MICHauto Recognizes Dennis Hoeg as Volunteer of the Year

Dennis Hoeg, vice president and North America division president of Nexteer Automotive, was awarded the MICHauto Volunteer of the Year during the 2021 State of Automobility event. Each year MICHauto recognizes one person as its Volunteer of the Year. That person is someone who has consistently demonstrated our mission to promote, retain, and grow the automobility industry across the state of Michigan.

Hoeg is responsible for Nexteer’s North America business, and he is also a member of the company’s Global Strategy Council. Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, presented Hoeg with the award in person during a social distanced ceremony at Nexteer Automotive.

“Dennis has been an integral part of our MICHauto Board of Directors and an outstanding voice for our industry,” said Stevens. “We appreciate his efforts, especially during this last year, in advocating for safe return to work in the face of a pandemic.

“I am humbled by the award because this is what we do in the industry,” said Hoeg during the ceremony. “It has been a crazy year, but it also shows how resilient the industry is, especially the people. What they have been able to accomplish is amazing.”

Hoeg also outlined his vision for the future, “We remain focused on making Michigan the center of the mobility industry.”

As the industry takes meaningful steps towards becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, Hoeg has been at the forefront of that change as one of the founding members of the CEO Coalition for Change. Hoeg has been a leader across all of MICHauto’s pillars of engagement, from CEO Convening and Talent to Advocacy and New Mobility.

“He has shown leadership in being a founding member of the CEO Coalition for Change, as the industry takes meaningful steps towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce and community,” said Stevens.

Congratulations, Dennis.

In Case You Missed SOA 2021: Automotive Tech Talks

The second half of the State of Automobility presentation featured Automotive Tech Talks covering a variety of topics from the future of electrification to the evolution of the workplace.

John McElroy, host of Autoline, provided insights into the automotive industry’s change of pace to remain competitive in the 21st century but focused on the need for Michigan to step up and do its part.

The state of Michigan is facing an educational crisis with high rates of dropouts, absenteeism, and children who have fallen behind the curve. The downturn in educational attainment has in turn impacted the amount of skilled and educated talent that is available for Michigan’s workforce. In fact, in 2018 Amazon cited Detroit’s questionable ability to attract and retain young talent as part of the reason the city wasn’t chosen to host their North American headquarters.

McElroy suggests three solutions to fix the root of the educational issues:

  • Tutors
  • Counselors
  • Mentors

Notes McElroy, “The Detroit Regional Chamber with the Detroit Promise and the Detroit Promise Path are doing the right thing with Detroit students who want to go to college. Their programs includes things like coaches and could be a blueprint for how we move forward with K-12 students.”

On a federal level, McElroy suggests using government dollars to invest in things that will help the U.S. economy grow, prosper, and compete in the global economy, including the United States educational system.

“Educationally we are near the bottom and falling behind. Every year we condemn another generation to a lower standard of living. Every year our infrastructure grows a little bit older, and yet, we’ve got no plan to get back on track,” said McElroy. “We need to make this a part of the ongoing national debate, and Michigan needs to do it if it wants to keep the automotive industry.”

Automotive Tech Talk: BEV and Electrification Impact

Michael Robinet, executive director of IHS Markit Advisory, joined the State of Automobility presentation to discuss the future of electrification and battery electric vehicles.

The shift from internal combustion engines (ICE) to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has become a global movement in the major markets like Europe, North America, and China, hosting 85% of BEV production. This has created a need for the Michigan automotive companies to become more BEV-focused.

“Vehicle manufacturers are focusing vast majority of capital and resources on electrification,” said Robinet. “It’s important for Michigan as we make the transition from an ICE to a more BEV focused area. The traditional OEMs are starting that electrification push in their home markets…but they will quickly expand in other parts of the world, like GM going to China.”

Automotive electrification, which started small with compact vehicles, has now begun to move to the luxury and performance side. Robinet notes that these high-end vehicles are critical moving forward to the mass market.

With the influx of BEVs comes a new economy of scale that will drive the consolidation of smaller automotive companies. Smaller manufacturers are going to find it harder to differentiate themselves.

“There is a new cadence the industry needs to adapt to,” said Robinet. “We need to start thinking in six-to-seven-year buckets.”

Automotive Tech Talk: Evolution of How We Will Work in the Future

Over the last 12-months the build of the average workplace has shifted dramatically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ali Caravella, partner at WRK/360 joined the conversation to discuss the need for companies in Michigan to adjust to changes and invest in their culture to move the workplace forward.

Currently, Michigan is in flux. Businesses have not returned to a pre-COVID-19 normal (and likely never will) but have also not fully established a new normal.

Instead, Caravella hints at a “next phase of work,” one characterized by a need for organizations to be more willing to invest in their culture and show genuine care for their employees in order to promote retention.

Three Tiers of Focus as Michigan moves into the new phase of work:

  • Organizations
  • Managers
  • Employees

“People and the policy and programs that surround them need to be front of mind,” said Caravella. “Employees are looking for employers to be more transparent, provide more flexibility, and genuinely care about them as whole people. It’s helpful to have an approach that is inclusive, actionable, and repeatable.”

Suggested process for navigating the next phase of work:

  • Culture and Values: Organizations must commit or recommit to their culture and values.
  • Experimentation: The new world we are in has new ways of working, and businesses must be willing to try new things.
  • Measurement and Assessment: Organizations must collect data and assess as they experiment.
  • Employee Feedback: Along with data, organizations must listen to employees and utilize direct feedback when assessing workplace culture.
  • Strategy Refinement: Use the data and feedback to refine the company policy and strategy.
  • Leadership Alignment: Leaders across the organization must be aligned on the strategy and mission.

The next phase of work is characterized by adaptability and evolution, the workplace must be humanized at a time when employees need it more than ever.

Adds McElroy, “It’s going to be companies who invest in their culture that are going to be able to retain their employees.”

Automotive Tech Talk: The People Equation

Marc Siry, vice president of Strategic Development for Comcast Business, joined the Automotive Tech Talks to discuss the evolution of connectivity and its connection to the automotive industry.

Leading in mobility will take participation from everyone throughout the local and business communities. On a community level, electrification requires changes to the way energy is managed and delivered. At Comcast Business, they have focused on contributing to connectivity, including the human connection that technology directly empowers.

“Hand in hand with electrification comes autonomy,” said Siry, and Comcast is pushing that narrative as they work to electrify their entire fleet of tech vans to help round out a smart city strategy.

However, the connectivity evolution doesn’t always come easy. It takes a lot of planning on a community level to make sure all of these changes’ benefits everyone.

“The tech revolution has had many benefits but one downside has been the creation of a digital divide,” noted Siry. “At Comcast we have been addressing the digital divide for a decade now with our internet essentials program which provides low-cost internet to deserving residents, as well as, content to help with digital literacy and skills-based training.”

In Case You Missed SOA 2021: CEO Coalition for Change

During the 2021, State of Automobility virtual presentation, Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto, and Cheryl Thompson, chief executive officer and founder of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion, and Advancement (CADIA) sat down with Lisa Lunsford, chief executive officer and founder of Global Strategic Supply Solutions (GS3) and chair of the MICHauto Board of Directors for a conversation about the newly formed CEO Coalition for Change.

CADIA, in partnership with Stevens and the MICHauto team, Lunsford, and CEOs from 10 automotive companies developed the CEO Coalition for Change to address the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the automotive industry.

The Coalition, which started as a group of 12, launched in January and has since gained the attention of six more CEOs.

“The leadership of these organizations together is a difference-maker,” said Stevens. “Twelve founding members, now expanding, they’re the ones leading it.”

CADIA which was founded in 2018, initially focused on diverse talent on an individual-by-individual basis, but in 2019, started working with people who were championing diversity, equity, and inclusion across the industry.

“I just see us expanding, you know, all sectors within automotive. So right now, it’s very heavily focused on manufacturers. But I really would love to see us get into other sectors within automotive. The retail side – they’re closest to the customer,” said Thompson. “The beauty is the CEOs, you are the people with the levers, and you can influence change, and systemic change, that’s really, really important.”

Adds Lunsford, “One of the things I see in five years is being where we are not having this conversation, where it becomes more innate. I want to make sure what I feel inside becomes a part of the fabric of GS3.”

MICHauto Letter to State Workgroup Urges Safe Reopening of Offices

On March 24, MICHauto Executive Director, Glenn Stevens Jr., sent a letter to Sean Egan, the deputy director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, who is overseeing Gov. Whitmer’s Return-to-Office Workgroup, regarding the safe return to offices. MICHauto collected industry insight and feedback from automotive businesses throughout the state of Michigan on the importance of safely resuming in-person work. Current Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) emergency restrictions on in-person office work end on April 15.  The Workgroup is tasked with making recommendations to the governor on how those rules should be amended.

The current rules require employers to develop policies related to workers who are in-person and those who work from home, with guidance to remote work where possible. This has limited critical in-person interaction for the automotive industry, which relies on engineers, designers, and program managers collaborating for innovation. The automotive industry has been a leader for the state of Michigan in fighting the pandemic and restarting our economy. The “Safe to Work” playbooks and the #MaskUpMichigan campaign exemplify the seriousness with which the industry has taken employee and public health from the very beginning. Manufacturing reopened on May 11, 2020, and has stayed open since. The overwhelming perspective of MICHauto investors is that businesses need to be to responsibly return to the office.

View the official letter below or download it here

MICHauto supports JAMA’s First Michigan FAME Chapter Launch

Earlier this week, Bill Rayl, President of the Jackson Area Manufacturing Association (JAMA), kicked off the initial MI FAME JAMA Chapter founders meeting. FAME is the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, which is an umbrella for several training programs centered around Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) courses. Rayl started with a special thanks to Glenn Stevens Jr. and the MICHauto team for making the introductions and taking the initial steps towards getting this important work underway. This new chapter is a result of hard work, careful planning, and collaboration among JAMA, Toyota, FAME, MICHauto, and several stakeholders across the industry and academia.

As Michigan continues to face a shortage of skilled trades and middle-skill workforce in our signature automobility industry, the FAME program is an innovative solution to enhance advanced manufacturing skills. The AMT program develops global-best, entry-level multiskilled maintenance technicians through a specific academic foundation, deep integration of core manufacturing competencies, and on-site, intentional work/train experience for two years.

JAMA’s Michigan Apprenticeship Expansion Grant Award will be a contributing factor in expanding youth apprenticeships (age 16-24) in the region with funding available directly to employers for incentives and cost reimbursement beginning in April 2021. The first AMT Cohort class is scheduled to begin in August 2021 as additional employer and college partners engage over the next quarter.

For more information or to get involved in the first Michigan FAME chapter, contact Bill Rayl at brayl@mijama.org.

Exclusive Data Reveal and Auto Tech Talks: What’s on the Agenda for the 2021 State of Automobility

As the State’s only automotive cluster association, MICHauto is known for convening top industry leaders, innovators, and stakeholders to address challenges and celebrate progress. The 2021 State of Automobility event is no exception and will provide a timely update on MICHauto’s plans for the upcoming year, offer insight on the future of the automotive and mobility industry, and explore areas where stakeholders can work together to improve and create opportunities.

During this virtual gathering, MICHauto also will reveal the Mobility Contribution Report, which will outline the mobility industry’s economic contribution to the state. Attendees will be among the first to see this exclusive data and hear from a host of industry experts what the future of automotive and mobility look like. The mobility industry, as defined by the production and distribution of goods and services that support any movement of people and products, is important to Michigan because it creates solutions to congestion, emissions, safety, and equity. Identifying the industry’s impact on Michigan’s economy will enable us to better understand and harness the potential the industry has to solve these issues.

2021 State of Automobility Sponsors

Data Highlight: Automotive’s $225B Economic Contribution and Defining the Mobility Industry’s Impact

In August 2019, MICHauto released the Automotive Economic Contribution Study, conducted by Public Sector Consultants, that revealed the contribution of the automotive industry to Michigan’s economy. The study found that the automotive industry contributes a total of $225 billion to the state’s economy, 83% of which is directly attributed to automotive manufacturing. In addition, Michigan’s automotive industry directly employs nearly 291,000 workers statewide, which supports an additional 422,000 indirect jobs, totaling more than 712,000 jobs. Public Sector Consultants used a narrow definition of the automotive industry in the analysis, focusing on the automotive-related sectors, including motor vehicle manufacturing, automotive vehicle, and parts dealers and wholesalers, and automotive repair and maintenance.

With Michigan’s evolving and expanding mobility industry, made up of the automotive industry as well as tech-focused companies and last-mile solution developers and manufacturers, MICHauto initiated a more detailed study to determine the mobility industry’s contribution to Michigan’s economy. The mobility industry, as defined by the production and distribution of goods and services that support any movement of people and products, is important to Michigan because it creates solutions to congestion, emissions, safety, and equity. Identifying the mobility industry’s impact on Michigan’s economy will enable us to better understand and harness the potential the industry has to solve these issues.

The Mobility Economic Contribution study will be released at the State of Automobility event on March 24, 2021. Click here to register.

EV transition shakes up Michigan’s automotive supply chain

February 28, 2021


By: Andy Balaskovitz

As major automakers and government officials pledge ambitious electric vehicle targets over the coming decade, Michigan’s automotive suppliers are adapting to a business environment that’s swiftly changing yet still firmly rooted in internal combustion engines. 

“It is our longer-term future, but I must also say that I don’t expect the internal combustion engine on a pickup truck is going away anytime soon,” said Pat Greene, president of Grand Rapids-based Tier 2 supplier Cascade Die Casting Group Inc. “It’s an exciting time. From what we understand, it’ll go pretty slow then accelerate pretty quickly.”

Amid the high-level proclamations from automakers, elected officials, utilities and other corporate players, Michigan auto suppliers are contending with a sector that’s rapidly shifting in concept but moving much slower in practice. However, experts say the market has enough momentum that it requires suppliers to prepare for the new industry or risk being left behind.

Mike Wall, director of automotive analysis with IHS Markit in Grand Rapids, said West Michigan auto suppliers he works with are already “well down the road” to making EV-specific components like battery trays and separators. 

“If any suppliers out there are not actively courting electrification, they’ve definitely got to get on it,” Wall said. “The horse is out of the gate. It’s coming.”

Supplier food chain

In late January, GM announced that it would phase out gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 in a move that shook the auto industry. A few weeks later, Ford announced an all-electric target for passenger vehicles in Europe by 2030. 

Those are just two companies in a global OEM ecosystem that has pledged tens of billions of dollars in investments and dozens of new electrified models in the coming decade.

“There’s no question this is one of the most dynamic and fluid times in our auto and mobility history,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, a statewide auto industry association. “This electric vehicle inflection point is very real.”

Greene, who’s also chairman of the North American Die Casting Association, points out that rural pickup drivers aren’t likely to make a swift transition to electric vehicles.

“At the same time, as a business, we need to make sure we’re embracing the strategy of our customers,” he said.

Cascade Die Casting makes parts that would also be used in electric vehicles — such as mirrors and electric sound system components — but is increasingly interested in powertrain components found in EVs.

Suppliers like Cascade are “following the lead” of Tier 1 suppliers that are in turn following the OEMs, which have set varying degrees of EV production and investment targets.

“We’re going to work with them on anything electric as it comes along,” Greene said. “We’ve looked at a lot of drawings our customers have sent with quite a bit of interest.”

Stevens called this the automotive “food chain,” in which OEMs take cues from market demand to guide their investment philosophy, while major Tier 1 suppliers are guided by the automakers, and so on down the line.

“It’s a bigger challenge as you go down the food chain, but they all have to figure out what’s the demand curve going to look like,” Stevens said. “We’ve got new technology, changing consumer preferences and regulation and policy changes from the new administration. Add those things up, and there’s no question these things are happening. From a supplier’s perspective, companies that are nimble, financially strong and have strategic relationships with customers are going to be the winners.”

Volume, market shifts

A key change coming for suppliers involves order volumes, which at this point are relatively low for EV models but are expected to increase.

“When (an order) has electric components, we’re pursuing it,” Greene said. “We think the low could turn into high volumes.”

In time, this will have the opposite effect with potentially lower volume orders for internal combustion-powered vehicles, experts say. That’s coupled with the fact that EV propulsion systems have a fraction of the components as internal combustion engines.

“We’ve got to be ready for the fact that there’s going to be some fallout,” Greene said. “That’s going to be a loss of business, and we’ve got to make sure we’re on the front end of looking at other applications for electric vehicles.”

While Wall said suppliers’ new products will depend on the type of vehicle components they make, the volume shift will likely be widespread.

“One thing that all suppliers are going to have to do is prepare themselves for the fact that because we have all of these new electric vehicles coming down the pike and because we have existing vehicles on the market that are internal combustion, there’s going to be potential to have lower volume runs, lower throughput and lower sales per nameplate,” he said. “That’s what could complicate things for suppliers. It’s a big consideration.”

In mid February, Eaton Corp.’s Vehicle Group announced it’s developing gearing solutions for commercial electric vehicles that aim to improve a vehicle’s range and performance. The company previously formed an eMobility portfolio that is “dedicated to advancing EV components for power distribution and protection, power electronics, and power systems,” Anthony Cronin, director of EV gearing for Eaton’s Auto Group, said in an email. The company has West Michigan manufacturing operations in Galesburg, east of Kalamazoo. 

Cronin said the auto supply chain market “continues to see a significant wave of new entrants to the space that have experience in higher-power applications but would not be considered traditional automotive players.”

He also noted the likely continuing trend of M&A activity in the sector, “especially with recent announcements from both GM and Ford around their plans for zero emission vehicles in the not-too-distant future.”

Varying forecasts

The underlying unknown surrounding the EV sector is just how much adoption will take place and when, particularly in the passenger vehicle market. Adoption levels are dependent on a variety of factors — charging infrastructure availability, government incentives, battery prices, models that suit consumer preferences and, to a growing extent, how much fleet vehicles will push the market as a whole.

But that landscape is shifting quickly, Wall said.

“We’re only on the cusp of a deluge of new EV (models) hitting the market,” he said. “Suppliers we know in the West Michigan market are being asked to quote on this new business.”

Although adoption rates for electric vehicles in the U.S. remain relatively low, that flood of new models should keep companies from being “lulled into complacency” or getting “too bearish” on EVs, Wall said.

“The challenge is in this gray period,” he said. “Adoption rates are still at the lower end, and it’s not going to derail internal combustion. This will be a progression. That’s why it’s important that suppliers have to be mindful of their traditional book of business.”

Cascade Die Casting’s Greene is fully immersed in the gray period.

“There’s been a lot of hype the last couple of years, but not a lot of conversion to electric,” Greene said. “But we’ve got to stay close to it and know that a tipping point is going to come.”

View original article here.

MICHauto Voices Support for New Hands-Free Driving Legislation

MICHauto this week applauded the recent re-introduction of bipartisan hands-free driving legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives as part of an ongoing effort over the past two years to enact updated statute for Michigan’s roadways. MICHauto previously testified in support of similar legislation during the 2019-2020 legislative session.

Cell phones cause approximately 70,000 crashes each year on U.S. roads. Notably, the vast majority of people injured or killed in such an accident are not the driver, but other occupants of that vehicle, occupants of another vehicle, or pedestrians. If adopted, Michigan would join 22 other states who have enacted similar legislation to make our roads safer.

“Technology is changing rapidly, and with that change comes challenge and opportunity. Our laws must evolve with that change to enable the technology and most importantly save lives,” said Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director for MICHauto. “MICHauto is proud to partner with industry leaders in urging the Michigan legislature to adopt expanded legislation that keeps phones out of people’s hands while driving and makes our roads safer.”

House Bills 4277 (Manoogian), 4278 (Mueller), and 4279 (Bellino) have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and MICHauto is actively engaged in conversations with lawmakers. Companies who wish to engage in this issue can contact Jason Puscas at jpuscas@michauto.org.

Town Hall Recap: Stellantis Voices in Action

On Feb. 24, Stellantis held a second Voices in Action town hall.  Shane Karr, head of external affairs for NAFTA of Stellantis moderated the conversation with Hilary Cain, vice president of technology, innovation and mobility policy at Alliance Automotive Innovation, and Glenn Stevens Jr., vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives at the Detroit Regional Chamber and executive director of MICHauto. The three discussed key policy issues and barriers to the implementation of autonomous vehicles.

While autonomous vehicles have many potential benefits, there is some confusion at the federal, state, and local levels on how to regulate them. One reason this has been such a challenge, Cain said, is that there is not a comprehensive regulatory framework in place at the federal level yet. Vehicle standards were written years ago with the basic assumption of a human driver using a steering wheel and brake pedals, for example.  These standards are fundamentally incompatible with a vehicle that does not require a human driver. It can take years to update vehicle standards, so the focus now is on getting a workable interim framework that allows this technology to move forward while standards are updated.

Looking at regulation from a state perspective, Stevens Jr. highlighted that the industry is at an inflection point where companies and policies need to evolve, or risk being left behind. In Michigan, there is a clear focus on developing new technologies and implementing testing centers to enable those technologies. This can be seen from the high level of engagement from Governor Schneider to Governor Whitmer, as both have continued to press our state forward. This is a non-partisan issue, and the state is focused on doing what is required to remain a global leader in automotive and mobility.

Aside from federal and state regulation, there is another key element to successfully deploying autonomous vehicles: consumer acceptance. Cain and Stevens Jr. agree that with any new technology there is going to be some skepticism and fear. The best way to overcome that is by enabling consumers to have exposure to these new technologies in a safe environment, to become familiar with them and how they function, and to experience new use case scenarios.  Interestingly, Cain believes that the COVID-19 pandemic helped in exposing a number of new use cases that were not within the consciousness of the consumers even a year ago.

Stevens Jr. points to three key things that need to happen for consumers to accept such an advanced technology:

  • Consumers must understand why the technology is important and how it improves safety, congestion, and emissions.
  • Technology must be made available for people to experience it directly and become comfortable with it.
  • Conversation around use cases to improve understanding of how this technology is used in positive ways to advance public health and safety.

One question that remains top of mind for companies and consumers alike is, who is responsible? The liability topic is a big one and involves the barriers to implementation of autonomous vehicles. Just like it is difficult to regulate a vehicle without a human driver, it is difficult to point the blame when an accident takes place involving a vehicle that drives itself. While legal experts would like to have some clarity around this point, it may not be addressed before autonomous vehicles hit the road due to our robust justice system and ability to assess on a case-by-case basis.