Illinois joins three other states to create an electric vehicle charging loop along Lake Michigan's scenic coastal path

Illinois has joined three other states to build an 1,100-mile electric vehicle charging loop along Lake Michigan, creating a scenic tourist route with enough power to take electric vehicles from boiling fish in Green Bay to picking cherries. in Travers City.

The Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour will incorporate existing charging infrastructure with new chargers strategically located in key waterfront communities, lighthouses, state parks, breweries and other popular tourist attractions along the coastal route. Construction is expected to be completed in the next few years.

The agreement between Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan follows the tourism initiative announced last year by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to create the EV loop around Lake Michigan. Dubbed an “Electric Route 66” by participating states, the loop encompasses everything from the urban bustle of Chicago to the pastoral splendor of Mackinac Island, Michigan, where motorized vehicles are not allowed and power is still measured. on real horses.

“The Great Lakes are the crown jewel of the upper Midwest, and this initiative proudly combines our clean energy goals with the natural beauty that draws countless visitors each year,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement. press release on Wednesday.

Sales of electric vehicles, which accounted for 2.6% of the US car market in 2021, are forecast to nearly double this year to a 5% market share, according to the car shopping website Edmunds. Demand has been buoyed by rising gasoline prices, but EV makers like Rivian, which builds electric trucks at its downstate Normal plant, are struggling with supply chain issues that have affected world car production.

The revived climate bill proposed by Democrats in the Senate last week would extend the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicle buyers, an additional incentive that is phased out after a manufacturer has sold 200,000 electric vehicles. The proposed bill also imposes a cap that would make electric vehicles priced over $80,000 ineligible for the tax credit, raising concerns at California-based Rivian, whose inaugural R1T pickup and R1S SUV may be too expensive to qualify under the new rules.

While electric vehicle manufacturing is gearing up, consumer adoption has a long way to go to reach Pritzker’s goal of 1 million electric vehicles in the state by 2030. There are currently 46,645 electric vehicles registered in Illinois, or fewer. 1% of the 10.3 million vehicles in the state. , according to Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois secretary of state’s office.

Building public charging infrastructure remains a priority for broader EV deployment and a concern for owners planning a trip to the North Woods or other remote destinations.

There are 56,738 public charging stations in the US, including 1,484 in Illinois, according to the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels website. The network is much less developed for fast-charging stations, where drivers can charge Complete your vehicles in 15 to 45 minutes, with 6,442 stations in the US and 143 in Illinois.

An April study by Chicago-based car-shopping app CoPilot shows that the four states that have come together on the Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour are lagging behind in both EV adoption and charging infrastructure. Indiana ranked 37th, Wisconsin 36th, Michigan 31st and Illinois 19th on the list, led by California.

rchannick@chicagotribune.com

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