Michigan's 'truck stop of the future' to be built in Redford

What’s happening: The future is coming to Redford, Michigan. That’s because the 130-acre Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) facility near I-96 has been selected as the site for Michigan’s Mobility Charging Hub pilot program, or what’s also being called the “truck stop of the future” by state officials.

What it is: The Mobility Charging Hub is a multi-phase initiative intended to better facilitate companies in their quest to transition their fleets to electric commercial vehicles (EVs). The first phase will see the installation of core infrastructure necessary for charging commercial EVs, which will also be made available to passenger EVs. That infrastructure will be operated by DTE Energy and includes EV charging stations, solar canopies, battery energy storage systems, and more. Subsequent phases will utilize the space as a testing ground for further innovations in technology and business.

Location, location, location: The DTNA site in Redford was selected for a number of reasons, including its proximity to I-96 and the state’s border with Canada; Michigan makes for 30 percent of truck and rail freight traffic between Canada and the U.S. DTNA’s existing infrastructure also plays a role, with it already being equipped with the necessary power supply and its existing workforce training programs for EVs being two key factors.

How they’re doing it: A web of public and private partnerships and funding. That includes the state’s partners at DTNA and DTE, $13 million in public funding, and an $8.5 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant award from the federal government. The RAISE grant was awarded to Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, and Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) will use that money to establish its own grant program to help fund future phases at the site.

Why it’s important: “Michigan’s ability to retain its global position as the automotive capital of the world depends in part on our ability to attract and retain industry, as well as move goods domestically and across our nearby active international borders,” Kathryn Snorrason, Interim Chief Mobility Officer of the State of Michigan, says in a statement. “This new innovation hub will help preserve Michigan’s position in the automotive sector while allowing us to address emerging fleet management technologies.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.