Electric vehicle (EV) adoption rates continue to rise, and EV charging stations are rolling out across most of the country. But progress on charging station construction is not uniform, and EV ownership and accessible charging while travelling through different states can vary significantly.
If you are an EV owner traveling through or living in Michigan, it is essential to understand how EV charging in Michigan works. This article provides tips and information to assist your travel planning and home EV charger installation efforts, so you can enjoy seamless EV ownership and travel in the Great Lakes State.
Michigan EV charging availability varies across the state, especially as the state is still in the early stages of broadening its EV network. Carefully planning your trip ahead of time is essential, such as considering the range of your EV and the location and distance between EV charging stations in Michigan. Taking advantage of overnight charging while travelling can improve your experience, but understanding the current EV charging infrastructure can help inform your travel plans to optimize your trip.
There are 4,829 EV chargers in the state, and most of these public EV chargers are Level 2. Fast charging may be hard to find with a scarcity of Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC) in the state. Even so, with lower adoptions rates in the state, there was only one charger for every seven drivers in Michigan as of late 2022.
Michigan is diligently working to catch up, with its Future Mobility Plan calling for 100,000 more EV charging stations by 2030. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) plans to install four 150 kW or larger charging stations every 50 miles, starting with the seven major highways in the state (I-69, I-75, I-94, I-96, I-196, I-275, I-696). The emphasis for these chargers is on DCFCs for speedy charging along major transit routes.
Michigan needs more chargers to catch up to other states. Most existing DCFCs are concentrated in the Lower Peninsula, and only eight of these high-powered chargers are scattered across the Upper Peninsula. At this time, approximately 16% of Michigan’s 17,000 EV owners live within 10 minutes of a DCFC charger and is a major contributing factor on the state’s emphasis for DCFC charging stations to address this issue.
The landmark federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) of 2022 provided Michigan with $110 million to install EV chargers along the state’s major highways, translating to around 12,000 chargers per year. The U.S. Department of Transportation has already approved the state’s EV plan, as required by the BIL, but building this public infrastructure will take time.
To counteract this and encourage greater adoption of this technology, Michigan is also offering incentives for DC Fast Charger stations. For example, the Charge Up Michigan Program reimburses up to $70,000 toward the DC Fast Chargers project cost to qualified public or private applicants. This program’s reimbursement for DCFC offers a matching amount for available utility rebates, meaning even greater savings for eligible applicants. For example, a $70,000 rebate is offered by Consumers’ Energy, a prominent Michigan utility.
As Michigan progresses with its EV charging stations program build-out, EV travels across the state will demand driver creativity and research, but successful trips are achievable. The key for travel across the state is knowing your EV’s range based on its actual performance, as factors such as your driving style, speed, and even weather conditions or tire pressure can impact how your vehicle performs. By taking these factors into accounts, you can look up the charging stations along your routes and plan your stops accordingly to avoid running out of power.
Some EVs display charging stations near you in real time, making life easier. If your EV does not have that feature, there are several sources you can use to find EV charging stations along your route.
The U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuel Station Finder is a great place to begin.
There are also several smartphone apps, both for charger network-specific, and others that are not limited to the provider. Digital Trends.com, a well-regarded technology authority, rates the top five as follows:
Another attractive alternative is Apple Maps. Connecting with Apple Car Play allows your to access EV trip-planning support, including routing and charging station locations. When connected, you can also monitor your EV’s charging status. While this is only available on Ford Mach-E at this time, a wider roll-out of the technology is coming.
If you are staying at a hotel, check if they have charging stations – a convenient option for overnight charging. Also, look for “out-of-the-box” venues, such as department stores or movie theaters. By incorporating these venues into your trip, you can make the most of your time by efficiently charging as you enjoy a meal, shop, or visit an attraction across the state. The author recently found an EV charging station prominently displayed in a movie theater parking lot.
You will need to remember charging time constraints when planning your trip. The fastest charger is a DCFC which takes between 20 minutes to one hour to charge an EV from 20% to 80%. Keep in mind that these are the recommended parameters for the long-term health of your EV battery.
Michigan currently has 200 Level 3 or DCFC charging stations but is working diligently to increase that amount. The existing DCFC charging stations are typically confined to commercial projects with extensive electrical infrastructure and high initial costs, but much of the planned expansion is on major highways. Regular use of DCFC can reduce battery capacity over time, so strategically plan to use the chargers only when necessary, and supplement with Level 2 chargers where possible.
The next fastest option is a Level 2 charger. Charging an EV from 20% to 80% typically takes four to ten hours at these charging stations. They require a relatively low infrastructure and dedicated 240V circuit, making them affordable and convenient for residences.
Level 3 and Level 2 are the only practical options for time-constrained travelers. Unfortunately, Level 1 chargers, which can take 40-50 hours to charge an EV from 20% to 80% are not ideal for powering an EV with regular commuting or during travel. These charging stations require only a simple 120V receptacle at almost no cost but are not helpful for travelers when time is at a premium. That said, they can come in handy for emergency situations and it is recommended to travel with a Level 1 charger to “top off” with enough range to make it to a faster charger, should you need it.
Most EV owners want the convenience and low cost of at-home charging. The key to having a home charging station over public charging lies in charging your car at night while you sleep, so there’s no wasted time waiting at a charging station.
You’ll minimize energy costs by home charging at night during utility off-peak hours at rates lower than during peak hours, with no station markups. With home charging, you may never have to depend on public charging, resulting in lower costs, greater convenience, and more control.
Remember: A Level 2 charger is the best choice in almost all cases. Level 1 is slow, and DCFS Level 3 requires costly DC infrastructure that is not practical in residential areas and frequent use of DCFC can shorten battery life.
There are no current Michigan state incentives for EVs, but a state rebate of $500 for a single-family Level 2 or DCFC home charger station and up to $7,500 per multifamily property charging station exists. Additionally, many utilities and local governments offer incentives on EVs, chargers, and EV charger installations to customers in their markets, in addition to state-wide and federal programs. With certain conditions on project labor, federal government incentives provide up to $100,000 per commercial charger installed and up to a $1,000 tax credit per residential charger. Your auto maker may also offer discounts or credits toward the installation on an EV charger, further boosting your savings for switching to an electric vehicle.
There is a federal tax credit of $7,500 for new EVs, with certain conditions. For used EVs, the distinction is up to $4,000. Be sure to check with your tax expert on the details and see if you qualify.
Keep climate in mind for your EV. Michigan temperatures range from 17°F to 82°F and are rarely below 0°F or above 90°F. Temperatures outside these ranges can affect your charging speed and duration and cause planning constraints. Check your owner’s manual for instructions.
While Michigan works hard to catch up with ambitious plans to expand its EV network, EV travel across the state requires adequate planning. The ongoing rollout of DCFC chargers will eventually help this situation, but you need to be prepared until that progresses. Plan your trip accordingly, and research all the planning aids covered in this article. The good news is that a successful journey is achievable,
Because most of Michigan’s charging stations will be located near major highways, consider the convenience and reliability of home charging instead of depending on public charging. Be sure to look into state, federal, and utility incentives that will reduce your project costs.
With the ever-changing EV world, it pays to get an expert, reliable installer for your EV charging project. Qmerit is the most trusted electrification installer in North America. With over 269,000 charging stations and our network of certified installers, we are the experts in electrification. We have a deep knowledge of incentives and will find all you are entitled to. Contact us to learn how Qmerit can help you.