Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to keep Michigan’s ‘pole position’ in autonomous vehicles with new agency

February 25, 2020

MLive.com

By Emily Lawler

A new state agency and other administrative changes will help Michigan maintain its “pole position” in the auto industry as it branches into mobility and automation, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told a gathering of education and mobility experts at the MICHAuto summit on Tuesday.

“In the state that put the world on wheels and that’s home to some of the most innovating, driven workers on the planet, we must continue to work to solidify Michigan as a global leader in mobility,” Whitmer said in a statement.

The mobility industry includes things like autonomous, electric and connected vehicles and technologies.

On the hood of a car, Whitmer signed two executive orders: one creating the Michigan Office of Future Mobility under the and another creating the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification. Both are housed under the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

The Michigan Office of Future Mobility, to bed led by a soon-to-be-named director, will coordinate mobility-related initiatives across areas like economic development, labor and infrastructure efforts.

The orders also abolish the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, which was created by a 2016 law and housed in the Michigan Department of Transportation, and create the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification. The new council will have 17 voting members and advise the governor and legislature on changes to state policy.

Both aim to capitalize on Michigan’s heritage as an auto state, but also move the state into the future “mobility” sector, focusing on things like autonomous vehicles.

The moves “will help us build on the success we’ve seen in the automotive and mobility sectors,” Whitmer said ahead of signing the executive orders.

Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said he’s looking for somebody who understands the industry very well and can help Michigan pivot to the future of the mobility industry.

Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said Whitmer “is building and expanding on the work to ensure that Michigan’s companies, infrastructure and people are ready to compete, ready to win, and ready to shape the next century of mobility.”

The executive orders earned praise from industry executives.

“FCA applauds the creation of the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and looks forward to working with the Governor and her team to help ensure Michigan remains the home of the quickly evolving mobility industry,” said Stephen J. Buckley, FCA senior technical fellow – electrical engineering in a press release.

Officials from Ford and General Motors also applauded the move.

Whitmer said in order to keep the state’s “pole position” in the industry she is also focused on bolstering the state’s workforce and fixing the state’s roads.

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Whitmer signs orders to advance mobility in the state

February 25, 2020

The Detroit News

By Kalea Hall

Detroit — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive orders Tuesday to create a council on future mobility and electrification, establish the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and to appoint a chief mobility officer.

Whitmer signed the executive orders atop an Argo AI autonomous vehicle at the MICHauto Summit centered around the state “Leading the Global Mobility Revolution.” The orders follow a year of next-generation investment in the city by Detroit’s three automakers, and are intended to accelerate the auto industry’s momentum in the state.

“Initiatives like these are key to keeping Michigan at the forefront of the future of mobility,” said Bryan Salesky, co-founder and CEO of Argo AI, Ford Motor Co.’s autonomous-vehicle partner. said in a statement. Powered by Ford vehicles, Argo is testing its autonomous vehicles in six cities, including Detroit.

“The deep pools of talent and manufacturing capacity in Michigan are two of the biggest reasons why we’re so proud to operate in this state and have automaker partnership like the one we have with Ford Motor Company.”

The Michigan Office of Future Mobility is expected to help make sure Michigan is “the go-to state to build, test and deploy the cars of the future,” Whitmer said. “The office will also help us continue to build public and private partnerships that drive mobility solutions to ensure we compete globally.”

The state expects to announce who the mobility officer is within the next few weeks, said Jeff Donofrio, state director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Whitmer is directing the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to create the office that will be in charge of leading the coordination of all mobility-related initiatives across economic development, workforce and infrastructure needs in the state.

The Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, which abolishes the current Council on Future Mobility, will be housed at the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The council will be responsible for providing recommendations for changes in state policy.

“Gov. Whitmer and MICHauto are aligned on a vision to shape Michigan’s mobility future,” said Glenn Stevens, executive Director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the chamber. “MICHauto is honored to be a key partner to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration in executing the executive actions taken today.”

Last year, Michigan saw investments from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. — all focused, in some appreciable measure, on fielding electrified versions of top-selling pickups and SUVs.

FCA has earmarked $2.5 billion to retool two plants in Detroit to build next-generation Jeep SUVs and, eventually, electric vehicles. Ford is investing $740 million to renovate a historic site in Corktown and develop future technologies there. GM plans to spend $3 billion at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to build electric trucks and autonomous shuttles.

“These are exciting investments that are happening here in Michigan, happening because of the incredible assets that we have,” Whitmer said at the summit.

Representatives from all of Detroit three automakers applauded the executive orders.

“Michigan will continue to play a key role in our commitment to advance the future of mobility as evidenced in our recent announcements to create the first all-electric GM assembly plant and manufacture a variety of electric vehicles, including the self-driving Origin, in our backyard,” Brian O’Connell, GM’s regional director of state government relations, said in a statement. “Leveraging our capabilities and research and development leadership, we look forward to working with the state to create an all-electric future.”

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Read Recaps from the 2020 MICHauto Summit: Leading The Global Mobility Revolution

Bryan Salesky Outlines Pathway To A Connected, Autonomous Future

In a one-on-one conversation with Argo AI CEO and Co-founder Bryan Salesky at the 2020 MICHauto Summit, “Autoline” host John McElroy emphasized the accelerated pace of the autonomous and connected vehicle movement over the …

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Darren Palmer: Transforming The Automotive And Mobility Industry

“Freedom of movement drives human progress.”  Darren Palmer, the global director of battery elective vehicles product development at Ford Motor Company, opened his keynote address at the 2020 MICHauto Summit with this Ford …

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Growth In The Global Market

At the 2020 MICHauto Summit, Michael Robinet, executive director of automotive advisory services at IHS Markit, outlined factors in his keynote address that will impact Michigan’s position in the global automotive mobility …

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John McElroy: Michigan’s Auto Industry Embarks On A Dangerous Decade

“Autoline” host John McElroy encouraged attendees at the 2020 MICHauto Summit in his keynote address to be proactive, not reactive, when planning for the industry’s next decade. McElroy emphasized that automakers will face both direct and indirect costs in their innovative practices.  “We are embarking on a very …

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Michigan governor creates office for mobility initiatives

February 25, 2020

Associated Press (AP)

By David Eggert

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that Michigan will have a mobility officer to coordinate all initiatives related to self-driving and connected cars, an effort she said will ensure the state is the go-to place for testing and producing vehicles of the future.

While speaking at the MICHAuto Summit in Detroit, Whitmer signed an executive directive to create the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, effectively immediately. It will be led by a chief mobility officer whose name probably will be announced in April, Whitmer said.

She also signed an executive order to establish the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, an advisory group that will replace but function similarly to one created by a 2016 law. The council will be housed within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity instead of the Department of Transportation.

Whitmer told The Associated Press that business leaders told her administration it would be helpful to have one place of contact in state government for issues related to the mobility sector.

“Obviously that doesn’t mean that there won’t still be many departments involved. But there will be one quarterback,” she said in a phone interview. “That’s, I think, essential to ensuring that we’re harnessing all the great things we’re doing in a focused way that makes sense.”

While many states are competing to lead in mobility, Michigan is in a great position because it is home to the auto industry and has many engineers, top research universities and extensive “connected” infrastructure, Whitmer said.

Her directive cites six trends driving a period of “unprecedented change” in the auto industry and mobility sector: autonomous driving, vehicle connectivity, powertrain electrification, shared mobility, intelligent automation and the global supply chain.

The Democratic governor’s order creating the new advisory panel and putting it under a different agency will take effect April 27 unless it is rejected by the Republican-led Senate. The moves were welcomed by automakers, environmental groups and a major utility, Consumers Energy.

Whitmer signed the directive and order on the hood of a self-driving vehicle that has technology developed by Pittsburgh-based Argo Al. The company’s partner investors include Ford and Volkswagen.

View the original article here

Michigan creates chief mobility officer, council focused on auto tech industry

February 25, 2020

Automotive News

By Chad Livengood

DETROIT — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Tuesday creating a new Michigan Office of Future Mobility led by a chief mobility officer for the state focused on strategies to build up the automotive mobility tech sector.
Whitmer signed the directive on the hood of a Ford Motor Co. autonomous vehicle at a MICHAuto Summit in Detroit with auto industry leaders.
The Democratic governor also signed a second executive order establishing a Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification.
The Office of Future Mobility will be housed within the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.
The chief mobility officer, their office and the new council will be focused on developing a talented workforce for developing artificial intelligence technologies for self-driving vehicles and “placing a greater emphasis on the importance of electrification and electric vehicle infrastructure and overall state strategy around mobility,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer announced the new mobility industry initiatives after detailing the major auto industry investments the Detroit 3 have launched in the past year: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ conversion of two east side Detroit engine plants into a new Jeep assembly plant; Ford Motor Co.’s plans to build a fully electric F-150 pickup in Dearborn; General Motors’ retooling of its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to build electric vehicles, including a revived Hummer SUV.
“We are going to continue moving forward to keep our foot on the gas,” Whitmer said.

“This is a double and triple down for our industry,” MICHAuto Executive Director Glenn Stevens said on stage at the one-day summit at the College of Creative Studies’ Taubman Center in Detroit’s New Center.
Jeff Donofrio, director of the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said he expects to fill the chief mobility officer position within “the next few weeks.”
“We’re looking for someone who understands the industry very well, understands the kind of north stars that we’re trying to drive toward, right, which is making sure we have a strong auto industry that’s able to pivot to the next generation of mobility,” Donofrio said.

View the original article here

Bryan Salesky Outlines Pathway to a Connected, Autonomous Future

In a one-on-one conversation with Argo AI CEO and Co-founder Bryan Salesky at the 2020 MICHauto Summit, “Autoline” host John McElroy emphasized the accelerated pace of the autonomous and connected vehicle movement over the past few years.

“The rate of improvement in autonomy was breathtaking,” said McElroy.

Salesky acknowledged that progress will only continue to pick up. While the technology hasn’t quite taken hold in the mainstream, enormous progress has been made on the backend. Salesky reinforced the gradual nature of these developments and the nuanced steps necessary to make it a reality. Real-world data and examples are essential to building these systems, and that observation and analysis takes testing and time.

“I try to be a voice of reason in this whole sector,” said Salesky. “It’s going to be a gradual ramp. There’s a lot more at stake here than just building the technologies. There’s also getting communities and cities and people to raise their education and awareness of the good things that autonomous vehicles can provide.”

Salesky then asserted the importance of leading with safety rather than speed. It’s a consideration he and the Argo AI team take not only in developing technology but also in selecting suppliers and partners.

“We have a responsibility to put safety in front of everything,” said Salesky. “When you’re working on something this complex, putting arbitrary timelines on it is not helpful to anybody.”

Salesky went on to paint the picture of what the autonomous vehicle movement looks like in the immediate future. While the technology is still developing and carries a significant cost, the vehicles will likely be part of shared service fleets before they’re practical for individual ownership.

In closing, Salesky explained that the next major phase of development will occur on the business side. Experimentation is underway to create sustainable, productive business models capable of supporting these technologies.

Thank you to MEDC/PlanetM for sponsoring this session.

Darren Palmer: Transforming the Automotive and Mobility Industry

“Freedom of movement drives human progress.” 

Darren Palmer, the global director of Battery Electric Vehicles product development at Ford Motor Company, opened his keynote address at the 2020 MICHauto Summit with this Ford philosophy. Palmer continued to explain how his team is harnessing the new automotive frontier of battery electric vehicles to transform one of the industry’s most iconic brands.

Team Edison, a small, diverse group of Ford employees formed in December 2017, was designated to lead this work and projects like the Mustang Mach-E. Operating as a startup within a 100-year-old company allowed Palmer and his team to carefully navigate the industry’s changing landscape.  

“We think big, act small, and move fast,” said Palmer.  

To address the pervasive public skepticism toward battery electric vehicles, his team focusses on human-centered design. It creates new solutions that are tailor-made to suit customers’ needs through gathering consumer research, identifying themes, generating ideas and prototypes, refining concepts, and reframing questions with new insights.  

On making these developments and new technologies more of a reality, Palmer emphasizes the need for not only applicability to customers, but profitability. 

“All-electric vehicles need to be profitable,” said Palmer. “If they’re not profitable, they’re not sustainable, and we don’t want to sell them. And if the whole company doesn’t want to sell them, they won’t put their passion behind it.” 

Palmer concluded by explaining the vision of the Mustang Mach-E and the delicate balance of ensuring Ford’s legacy and priorities are present in these vehicles of the near future. Amid evolving audiences and products, Palmer and his team concentrate on amplifying Ford’s strengths and its commitment to helping customers work productively, enjoy the thrill of performance, participate in adventures, and encourage human connection.