Electric Road Trip

Rivian brings Midwest hope, tracking emissions, joy-riding nuns

We've rolled a lot of asphalt beneath our wheels this week on the Electric Road Trip. Starting in Tennessee, we dashed north to Detroit and the troubled heart of the auto industry. And did we use a lot of cars! In Indianapolis, a French Bolloré left us unimpressed. Then we tested two EVs — the BMW i3 and the Kia Niro — on a sprint to Columbus.

In Detroit, visiting union workers, we made sure to show up in a Chevy Bolt. Electric vehicles contributed to strife on the picket lines while also raising hopes that the new world of mobility would deliver a better day. Which brings us to this week's big story out of central Illinois, where Rivian has set up shop.

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Rivian, the latest darling of the U.S. auto industry, is retooling an idled Mitsubishi plant in central Illinois to make electric trucks and SUVs. Optimism abounds in the town of Normal, where the plant's revival could reinvigorate manufacturing.

See the full-length story in Energywire.

TOP STOPS

NAZARETH, Ky. — One of our most-read posts of the week introduced the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who have moved to all-electric cars as a part of their mission to help clean the air. Sister Molly Thompson confides that she secretly finds the accelerator pedal quite a thrill.

Emissions check — This week we unveiled a new feature of the Electric Road Trip: a comparison of our carbon emissions as we roll from state to state. How much climate pollution comes from a tailpipe versus a battery? How much does an EV pollute in Texas compared to Georgia? The answers are here.

DETROIT — We plugged in at Motown's first public fast chargers, part of a project led by DTE Energy Co., the city's major utility, and General Motors. If we've learned anything, it's the value of fast charging on a tight schedule.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — You arrive at your hotel to find the chargers don't work. But one is available at a nearby hotel where you're not a guest. What do you do? Reporters Jeff Tomich and Peter Behr confronted this ethical dilemma, one that will become more common as EVs catch on.

ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

Texas is one of dozens of states where the electric car market struggles because of fragmented fuel-economy and emissions rules. E&E News

America's next big recycling problem: what to do with batteries used by electric cars. E&E News

The first stand-alone gasoline station to convert fully to charging electric cars opened in Maryland. E&E News

Nissan has introduced a new all-electric, self-parking city car that will be on display at this month's Tokyo Motor Show. Automotive News

Congo is using data-driven tools to show that cobalt, a critical mineral in many electric car batteries, isn't sourced using child labor and corrupt practices. Reuters

NEXT TURN

The coming week will be some of the trip's toughest sledding. A gallop across Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota will lead us to North Dakota, a state with almost no charging stations.

We will traverse the Great Plains in the little 200-mile chunks that the battery of our Kia permits us. Honestly, we're not sure if we'll even make it to Montana. Watch it happen on Facebook and our blog, which has gotten a great new look.

Electric Road Trip

E&E News reporters take a 6,000-mile road trip in an electric vehicle to explore how the switch from gas to electric transportation will change the economy, environment and daily life of America.
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