Mobility and Industry 4.0: Working Together for Michigan’s Future

This article was authored by MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. as a guest blog for Automation Alley. The piece discusses the intersection of mobility and Industry 4.0.

In 1901 Ransom E. Olds set up the first automobile manufacturing plant in Lansing, Michigan. Two years later, Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company, which would soon build the Model-T. Although Olds utilized conveyor systems in his first plant, the revolutionary development that enabled the mass production of vehicles did not come until 1913 when the modern assembly line was introduced at the Highland Park Ford plant.

Now, 119 years later, we are witnessing two significant manufacturing developments unfold in the Detroit region. The new FCA assembly plant and General Motors Co.’s Factory Zero will not only be manufacturing world-class vehicles featuring electrified propulsion systems, but they will also be enabled by the technologies of Industry 4.0. At the industry’s peak in the United States there were hundreds of companies designing, engineering, and manufacturing light vehicles. While the industry settled into several major players for decades, we are now witnessing another significant inflection point. The current mobility transformation is driven by major technologies in the areas of connected, automated, electrified, and shared.

The electric vehicle (EV) explosion, which was initiated by Elon Musk, has more than taken hold. In fact, what we are witnessing in the EV OEM world is strikingly like the growth of entrepreneurs and innovators in the market growth for manufacturers in the early 20th century. Long ago, there were companies such as DeSoto and Packard. Although they no longer exist, our familiar hometown OEMs Ford, General Motors, and FCA have grown and thrived globally, leading the mobility transformation. In addition, the EV industry has spawned new companies following in Tesla’s footprint, including Lucid, Lordstown Motors, Bollinger Motors, Rivian, Fisker, and Atlis. These modern automotive companies are the Studebakers and Tuckers of today. Just like in the last century, there will be winners, acquisitions, and failures. The winners and losers will include the regions of the world where new technologies are created and manufactured.

The vehicles of yesterday and the new innovations of next-generation mobility have been brought to life through innovative design and manufacturing processes. Today, Industry 4.0 and Mobility go hand in hand – one enabling the other. Walking through today’s engineering and manufacturing centers you will see robots, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, and other cutting-edge technologies. In both the plants and vehicles there are two major common technologies: connectivity of the internet of things and cybersecurity. Today’s data-driven, automated, and extremely connected plants are producing vehicles enabled by tens of millions of lines of code that must be protected by the latest in cybersecurity technology.

In the automotive industry in Michigan and globally the buzzword has overwhelming been “mobility.” Fortunately, we have organizations like Automation Alley that have led the way as thought leaders to ensure our region advances and leads with Industry 4.0 technologies. The conversation around mobility and electrification must include what drives the design, engineering, testing, and manufacturing of today’s vehicles and will enable our leadership in the opportunity of next-generation mobility. For Michigan to lead in the future, the industry must be globally competitive in how we manufacture and bring new modes of transportation to life.

The mobility and Industry 4.0 conversations are directly linked. In fact, this is Michigan’s competitive advantage, if we seize it. Revolutionary technologies in creating and manufacturing vehicles will again enable mass production, but this time it will be Michigan’s leadership in next-generation mobility vehicles and technologies.

I would submit that there are two driving forces behind the mobility inflection point: global societal changes and economic opportunity.  Mobility technology must help solve the global issues of congestion and thus, emissions, safety, traffic fatalities, and injuries, as well as the ability of our citizens to be connected and have mobility solutions. People must be able to access health care, work, and education for economic growth, and mobility technologies can help solve global issues instead of contributing to them. The other opportunity is economic.  Michigan’s automotive industry has an economic contribution to the state of over $225 billion, while the global auto industry is typically described as being a $3 trillion market.  As we look to the future, personal mobility in the shared use economy is projected to be upwards of a $7 trillion industry. The opportunity for Michigan is to seize on this market potential, but the success will depend on the collaboration of companies, organizations, and very critically the talent required for both Industry 4.0 and mobility technologies. The opportunity to leverage our manufacturing heritage to create the vehicles and technologies of the future is one we collectively must seize. The alternative is not an option.

*Originally published on the Automation Alley Blog.

Statewide Engineering Job Postings Indicate Automotive Industry Still Hiring

COVID-19 has had significant negative impacts on Michigan’s economy and workforce. In April 2020, during the first lockdown order, the unemployment rate in Michigan jumped from 4.0% in March 2020 to 23.6%. Rates have slowly decreased to 8.2% in September and 5.5% in October 2020. Unfortunately, this is still higher than the pre-shutdown rates.

Contradictory to what the unemployment rate might indicate, statewide engineering job postings have not followed this significant negative trend. In fact, between January and October 2020 (YTD), an average of 2,547 engineers were hired per month. This is not significant compared to the 2019 average of 2,711 monthly engineering hires, as shared in the 2020 Michigan is Automobility Report. There is evidence of the impacts of COVID-19 when analyzing the unique engineering job postings per month, however. Again, it is not as significant as may be assumed. Prior to the shutdown in March, there were 13,050 unique engineering job postings in January 2020. The lowest point is in September 2020 with 7,744 unique job postings, nearly half the amount in January 2020. The trend finally shifts upward in October 2020 with 8,226 unique job postings, only 2,700 less than in December 2019.

The slight downward trend in unique engineering job postings compared to the steady number of engineering hires per month indicates the automotive industry has been impacted by the shutdown and subsequent economic effects from COVID-19, however, it will still be a driving force in Michigan’s recovery and return to a pre-COVID-19 unemployment rate. As Michigan’s largest industry and the heart of the state’s economy, it’s important that it continues operations to generate revenue and job opportunities.

There has not been a change in the top counties or cities posting engineering jobs. MICHauto shared in the 2020 Michigan is Automobility Report the top counties were Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb; and the top cities were Detroit, Auburn Hills, and Dearborn. This remains true year-to-date. However, there has been a slight change in the type of engineering jobs posted. Top engineering jobs posted in Michigan in 2019 were design engineers, controls engineers, product engineers, quality assurance engineers, and project engineers. The top postings in 2020 (YTD) are controls engineers, manufacturing engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and quality engineers. This may indicate a slight shift in the type of products in production or an effort to reorganize the workforce within companies.

To see updates to engineering job postings, check out the MICHauto Automotive Indicators page. View the 2019 job postings statistics from the 2020 Michigan is Automobility report here.


CADIA Connects: MICHauto Takeover with Dennis W. Archer Jr.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, MICHauto hosted a takeover of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement’s CADIA Connects series. In the session, Carolyn Sauer, senior director of MICHauto, had the opportunity to virtually sit down with Dennis W. Archer Jr., CEO of Ignition Media Group and president and founding partner of Archer Corporate Services, to discuss the current impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and restaurants, the racial injustice inflection point we are in, and the future of Detroit.

Having come from a strong family background of civic involvement, Archer has always prioritized giving back. In his business endeavors, people recognize the strong focus on “doing well while doing good,” which is why the COVID-19 pandemic and most recent state orders have weighed heavily on his mind. As a business owner with a sense of responsibility for his team, Archer is working through how to help support them during this latest pause.

On a deeper level, the conversation turned to the current inflection point around race, equity, diversity, and inclusion. It is a topic we have seen rise to the surface many times in the past, only to be left behind without any real systemic change. So, what is different this time? Archer believes that corporations are responding in a positive way, with General Motors Co.’s CEO Mary Barra, who is at the forefront of GM’s goal of becoming the most inclusive company in the world. As a member of the General Motors Inclusion Advisory Board, Archer reflects on how important it is for leaders to set the right tone.

“I would say that not only Detroit, [but] nationally I see what I believe and hope to be a much more sustained difference in people’s behavior,” said Archer. “Now the true measure of that will be in a year from now or two years from now to see if the same level of importance and same emphasis is placed. But I see a lot of companies, I see municipalities really taking a step forward and trying to make foundational change, systematic change.”

As people ask what we can do today to really impact systemic change, Archer’s recommendations are clear:

  1. Self Reflect: Whether you are a larger corporation, small business, or an individual, you must recognize your weaknesses, blind spots, and prejudices. You have to acknowledge those first or you can’t make any real change.
  2. Be Intentional: This is not a topic that can be solved by putting out a statement or an email. You have to put in the hard work if you want systemic change.
  3. Look to the Outside: Fiscally, consider hiring a consultant to give an outside assessment. If leadership in a company has been the same, then getting another perspective can help get down to how the cultural environment is perceived by current employees, what is being done for retention, and what questions are being asked in exit interviews.

Talking about how Detroit can evolve over the next few years, Archer believes the city is on a great glidepath, despite the bumps in the road caused by a pandemic and an unusual political cycle. Detroit is positioned well to come through any potential economic downturn, with enough investments and companies moving into the city, said Archer. Even if we do a hit a recessionary period, Detroit will sustain and continue the path forward.

Our automotive industry has been slow to move the needle regarding diversity at the top, as MICHauto’s Glenn Stevens Jr. and CADIA’s Cheryl Thompson pointed out in their recent op-ed, Industry Diversity Needed Now. Archer’s take on what must fundamentally change brings us back to the talent pipeline and intentionality, not just in automotive, but across corporate America. Companies have to be intentional about wanting to be inclusive.

“Back in the 70s and late 60s when a lot of diversity programs came to be, then it was the right thing to do. Everyone felt it was the right thing to do. It was important to have diversity. Now, it’s a business imperative,” said Archer. “It just makes business sense that your workforce, board of directors, your suppliers, and your senior leadership reflect the constituents or consumers that you serve.”

Dennis W. Archer Jr. is the CEO of Ignition Media Group, president and founding partner of Archer Corporate Services, and creator and managing partner of Central Kitchen + Bar.  He is also highly engaged in civic and philanthropic endeavors, including Past Chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors where he also sits on the executive committee. Recently appointed by GM CEO Mary Barra to serve on the General Motors Inclusion Advisory Board, Archer continues to be sought after for inclusion on other boards and committees to share his knowledge and insights. Learn more at

Post-Election Automotive Impact: The Results are In, Now What?

MICHauto hosted a virtual town hall with investors featuring guest speakers Ron Fournier, president of Truscott Rossman, and David Palsrok, government policy advisor for Dykema. Fournier and Palsrok shared a review of the post-election automotive impact from the federal and state levels, highlighting several changes to the new legislative body and what can be expected over the short-term. MICHauto’s Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. moderated the conversation and Q&A.

With the uptick in COVID-19 cases this fall, manufacturers are wondering when the automotive policy agenda may return its focus to other industry priorities. The pre-COVID-19 worker shortage has been amplified with production facilities that continue to experience high absenteeism. Compounding this issue is the immigration challenge of H1B and student visas. But these challenges may continue as, both Fournier and Palsrok agree, the pandemic will continue to take precedence into the second quarter of 2021.

Automotive manufacturers can, however, start the process of engaging new legislators as early as January. This is the time, says Fournier, to start building those relationships and communicating the issues. Palsrok agreed, referencing the 2020 Capitol Conversations that MICHauto hosted in September, bringing together industry leaders and legislators. We need to continually educate new legislators about the key issues facing our industry, especially as new legislators are elected, and redistricting occurs.

It is likely, Palsrok says, that it will be April 2021 before the focus can turn to other automotive policy agenda topics like electrification incentives, new regulations for autonomous vehicles, and filling the talent pipeline. And there will be a significant window of time before gubernatorial and Senate elections occur to push this agenda.

While debating the current situation as pessimistic or optimistic, Fournier did state that there is a “cup half full” moment right now for the automotive industry, namely because:

  • Legislators will listen because they know how important Michigan is in the race.
  • Automotive creates jobs in practically every district in this country, which is important to every lawmaker.
  • Mobility is a futuristic topic that many lawmakers can grab onto and think forward.

One dynamic among our political parties that may not change in the near term is that they are leaning further right and further left than ever before, creating a wider divide that makes bipartisan cooperation more difficult than in previous years, making our unified voice as an automotive industry even more important.



Automotive News Announces 100 Leading Women in Auto, Including MICHauto Investors

For over 20 years, Automotive News has been monitoring the progress of women within the automotive industry, naming industry leaders every five years since 2000. This year Automotive News announced their fifth 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry list, featuring female executives from 72 companies. Automotive News chose from hundreds of powerful female executives to select 100 to be named to this year’s list for their exemplary work in the industry, the impact they have had on the health and direction of their businesses, and the arc of their career.

Of the 100, the list includes MICHauto Board Chair Lisa Lunsford, CEO of GS3 Global, as well as leaders from 14 MICHauto investor companies: Adient, American Axle & Manufacturing, BorgWarner, Denso International America, Faurecia, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Ford Motor Company, GS3 Global, Lear Corp., Lucerne International, Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA), Tenneco, Toyota Motor North America, and Waymo.

MICHauto is proud to celebrate these distinguished women leading our industry. The honorees representing MICHauto investor companies include:

  • Jessica Berry, Vice President, Toyota and Hyundai-Kia, Adient
  • Faith Wandrie, Vice President, Global Supply Chain, American Axle & Manufacturing Inc.
  • Tonit Calaway, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary, BorgWarner
  • Heather Klish, Vice President, Manufacturing, Continuous Improvement and Integration, BorgWarner
  • Denise Carlson, Vice President of North American Production Innovation Center and Executive Lead of Diversity and Inclusion, Denso International America
  • Lisa Viazanko, Vice President, Engineering, Faurecia
  • Mamantha Chamarthi, Chief Information Officer, North America and Asia Pacific, FCA
  • Deirdre Fultz, Plant Manager, Indiana Transmission Plant, FCA
  • Marissa Hunter, Head of Marketing – North America, FCA
  • Elizabeth Krear, Model Responsible, Jeep Gladiator, FCA
  • Lisa Lortie, Global Director, Powertrain Testing and Analysis, FCA
  • Linda Cash, Vice President, Quality and New Model Launch Program, Ford Motor Co.
  • Lisa Drake, Chief Operating Officer, North America, Ford Motor Co.
  • Joy Falotico, Chief Marketing Officer and President, Lincoln, Ford Motor Co.
  • Cynthia Flanigan, Director, Vehicle Research and Technology, Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Co.
  • Debbie Manzano, Plant Manager, Dearborn Truck Plant, Ford Motor Co.
  • Cathy O’Callaghan, Controller, Chief Financial Officer of Automotive, Ford Motor Co.
  • Rekha Wunnava, Global Director, Automotive Design and Build IT, Ford Motor Co.
  • Lisa Lunsford, CEO, GS3 Global
  • Vickie Piner, Global Vice President of Quality, E-Systems, Lear Corp.
  • Mary Buchzeiger, CEO, Lucerne International
  • Julie Fream, CEO, OESA
  • Christina Tsai, Vice President and General Manager, Global Sealing, Tenneco
  • Leah Curry, President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Toyota Motor North America
  • Susan Elkington, President, Toyota Manufacturing, Kentucky, Toyota Motor North America
  • Karen Ideno, Group Vice President, Toyota Financial Services; Group Vice President, Sales, Product, and Marketing, Mazda Financial Services, Toyota Financial Services
  • Sandra Phillips Rogers, Group Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Chief Diversity Officer, Toyota Motor North America
  • Kristen Tabar, Group Vice President, Vehicle Development and Engineering, Toyota Motor North America
  • Julia Wada, Group Vice President Strategy, Innovation, and Transformation, Toyota Financial Services
  • Tekedra Mawakana, Chief Operating Officer, Waymo

Click here for the full list of 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.

Detroit Mobility Solutions Coalition: Discussing the Future of Mobility in Detroit

On Nov. 12, MICHauto hosted the Detroit Mobility Solutions Coalition, a collaborative effort between stakeholders to provide plans and updates on the mobility ecosystem in Detroit. The group, which was initially formed in December 2016, meets to share plans, events, and actions to advance technology and solutions in the mobility space.

During the meeting, MICHauto’s Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. gave an update about the progression of the industry through the past eight months, and the importance of remaining vigilant to keep manufacturing open in the face of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations. In addition, Stevens shared that MICHauto’s focus has largely shifted to advocacy, in particular the partnership with the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement (CADIA) to develop strategies focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Several partners also provided updates on mobility work throughout the Detroit area:

Hind Ourahou, senior mobility strategist for the City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation discussed actions the city has been taking to meet their goal of building autonomous vehicle (AV) constituency among residents, promoting racial equity through access to mobility operations, and more. Recently, the City of Detroit received two grants, both of which will be utilized to engage the community and allow Detroit residents to have a say in shaping how AVs operate within the city. The Knight Foundation Grant will be used to engage the community in conversations around mobility gaps and pinpoint opportunities for public transit, new mobility and AV use, while the USDOT ADS Grant will focus on AV pilot deployment for seniors and people with disabilities.

Kathryn Snorrason, business development manager for PlanetM through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), gave updates on behalf of the State of Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME). As a new initiative, the office works across state government, academia, and private industry to enhance mobility in Michigan. OFME’s vision for mobility and electrification is a stronger state economy through safer, more equitable, and environmentally conscious transportation for all Michigan residents. Currently, OFME works with the Governor’s office, MDOT, LEO, MEDC, and EGLE to coordinate statewide mobility strategies, grow the industry, engage mobility startups, expand smart infrastructure, accelerate EV adoption in Michigan, enable the mobility workforce, and bolster Michigan’s mobility manufacturing core.

Shaina Horowitz, vice president of product and programs for Newlab provided insight into the multi-disciplinary technology center’s engagement in Detroit. As a research lab and workspace for socially oriented technology manufacturing, the New York-based company consists of a community of experts and investors who apply transformative technologies to solve societal challenges. In partnership with Fortune 500 companies and civic leaders, Newlab builds teams to identify problems and design solutions, which are then piloted in Innovation and Venture Studios. Since their start in 2016, Newlab has opened two studios in Detroit: The Mobility Studio in partnership with Ford and Michigan Central, and The Accessible Streets Studio with Michigan Central. The focus of The Mobility Studio is to deliver on the electrified, connected, and autonomous future by building, testing, and launching new mobility concepts, in collaboration with industry experts, automotive leaders, engineers, entrepreneurs, and inventors. The Accessible Streets Studio was created to connect the Detroit community, civic stakeholders, startups, and industry experts to design, innovative solutions to bridge accessibility gaps.

Maggie Shannon, associate director of Michigan projects for Cavnue, shared updates on the company’s partnership with the State of Michigan to develop a connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) corridor across Southeast Michigan. Following the launch in August, Cavnue started a two-year feasibility study to determine the functionality of a dedicated laneway in Michigan. The process has been a public and private, co-creation effort between the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Cavnue. The overall vision of the project is to create a dedicated CAV laneway with flexibility and coordination capabilities to serve a variety of users: public transit, shuttles, personal vehicles, and freight. Cavnue’s research shows the vast potential benefits of the project including the creation of safe, reliable transit connecting job centers, improved policy goals such as accessibility for residents and visitors, continued innovation of Michigan, and the development of long-term technology.

For more information or to get involved with the Detroit Mobility Solutions Coalition, please contact Devon O’Reilly at

Automotive News: Industry Diversity Needed Now

The automotive industry finds itself at a defining moment with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our companies’ futures depend on our ability to attract, retain and develop talent. The growth, sustainability and financial well-being of our industry is directly correlated to making our work forces look more like the society in which we operate and the consumers we serve.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are not trends — they are necessities. This year has presented both tragedy and opportunity. The question is, can this industry truly embrace diversity, equity and inclusion and commit to transformative change?

Google the business case for diversity, and you will find multiple studies talking about the benefits of diversity on teams, in leadership and on boards. More specifically, companies with women and minorities in decision-making roles experience better financial performance, higher rates of return on investment and higher employee retention rates when compared with companies that do not. Studies have shown that companies with diverse leadership teams are eight times more likely to have better business outcomes, six times more likely to be innovative and agile and 21 percent more likely to outperform on profitability when in the top quartile for gender diversity. Cultural, gender and demographic diversity will make a difference in the long-term success of the auto industry.

So why is it that in a $400 billion industry we have so few women and minorities in top leadership roles? Numbers among management, middle management and entry-level employees are not much better. Although largely unpublished, our industry has higher attrition rates for women and minorities than for white male counterparts.

Anecdotally, we know the underlying issues — unwelcoming and noninclusive corporate cultures, inflexible work environments, lack of advancement opportunities and a lack of representation in upper levels. If our industry wants to thrive, or even survive, it must change.

Our shared experiences in the automotive industry equate to more than 60 years of work in tool and die, engineering, prototype development, advocacy, sales and marketing and manufacturing. What we know is this:

  1. Investments of time, resources and money in women and minorities in leadership have been inconsistent, resulting in slow progress over the last 20 years.
  2. People of color, the differently abled and other minorities cannot solve these issues without engagement from allies and strong company leadership.
  3. In the face of an industry talent shortage, we need to expand our efforts to fill open positions with a diverse, qualified work force.
  4. Other industries have blazed a trail for us to follow.
  5. Transformation is possible with the right engagement and support.
  6. This industry is built to solve problems.
  7. It is time to change the conversation, starting with top management. CEOs must be the owners and change agents.

We call on industry leaders and CEOs to take action now. Diversity, equity and inclusion are ideas and ideals that start with the corporate culture, but they also are supported by a system that details policies, practices and procedures that ensure a level playing field for everyone. It can be done. Will it take time? Yes. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. In an industry driven by metrics, the numbers will speak for themselves.

We often talk about how Michigan “put the world on wheels.” This industry was built by the innovation and grit of immigrants, by minorities who came from the South and other places looking for a new opportunity, and by men and women who were born and grew up in Michigan. It is time we remember our roots and understand that this inflection point can lead us to a bright future if we work collectively on systematic change.

Diversity has always mattered, but this inflection point mandates that we bring it culturally, strategically and tactically to the forefront of our companies. Our economic future and opportunity for all depend on it. Make the decision to implement change. We urge you not to stand still.

This piece was coauthored by MICHauto Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. and Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement’s CEO Cheryl Thompson.

*Originally published in Automotive News.

Detroit News: How Biden Could Accelerate Sweeping Change in Auto Industry

November 7, 2020

The Detroit News

By Breana Noble

President-elect Joe Biden could help accelerate the most sweeping technological shift in the auto industry since Henry Ford’s moving assembly line a century ago, analysts said, as automation, connectivity and electrification go mainstream and transform transportation as generations have known it.

President Donald Trump relaxed regulations for the industry and cut taxes, but he also called out CEOs on Twitter for decisions to close factories, build vehicles in Mexico and support California’s stricter fuel-economy standards. Biden’s leadership is expected to provide a less eruptive approach to the industry and trade.

Since Michigan is a key to rebuilding the so-called “blue wall” of labor support in the industrial Midwest, he also has promised to be “the most friendly” president to unions and to grow jobs in the industry.

“A Biden presidency would likely bring less volatility to the communication process and trade,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, a division of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “That is something the industry really needs and wants, which is an active line of communication with policymakers and dialogue on an ongoing basis. The industry needs stability because it is a capital-intensive, global business.”

Biden proposes to accelerate electric-vehicle production and adoption, a transformation already underway inside Detroit’s automakers and a growing set of start-up companies. The technological change requires billions of dollars in investments with significant implications on jobs and operations even as consumer acceptance remains uncertain.

“The auto sector’s overall vitality is critical to America’s economy and is the nation’s largest durable goods manufacturer, supporting more than 10 million jobs coast to coast,” said John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation that represents automakers in Washington. “Advancing cleaner, safer, smarter mobility will be a cornerstone to continuing the economic recovery from the COVID-19 public health situation as well as helping us meet our safety and environmental goals.”

The state that put America on wheels soon may have a different kind of ally in the White House. A more traditional Democrat, Biden has played up his role in the auto-industry bailout under President Barack Obama that began during the Bush administration. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was on Biden’s short list for vice president. And United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble called Biden “a friend of UAW members and labor.”

“Our members, our families and our communities are hurting in this pandemic and with economic challenges, health care challenges and workplace rights and safety challenges as union members,” Gamble said in a statement. “These are the issues that unite us as union members regardless of who is in power in the White House, in Congress or our courts.”

Ford Motor Co. — which has said it is investing $11 billion on future technologies — cited steadiness in policy Saturday when the race was called for Biden by the Associated Press: “It is our hope these leaders will focus on bringing the country together and pursue policies that encourage U.S. manufacturing, sustainability and global economic stability.”

General Motors Co. is spending $20 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, with 20 fully electric nameplates in its global portfolio by 2023. Cadillac could be a fully electric brand by 2030, and GM has shared plans for three U.S. manufacturing plants to produce electric vehicles.

“We look forward to working with the new administration and incoming Congress,” the Detroit automaker said in a statement, “on policies that support our customers, dealers and employees, help strengthen our manufacturing presence in the United States and advance our vision of an all-electric, zero-emissions future.”

Noting the industry is “one of the most powerful engines of the U.S. economy,” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it hopes to work with the new government “to strengthen the automotive industry and build a more secure future for our employees, customers and society.”

FCA is poised to consummate its transatlantic merger with Groupe PSA of France to increase investments in e-mobility. FCA previously said it plans to spend $10.5 billion on electrification efforts through 2022.

Despite those widely publicized plans, Biden in an October ABC town hall said without explanation on electric vehicles: “We’re not investing. We’re not doing any of the research.”

The former vice president said electrification efforts would save billions of gallons of oil and help create 1 million auto industry jobs even though electric vehicles require fewer parts and workers to make them. The federal government will purchase American-made electric vehicles, he said, though U.S. electric-vehicle sales in 2019 accounted for less than 5% of the total.

Detroit’s three automakers posted robust earnings for the third quarter, citing strong retail demand and pricing for trucks and SUVs. Under a tentative agreement GM has made with Canadian labor union Unifor, it would reverse course and return truck manufacturing to its Oshawa plant in Ontario.

“Right now you look at the price of oil and gas, and you do a cost-benefit analysis of these vehicles because of the advancements that have been made in these vehicles,” the Detroit chamber’s Stevens said. “You’re getting remarkable mileage on vehicles that traditionally did not. These are the market forces at play right now.”

Biden has said he would increase incentives for purchasing electric vehicles to increase consumer adoption, including a program he has mentioned that is reminiscent of a $3 billion Obama administration initiative known as “cash for clunkers” that helped more than 690,000 people buy a new car in 2009 with government rebates of up to $4,500. The program, he has said, would give Americans an incentive to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But those plans could be tempered if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor: “Anything there may be moderated by reaching bipartisan compromise on spending.”

The same is true for infrastructure investment. Biden has said he would deploy 500,000 charging stations by 2030, though even more will be needed for widespread adoption, Stevens said.

Biden has expressed a willingness to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords that would require the United States to be net-zero in carbon emissions by 2050. He may have more control over how to proceed with fuel-economy standards that Trump has rolled back from stricter regulations implemented under Obama and that have divided the auto industry.

The former vice president has suggested he would withdraw Trump’s challenge to California’s efforts to limit greenhouse gases, which Ford has supported. Meanwhile, GM and FCA have sided with the Trump administration, which called for a single national standard.

Stricter regulations could prove costly. A federal Court of Appeals in August overturned Trump’s delay in the more-than-double increase in penalties for automakers that do not meet fuel-economy standards. If that decision is applied to the 2019 model year, FCA says it could cost it up to almost $583 million.

But the challenges to the Trump rollbacks would take years to play out in the courts, Dziczek said: “Ending that will provide some more certainty for the auto industry.”

Likewise, Dziczek expected Biden will take a more predictable, strategic approach to tariffs and trade compared with Trump’s tactical efforts to use tariffs — or the threat of them — to pressure foreign nations into signing deals.

“If you were using tariffs as a way to protect the domestic industry and allow it to grow, you need to provide some long-term signals,” she said. “Investing in steel capacity and automotive capacity costs billions of dollars. These are long-term investments that last a long time and will be less affected by tariffs that are only for six months or eight months.”

Efforts to re-engage in multinational discussions, such as through the World Trade Organization and the Trans Pacific Partnership that Trump rebuffed, could be possible. Central to those engagements, Stevens said, would be bringing back manufacturing from other countries. Biden has suggested providing a 10% tax credit for certain investments that spur domestic manufacturing jobs but also a 10% “offshoring penalty tax” on the corporate tax rate for profits U.S. companies make on goods made overseas and sold here.

Those, too, however, would be subject to scrutiny in a new Congress that is on track to be more evenly divided between the Republicans and Democrats than the one it would replace come January.

Biden has promised to “stand up to China’s trade abuse,” implement “aggressive” trade enforcement actions against the Middle Kingdom and protect American intellectual property. That could lead to more auto-industry production in North America, particularly of batteries used in vehicles, noted Patrick Anderson, CEO of the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group LLC.

“We noted this in February when we called coronavirus a crisis that electric-car batteries and lithium and other rare-earth materials that have been sourced in China have become a high-risk commodity for auto manufacturers and supplies,” he said.

The “Made in America” emphasis is a similar message that had been touted by Trump, but with a different approach.

“What this election provided is a negative vote on the referendum for Donald Trump, but a cautiously positive vote in favor of a pro-business, modestly conservative approach to regulation and taxation,” Anderson said. “Americans voted to increase the number of Republicans in Congress and probably to keep Republican control of the Senate. Biden was not elected based on enthusiasm for aggressive climate-change policies.”

View the Original Article

An Insider View on the 2020 Election and What it Means for MICHauto

As election results continue to roll in, there is no question that our automotive and mobility industry will be impacted. In spite of a few unexpected developments, MICHauto sees that several of our industry voices and strongest advocates will remain for another term, providing the consistency we need to keep moving our state forward.

Presumed New Speaker and Minority Leader Considered Allies to the Industry

In somewhat of a surprise to many in the Capitol community, Republicans have maintained their control of the Michigan House of Representatives, with a 58-52 margin. The next Speaker of the House is presumed to be Rep. Jason Wentworth. Presumed Speaker Wentworth is suspected to be an even closer ally to the industry. Rep. Wentworth is expected to be supportive of MICHauto’s policy agenda and the specific issues we anticipate advocating for including talent initiatives to support the industry and its growth, policy that fosters business growth as well as the development of connected, smart city, automated, and electrified vehicle technology and infrastructure, and the positioning and branding of the state’s industry as a viable career option.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Donna Lasinski of Ann Arbor is currently favored to be the next House Minority Leader. Rep. Lasinski is a long-time friend of MICHauto and the Detroit Regional Chamber. She has a strong appreciation for the industry and mobility transformation, understanding its value to Michigan.

Upon confirmation, MICHauto will engage with both new leadership teams to discuss our policy priorities and committee chair assignments for the upcoming session.

Election Impact on the Auto Caucus

All four co-chairs of the Michigan Legislative Auto Caucus, Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Sen. Wayne Schmidt, Rep. Joe Tate, and Rep. Jim Lilly, will return for at least two more years. Both Tate and Lilly were up for reelection this year, with voters choosing to send them back to Lansing for another term. This tenure will provide a consistency of leadership and messaging within all four caucuses as the next legislative session begins.

Peters, Stevens Wins Important to the MICHauto Agenda

Two of the strongest advocates for the automotive industry in Congress survived hard-fought challenges. Sen. Gary Peters and Rep. Haley Stevens will return to their second terms in their respective chambers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, representatives from Peters’ and Stevens’ staffs have been in regular communication with MICHauto to ensure they understand the insights and needs of the industry. They have supported the industry re-opening in mid-May so that OEMs could get back online quickly, engaged in tariff discussions impacting our industry, and visited suppliers to see firsthand needs of the industry. Since mid-March, Peters, Stevens, and their offices have been on weekly MICHauto-led task force calls with the local industry. Together we have focused on the global COVID-19 pandemic to support the healthcare industry with manufacturing PPE, safely restarting and recovering the industry, and ensure the its long-term health and growth in the state.

On a broader scale, Democrats have retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives; Nancy Pelosi is currently presumed to be returning as Speaker of the House, and Kevin McCarthy as Minority Leader. With a slimmer Democratic majority, Republicans may exercise more leverage next term, particularly if they keep the Senate. The Senate majority is still currently undecided, standing at 48-48 with four races remaining.