According to a study by MICHauto, an economic development initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber there are 2,200 automotive facilities statewide. They include OEMs, suppliers, tool-and-die shops, R&D facilities, and technical centers. “Michigan leads the nation in automotive ‘concept to consumer’ expertise,” says Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber. “The data provides a clear understanding of the true automotive technical ecosystem in our state and definitively concludes that Michigan is the epicenter of mobility innovation.”
One out of every five auto-manufacturing jobs in the United States is in Michigan, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wayne County alone has more auto manufacturing jobs than any state except Kentucky. Michigan also ranks fourth in total manufacturing jobs of any type, behind California, Texas and Ohio.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Kevin Kerrigan, Senior Vice President, Automotive Office at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, how the PlanetM initiative has helped establish the State as an ideal destination for automotive investments.
Kerrigan: Mobility has the power to transform the way society moves and Michigan is playing a significant role in introducing the technology that will influence how people and goods will be transported in the future. We have the resources, talent and services
available to businesses, researchers and entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact on the next transportation frontier.
PlanetM has worked to grow Michigan’s automotive and mobility ecosystem by providing entrepreneurs and businesses the resources to develop and validate their mobility technologies in Michigan. It has helped start-ups navigate the dense automotive
cluster and simplified the process for businesses to make the right connections with buyers and suppliers through services provided by the Landing Zone powered by PlanetM and the Detroit Regional Chamber.
And it has helped foster a highly collaborative environment with partners from the public and private sectors – both in the
southeast Michigan region and across the state – that sets Michigan apart from other states.
AI: How is the MEDC and partner institutions promoting Michigan as a preferred home for the development of
the next wave of automotive technology?
Kerrigan: The great thing about PlanetM is that it is a collaborative effort between the state, including MEDC and MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation), local partners at Oakland County, the Detroit Regional Chamber and Ann Arbor Spark, educational institutions such as University of Michigan and Michigan State University and other partners such as The American Center for Mobility and Automation Alley. Each of these groups has its own efforts and initiatives, but through PlanetM we can amplify that work and consolidate all of the parts into a very compelling whole.
Mobility and CAV technologies have also been key themes in several of Governor Snyder’s missions, including his mission to Europe this spring, but also to Consumer Electronic Show earlier in the year and Paris Air Show last year. MEDC is also very active at the ITS World Congress, and Detroit just hosted the 2018 ITS American Annual meeting. This year the Detroit North American International Auto Show included the AutoMobili-D expo, a nextgeneration mobility-focused event that was driven by the MEDC.
AI: How did Gov Snyder’s Europe initiative help promote Michigan?
Kerrigan: It is essential that we collaborate to harmonize global policy, regulations and standards to make transportation safe and more accessible for all. That we are sitting at the table with entire nations to work together to find global solutions speaks to Michigan’s leadership both in progressive autonomous vehicle legislation and in strategic investments in vehicle testing sites.
As residents change the way they live, travel and use services, many of the technologies that are changing these industries –
from health care to global connectivity – will be conceptualized, tested and created in Michigan. The mission to Europe reinforced
that for some of the leading experts and industries in the field.
AI: How will the MoUs signed on the trip help develop new technologies in the automotive sector?
Kerrigan: These agreements established great partnerships through which we will share research and knowledge between
Michigan and countries like the U.K. and Netherlands in the development and deployment of intelligent vehicle transportation
to ensure technology and safety go hand-in-hand with progress.
The MOUs signed in Europe were patterned after the one that the MEDC spearheaded with Canada. The objectives of collaboration include increasing cooperation in transportation technologies including sharing regulatory and technological data, co-hosting bi-lateral and multilateral meetings and creating a joint taskforce. The MOU also stipulates cooperation in lightweight material technology development.
AI: How will new legislation help boost autonomous vehicle technologies in Michigan?
Kerrigan: Michigan was one of the first states to legalize self-driving vehicles on public roads and we are proud to be a global leader when it comes to policies and regulations around self-driving vehicles. The package of bills relating to autonomous vehicles was passed the Michigan House and Senate with near unanimous support – something you don’t see a lot of today – because in Michigan we all understand the importance of selfdriving vehicles from the standpoints of technology, innovation and safety. We work closely with our federal delegation who are active in advancing bi-partisan, federal legislation to advance the testing and development of self-driving vehicles.
Michigan is proud to be on the forefront of AV legislation and policy. Governor Snyder also created the Michigan Council on Future
Mobility to make future recommendations on statewide policy recommendations that will keep Michigan ahead of the curve on
regulatory issues that could impede new development.
It is one of the only advisory bodies of its kind in the nation.This is all part of the reason Michigan is home to the most extensive system of test beds in the world and why we lead the nation in mobilityrelated patents with more than 2,583 in the past five years.
AI: Some critics have said the MEDC hasn’t done enough to actually bring in investments into the auto sector in Detroit – what would your response to them be?
Kerrigan: Michigan is ranked among the top five states for major new and expanded facilities, combined with the fact that we are ranked top in the nation for creating new manufacturing jobs. Additionally, the Detroit Regional Chamber reports Michigan has received more than US$25 billion in OEM and supplier investment since 2010 – more than any other state or province in North America. We are actively engaged with both our local partners to work to retain and grow the companies that already call Michigan home, and to attract new investments in Detroit and throughout the state.
AI: What are some of the major achievements MEDC has seen over the last year?
Kerrigan: At the ITS World Congress in Montreal in late 2017 Michigan led a symposium that allowed global leaders in mobility to share best practices, and to learn more about how testing facilities can work together to advance the technologies surrounding connected and automated vehicle development. We built on that with the MOUs signed with the U.K., Netherlands and the state of Styria in Austria earlier this year.
We celebrated the grand opening of The American Center for Mobility, of which MEDC is a key supporter and have seen the PlanetM campaign evolve from being primarily a marketing campaign to now providing a concierge service and the PlanetM Landing Zone for any mobility-focused company or investor to plug into Michigan’s automotive ecosystem.
A few other notable events during the year included the official ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new IACMI/LIFT lightweighting facility in Corktown in October, which MEDC is supporting through several grants, and the creation of the Manufacturing Innovation Center, capable of producing hightech electrified and autonomous vehicles at Ford Motor Co. Flat Rock Assembly Plant, supported by a Business Development Program performance-based grant from the MEDC.
MEDC is also supporting Automation Alley in its work to harness the power of Industry 4.0 and ensure Michigan is a leader in implementing this fourth industrial revolution here in Michigan.