Diversity and Inclusion: An Industry Imperative

Diversity and inclusion is a top industry priority now more than ever. A panel moderated by “Autoline” host John McElroy and featuring Margaret Baxter, executive director of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement (CADIA); Jatinder-Bir “Jay” Sandhu, CEO of NYX, LLC; and Kristen Tabar, group vice president of vehicle development and engineering at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development, identified best practices for satisfying the indisputable need for a stronger culture of inclusion.

The speakers’ collective sentiment on D&I was that it takes continuous effort at all levels of an organization – institutional to interpersonal implementation. While incremental action has proven effective for many teams, an authentic, applicable D&I culture starts at the top with leadership.  

“It doesn’t matter where you start. Just get going,” said Baxter. “You have to create a safe space for people to have these conversations and let people ask the difficult questions.”  

With a highly diverse workforce, NYX, LLC finds success in embracing and accommodating differences. Its facilities keep libraries of multi-lingual project instructions, new employees are partnered with a buddy from a similar cultural background to get acclimated, and the company invests in on-site ELS training before and after shifts.  

“It’s in our DNA that we’re going to look at different cultures and accept them,” said Sandhu.  

The panelists also emphasized the inherent business benefits of strong D&I practices. Staying mindful of the audiences being served will encourage diversity in personnel and ideas to reflect those needs and generate better results.  

“We really believe that innovation comes from this diversity of thought and that inclusiveness of hearing everyone’s voice, including all of our customers,” said Tabar.  

Finally, the group agreed that a thriving culture of D&I is rooted in listening – both accepting different perspectives from outside of the organization and incorporating internal feedback for process improvement.   

Thanks to Toyota for sponsoring this session. 


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 landscape and provided insight into the steps necessary to affirm the state’s leadership among other emerging markets. 

Robinet explained that IHS Markit provides vehicle forecasts on powertrain electrification, autonomy, and mobility. As part of the advisory team, Robinet works with suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to help better understand what’s happening in the industry. 

Suppliers and manufacturers look at two different factors when it comes to growthRobinet said, specifying that they consider both the data monetization of autonomous and education content, along with how to drive more volume and establish new dealer networks. 

“Our business has long been driven [by] scale and that mantra continues today,” said Robinet. “When you’re designing new electrification or autonomous structures, it’s a lot easier to afford if the number you’re dividing it by is an awful lot bigger than your competitor.”  

Robinet also noted some longterm trends emerging including that while sports utilities or crossovers will remain close to 50% of the market, that growth is slowing. And pickup trucks have likely leveled out for now in terms of their share of the market. 

Michigan has remained strong over the last decade and the volumes are still quite strong, Robinet said.  

“You see that global OEMs are really refocusing their efforts on using existing powertrains, harnessing new levels of electrification, and looking for where the data is going to have value in the future.” 

Executive Director of MICHauto Glenn Stevens Jr. and host of “Autoline” John McElroy joined Robinet onstage to continue the discussion. 

The group talked about how the industry has changed, and where it is headed in the next decade. Leadership has shifted drastically in the last ten years, noted Stevens. 

“When it comes to issues that are important, for example, diversity and inclusion, it was mentioned that it either comes from the top and from the troops, or it doesn’t work and it’s not relevant and impactful,” said Stevens. 

McElroy directed the discussion to how the U.S. needs to be thinking about the importance of the automotive and mobility industry. We are competing against countries that have industrial policies that are taking jobs away from us, he explained 

“We’re going to have to do things that make sure it’s on more of a level playing field,” said McElroy. 

Industry Diversification: Defense Meets Automotive

The 2020 MICHauto Summit brought two major industries together to discuss pathways to collaboration in a panel featuring Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Michigan and Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber Tammy CarnrikeDirector of Next Generation Combat Vehicle for the U.S. Army Futures Command Brigadier General Ross Coffman, and President and CEO of Safety Technology Holdings and Humanetics Innovative Solutions Christopher O’Connor 

Host of “Autoline” John McElroy, who moderated the panel, asked O’Connor how companies like Humanetics can become suppliers to the military. 

“It’s challenging in terms of identifying what the need is and how to apply that product, and then how to be competitive with the other players,” said O’Connor. 

Much of what already exists in companies also exists in the military, added Coffman. He shared that he wants to see more of Detroit and Michigan become involved with partnerships and collaborations. The autonomous vehicle space is huge for the military here, he noted. 

More than 60 years ago, Humanetics was developing aircraft ejection seats, said O’Connor. Most of the original products the company created were military based. 

“I spent 35 years in the army and in the army reserves,” said O’Connor. “Our introduction into the military and trying to work with developing products for injuries was near and dear to our background.” 

McElroy discussed with Carnrike how her role as civilian aide ties into her Chamber positionAs civilian aide, Carnrike is the eyes and the ears in the state of Michigan for the army, she explained. Her job is to help with recruitment and look for new opportunities for collaboration with the business industry, particularly automotive and manufacturing.  

“Most people don’t understand that the US Army is like a very large corporation,” said Carnrike. “Bringing in my Chamber job and understanding our business community through our MICHauto program, there’s such an opportunity for cross pollination.”  


Thanks to Kettering University for sponsoring this session. 

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 dangerous decade,” said McElroy. “The traditional auto industry is under threat.”  

Starting with electric vehicle development, McElroy discussed how automakers are building EVs because of government regulations, not consumer demand. This results in automakers not making money on production. Additionally, electric vehicles only feature 10 engine forgings – a fraction of traditional internal combustion engines. This results in less work for the foraging industry and potential future foraging plant shutdowns.   

In the race to develop autonomous vehicles, automakers spend massive research and design budgets, sometimes more than $1 billion per year. And while McElroy agreed with the idea of spending more money on autonomous vehicles, he pointed out that it is a heavy financial burden with no tangible return on investment (at least right now). 

McElroy considered aspects of Michigan’s economy that need to improve for the state to lead the next decade of automotive and mobility: 

  • Nurture the startup economy and look to other locations where they are successful. 
  • Work with the defense industry to recruit the best and brightest. 
  • Welcome and support incoming immigrants as they look for industry jobs. 
  • Continue to collaborate and find ways to better Michigan’s education system 

By having a genuine sense of urgency in these focus areas, McElroy believes Michigan will be in a better position to lead the next decade in the global mobility revolution. 

Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive and Order at 2020 MICHauto Summit

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made history at the 2020 MICHauto Summit when she shared her plan for ensuring Michigan’s leadership in the global automotive and mobility industry. On the hood of an Argo AI autonomous Ford Fusion, the governor signed two measures – an Executive Directive to create the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and designate a Chief Mobility Officer to head the office, and an Executive Order to create the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification. This announcement follows the state’s success over the past year in creating 11,000 new automotive jobs, more than any other state.

“These executive orders will help us build on the success that we’ve seen in the automotive and mobility sectors this past year,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I’m excited to work with leaders in the Office of Future Mobility to build on the progress we’ve seen in the last year and cement our status as a hub for innovation and opportunity in the automotive sector.”

The Detroit Regional Chamber and MICHauto played a key role in working with Gov. Whitmer’s administration to shape an agenda for the future of mobility together. The initiatives amplified their automotive and mobility advocacy efforts last year by investing in a full-time staff member dedicated to focusing on industry issues. MICHauto also expanded its partnership with the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus and together established a shared policy agenda for the industry.

“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and MICHauto are aligned on a vision to shape Michigan’s mobility future. MICHauto is honored to be a key partner to Gov. Whitmer’s administration in executing the executive actions taken today,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto. “I look forward to ongoing collaboration with the governor, The Michigan Council for Future Mobility and Electrification, the Michigan Legislative Automotive Caucus, and industry stakeholders to ensure Michigan leads the mobility revolution.”

Additionally, Gov. Whitmer highlighted the efforts of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Company, and FCA US LLC, all investing billions in Detroit. GM and FCA’s new automotive plants and Ford’s Corktown campus will together create thousands of automotive and mobility jobs in the coming years.

“These are exciting investments happening here in Michigan because of the incredible assets that we have,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I am acknowledging these phenomenal investments and the work that’s happening in the mobility space to announce that we are going to continue moving forward and keep our foot on the gas.”

MICHauto Positions Michigan to Lead the Global Mobility Revolution

The eighth annual MICHauto Summit is showcasing how Michigan is poised to lead the global mobility revolution. The state came out of the recession with 60,000 new manufacturing jobs, a nearly 50% growth, and 96 out of the top 100 suppliers to North America currently have a presence here. With electric and autonomous vehicles emerging as the next frontier, Michigan’s assets position the state as an industry superpower.

Michigan is home to top mobility research facilities like Mcity, the American Center for Mobility, and Kettering University GM Research Center, said Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah on the Summit stage. And the PlanetM Landing Zone is creating a startup ecosystem, attracting mobility startups from across the globe to build their business right here.

While the traditional automotive industry has an annual contribution of $225 billion to Michigan’s economy, the combined automotive and mobility industry has the potential to contribute $3.5 trillion globally, said MICHauto Executive Director and Vice President of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Chamber Glenn Stevens Jr.

As the state’s only automotive and mobility cluster association, MICHauto is addressing the state’s challenges in maintaining its lead in the global landscape through advocacy efforts, strengthening the talent pipeline, and convening power, explained Stevens. With a full-time advocacy dedicated staff person, MICHauto has spent the past year convening industry leaders with legislators in Lansing.

Discover Auto is helping change perceptions of jobs available in the industry by holding tours for students at top automotive companies in Michigan. Introducing students early on will help more students choose the industry for their career path later.

MICHauto’s fourth annual Michigan is Automobility report provides data and highlights the industry’s impact in Michigan. Highlights from the report include:

  • Michigan has 500+ miles equipped for connect and autonomous vehicles.
  • The state leads the nation in U.S. Department of Transportation-funded vehicle deployments and public-private partnerships for on-the-road testing.
  • 8,600+ engineering degrees are earned from Michigan colleges and universities annually.
  • 73% of the nation’s business-funded automotive research and development is done in Michigan, which is $14 billion.

Download the full report.

Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a lifelong Michigander.  She is a lawyer, an educator, former prosecutor, State Representative and Senator.  She was the first woman to lead a Senate caucus. But the most important title she boasts is MOM. Inspired by her family, she’s devoted her life to building a stronger Michigan for everyone.

Governor Whitmer was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2006 where she served as the Senate Democratic Leader. In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Governor Whitmer won all 83 counties in the primary and won the general election with 53 percent of the vote. Since taking her oath of office, she has put together the most diverse cabinet in our state’s history and has signed executive directives to clean up our drinking water, end discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation and gender identity, secure equal pay for equal work, and expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses. She has led bipartisan negotiations to lower Michiganders’ auto insurance and led a bipartisan group of legislators and business, education, and labor leaders to make sure every Michigander has a path to a high wage skill.

Governor Whitmer is committed to solving the problems Michiganders face every day. She has put a bold budget plan on the table that will ensure every Michigander has a great public education and a path to a good-paying job, every community has clean, safe drinking water, and everyone can drive to work or drop their kids at school safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield.

Kristen Tabar

Group Vice President, Vehicle Development and Engineering, Toyota North America Research and Development

Kristen Tabar is group vice president of vehicle development and engineering at Toyota Motor North American Research and Development (TMNA R&D) in York Township, Mich., responsible for vehicle development design engineering teams for Toyota’s North American operations. In this role, Tabar directs the vehicle development strategy, introducing new technology and systems, and working with North American manufacturing centers and local suppliers to deliver vehicles matching customer expectations and Toyota’s high level of quality.

Passionate about women’s leadership, Tabar supports a range of outreach and continuing development initiatives related to STEM education for women. Currently, she serves on Toyota’s Diversity Advisory Board, Audit Committee, and Investment Council.

Tabar joined Toyota in 1992 as an engineer, responsible for vehicle audio component development. Tabar earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Legislators, auto industry leaders discuss supporting electric vehicle growth in Michigan


Contact: Rachel Perkins, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, (517) 333-1606
Video recording of event: https://youtu.be/la04WvKxuFE

ROCHESTER HILLS – Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) gathered with automotive industry leaders Monday morning at a roundtable to discuss the future of the electric vehicle (EV) industry, what policies are needed to support EV infrastructure and how Michigan can support the advancement of the EV industry.

In June 2019, McMorrow introduced a bipartisan four-bill package that would support the growth of electric vehicles in Michigan and establish the nation’s first statewide charging network.

“Michigan built the American automotive industry, but it’s an industry that’s changing more rapidly now than any other time before,” said Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak). “No other state has the history, talent and capability to design and build the next generation of electric vehicles, but we need to have the infrastructure in place to support that development. It’s critical that the legislature and the Governor work together to move forward on positioning Michigan to be a leader in the future of this industry.”

“These bills encourage our state to create a collaborative and coordinated plan, working with private companies, small businesses, utilities and various state departments to build out the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, making Michigan the first fully networked state,” said Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe). “This electric vehicle legislation would preserve good automotive jobs as the industry continues to shift, reduce taxes on businesses and encourage those who stop to charge vehicles to put dollars back into our local economies while they wait. This bill gets it done for Michigan residents and our state as a whole.”

“Ford is committed to electrification and has announced plans to invest more than $11B by 2022 to deliver all-new hybrid and fully electric vehicles, including the all-new Mustang Mach-E and our best-selling F-150 which will be produced right here in Dearborn, Michigan,” Ford Motor Company said in a statement. “We need key stakeholders and government partners to work collaboratively to accelerate deployment of the necessary EV infrastructure to ensure successful consumer adoption of this important future technology.”

“GM believes in an all-electric, zero emissions future,” said Brian O’Connell, regional director of state government relations at GM. “We are committed to investing, incentivizing or working with companies to bring charging solutions to the market to best serve customers. We continue to collaborate on a holistic approach to EV infrastructure using a shared charging standard.”

“The next generation of the automobile is quickly evolving from concept to deployment. As electric vehicles begin navigating Michigan’s roads, we will require the sufficient necessary infrastructure to support them,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “I deeply appreciate the commitment that Sen. McMorrow, Rep. Joe Bellino, and others in our Legislature have to addressing this issue and to maintaining Michigan’s position as the world’s center of mobility innovation.”

“The world is moving toward an automated, shared, and connected mobility future – and it is all going to happen on an electrified platform,” said Cory Connolly, vice president of policy at the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. “Investments in charging infrastructure like those included in the package of bills led by Sen. McMorrow and Rep. Bellino are crucial to make this transition possible and to help unleash private sector innovation

The bipartisan package includes:

  • Senate Bill 406 and House Bill 4786Would create the Electric Vehicle Council within the Michigan Department of Transportation to create a statewide, comprehensive charging infrastructure plan to expand Michigan’s charging network in a cost-effective way.Sponsored by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Rep. Tim Sneller (D-Burton)
  • Senate Bill 408 and House Bill 4787Would allow the state to install or lease space for EV charging stations at state park and rides.Sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor)
  • Senate Bill 407 and House Bill 4788Would allow the state to install or lease space for installation of EV charging stations in state parks.Sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Township) and Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Jackson)
  • Senate Bill 409 and House Bill 4789

    Would create tax incentives for small businesses and multi-unit housing to install EV charging stations.Sponsored by Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Township) and Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe)