, but ADECA received 76 requests that totaled about $18.7 million. This new investment, partially funded via legislative appropriations, will double the number of available fast-charging stations in the state.

Supply is meeting Alabama’s growing demand. That’s more good news for the state.

Don’t forget about creation of the Alabama Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan, which involved ADECA, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, the Energy Institute of Alabama and various other partners to establish short- and long-term goals for the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations.

The Legislature also created the Alabama Innovation Corporation, which is designed to support and bolster entrepreneurship, rural businesses, research and development, and access to advanced technical skills – all of which impacts the electric vehicle sector.

That’s even more good news for the state.

It’s also precisely the kind of innovative planning and forward thinking needed to maintain the state’s standing as one of America’s top states for automobile manufacturing and exports. The automobile sector supplies more than 40,000 jobs, and more are on the way.

The Mazda Toyota plant in Huntsville will eventually employ about 4,000 people. Madison Metal Processing will begin supplying steel parts to Mazda Toyota later this year.

At the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County, the first all-electric SUVs are scheduled to roll off the assembly line in 2022, and we’re anxiously awaiting Hyundai’s decision regarding if and how the Montgomery plant will be a part of their $7.4 billion U.S. investment in EVs.

Mercedes is also almost complete with the build out of an electric battery factory in Bibb County, and Westwater Resources has announced a processing plant in Coosa County that will be in operation by the end of 2022 and will produce graphite, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries used in EVs.

Right here in Alabama, the advancement of EVs isn’t about a “Green New Deal”; it’s about jobs, the people of our great state and our economy.

Alabama’s leaders are planning for that future, and that’s definitely good news for our state.

Danny Garrett is a member of the Alabama House of Representatives representing District 44. Rep. Garrett currently serves as the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Budget Committee.

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