Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to keep Michigan’s ‘pole position’ in autonomous vehicles with new agencyFebruary 26, 2020
By Emily Lawler
A new state agency and other administrative changes will help Michigan maintain its “pole position” in the auto industry as it branches into mobility and automation, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told a gathering of education and mobility experts at the MICHAuto summit on Tuesday.
“In the state that put the world on wheels and that’s home to some of the most innovating, driven workers on the planet, we must continue to work to solidify Michigan as a global leader in mobility,” Whitmer said in a statement.
The mobility industry includes things like autonomous, electric and connected vehicles and technologies.
On the hood of a car, Whitmer signed two executive orders: one creating the Michigan Office of Future Mobility under the and another creating the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification. Both are housed under the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.
The Michigan Office of Future Mobility, to bed led by a soon-to-be-named director, will coordinate mobility-related initiatives across areas like economic development, labor and infrastructure efforts.
The orders also abolish the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, which was created by a 2016 law and housed in the Michigan Department of Transportation, and create the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification. The new council will have 17 voting members and advise the governor and legislature on changes to state policy.
Both aim to capitalize on Michigan’s heritage as an auto state, but also move the state into the future “mobility” sector, focusing on things like autonomous vehicles.
The moves “will help us build on the success we’ve seen in the automotive and mobility sectors,” Whitmer said ahead of signing the executive orders.
Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said he’s looking for somebody who understands the industry very well and can help Michigan pivot to the future of the mobility industry.
Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said Whitmer “is building and expanding on the work to ensure that Michigan’s companies, infrastructure and people are ready to compete, ready to win, and ready to shape the next century of mobility.”
The executive orders earned praise from industry executives.
“FCA applauds the creation of the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and looks forward to working with the Governor and her team to help ensure Michigan remains the home of the quickly evolving mobility industry,” said Stephen J. Buckley, FCA senior technical fellow – electrical engineering in a press release.
Officials from Ford and General Motors also applauded the move.
Whitmer said in order to keep the state’s “pole position” in the industry she is also focused on bolstering the state’s workforce and fixing the state’s roads.