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APMA 2020 Conference: Why Invest in Partnerships

For the first time in 68 years, the APMA Conference was held virtually Nov. 18-20 to focus on Canada’s renaissance in automotive. Much like neighboring Detroit, Canada is focusing on zero emissions by 2050 and working with OEMs and research partners to progress in the electric vehicle (EV) sector. Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association opened the three-day event by celebrating the recent commitments of Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and General Motors Co. (GM) to grow the automotive ecosystem and focus on EVs. The 72 industry experts participating in the conference walked through the opportunities, threats, challenges, and aspirations of the sector.

Carolyn Sauer, senior director of MICHauto participated in a panel session, Why Invest in Partnerships, moderated by Matt Johnson, executive director of the Institute of Border Logistics and Security for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation along with four other industry experts. Based in the Windsor-Detroit channel, this panel explored the opportunities that could blossom from bi-national partnerships and investments. Especially in this new environment, the importance of investing in partners and sharing a connected approach allows for:

  • Building and growth of our research and talent pipeline.
  • Strengthening our trade and global competitiveness.
  • Connecting and growing our innovation assets.
  • Building a more inclusive and diverse ecosystem.

With more than 26% of North American light vehicle production being manufactured in the Great Lakes Region across Michigan and Canada, the sharing of resources in manufacturing and IT across our region has been prevalent. The pandemic has driven a trend towards localization, and this poses a significant opportunity for our region to lead the globe in new technology and EVs.

When it comes to emerging technology, many people think of Silicon Valley as a leader in forward thinking and new technology development. Asked how Michigan and Canada can work together to improve regions ranking, Hind Ourahou, senior mobility strategist for the City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation, says there is no comparison.

“Silicon Valley emerged as this IT and software powerhouse that immediately attracted young professionals with its new way of working and forward thinking. But Silicon Valley does not have the longstanding history and capability of making things. The only place in North America where you can overlay the circle of manufacturing and IT is right here. The Great Lakes region is really where it all comes together,” said Sauer.

Collectively, panelists agreed that more can be done to spread the word about our unique collaborations and opportunities in the region. We need to continue working together, not just to advance technology, but to promote our brand as an industry – high-tech, real, and thriving. Software developers, programmers, and data scientists are needed to make it work. There is something really special about Detroit’s partnership with Canada.

“We’re the real powerhouse that’s going to keep moving this forward.  We make an impact, we make the product, and we make the change,” said Sauer.