Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Governor Whitmer, Congresspeople gather at ribbon cutting for $200 million state incentive

Gretchen_Whitmer_Portrait.jpg
CJH1452000
/

The governor, congresspeople, and other lawmakers gathered in Novi on Thursday, October 20, to cut the ribbon on a project approved for over $200 million in state incentives.

The electric vehicle battery maker “Our Next Energy” plans to spend over a billion dollars on a new operation in Wayne County and other regional investment. A spending bill signed last month that fed money into a fund for attracting large-scale projects freed up money for the incentives.

Company founder Mujeeb Ijaz says the state’s commitment to renewable energy and its workforce made it appealing.

"The talent that we have access to in this state is really unlike any other," Ijaz said. "Automotive, ecosystem, supply chain, quality, manufacturing, bringing all of that together. We’re then not just one company, we get to leverage partners all around us. As we build this first factory, we’re going to need that."

Ijaz says his company plans to have a prototype of a new battery meant to significantly extend vehicle range completed by the end of next year.

Executive analyst with Cox Automotive Michelle Krebs says the company’s promise of a “very long range” and lower price could set it apart.

"When we do surveys of people of why they do not buy EVs, the cost of the vehicle, which is largely made up of the cost of the battery is the biggest hindrance, along with the range and the EV charging infrastructure," Krebs said.

Following the ribbon cutting, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she wants to restock the fund again.

“This is a critical component to our ability to build future industry here to secure our economy for future generations and make sure we’re on the cutting edge," Whitmer said. "If you’re not aggressive today, you may never recover.”

Critics of the program question whether the money would be better spent elsewhere.