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Glenn Stevens Jr. Talks MI Future Mobility Plan, Michigan Economy, NAIAS Future

Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OMFE) announced its MI Future Mobility Plan during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) industry preview days. The plan is a comprehensive strategy that addresses future mobility challenges by growing the mobility workforce, providing more accessible transportation infrastructure, and developing innovative mobility policies.

Following the announcement was a panel discussion on the state’s mobility strategy and a unified approach to strengthen Michigan’s economy and enhance statewide communities through responsive policy, dynamic programming, and more.

Glenn Stevens Jr., executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Detroit Regional Chamber, joined the discussion on the NAIAS Antrim Stage with moderator Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer for the State of Michigan, along with:

  • Tremaine Phillips, Commissioner, Michigan Public Service Commission
  • Emily Frascaroli, Global Director, Automotive Safety Office, Ford Motor Company

 

Mobility Plan Will Set State Goal of Two Million EVs by 2030

Kicking off the conversation, Pawl asked Phillips to explain the plan’s importance and how to bridge the gap between economic development and the communities it affects. Phillips explained the state’s Healthy Climate Plan was related to this Mobility Plan, which aims to “build out the full value of vehicle electrification for Michigan residents.”

“Building out the necessary infrastructure for two million EVs by 2030 is a tremendous, ambitious effort. This plan really sets forth that pathway for us to reach that end goal,” Phillips said. “Vehicle electrification can provide energy resilience for communities and households. It has the ability to put downward pressure on electricity grids… [and] provides the ability for us to mitigate climate change and create healthier, more breathable air, especially for those communities that have been historically most harmed by environmental injustice.”

Talent and Collaboration are Key to Success

Next, Stevens was asked about how Michigan can seize the opportunity to gain more mobility jobs and harness valuable talent. He shared that nothing in the plan is “relevant” without talent and acknowledged Michigan’s population and migration flow challenges.

“I’m encouraged by the things I’m seeing already. There’s already tremendous collaboration [between companies in Michigan and MEDC] because they’re all having talent conversations,” he said. “[In the MI Future Mobility Plan,] there are pillars, tactics, and objectives to make sure people have opportunities for the future.”

Phillips agreed, adding “it has the potential for us to be able to change the lives of families, households, communities, and generations. It’s always something of this pillar of the plan that’s so important and critical.”

Everyone Plays a Critical Role in Safer Roads, Travel

When asked about safety as a role in infrastructure, vehicles, and other forms of mobility, Frascaroli stressed the importance of automotive manufacturers, infrastructure, and drivers all working together to create better solutions.

“The latest data we’ve seen shows that traffic fatalities are increasing at a relatively larger pace, so the topic of road safety is really important,” she said. “There are connected, automated technologies that have a lot of potential for safety. But they can’t deliver that all on their own. We have to work together on all of the holistic pieces of the transportation system to help get those fatality numbers down.”

Utilize the Power of Leading Automotive Research and Development in the Nation

Pawl noted that Michigan has the highest ranking in automotive research and development in the nation, which “doesn’t make sense” considering its otherwise average rankings in other categories, like startups. Stevens said talent and funding could be solid solutions to how the state can “harness” the power that comes with this type of ranking.

“It’s clear that talent and innovation goes hand-in-hand. There has to be an environment where the companies can thrive,” Stevens said, using the Ford Central Station, TechTown, and future startups in Northern Michigan as examples. “People have to feel like funding will flow too. Funders will be where the ecosystems are strong. I think we’re moving in the right direction. But [talent] will come if the funding is here and if the innovators can consume that technology too.”

Michigan’s Unmentioned Top Competitive Advantages

When asked about Michigan’s more underrated competitive advantages, Phillips shared that Michigan will be “ground zero” in workforce transitioning, citing the current clean energy transition. Frascaroli agreed, citing how the University of Michigan students she teaches are now concerned about making the world better through tech more than ever before.

Detroit Auto Show, 18 Years From Now

In closing, Pawl asked the panel what the Detroit Auto Show will look like in 2040 – if the industry and state “get the next 18 years right.” Phillips theorized it “could be a connected smart city show, with vehicles being just an aspect” of the experience. Stevens agreed, adding how centralized vehicles will continue to be, and pressed the importance of the economy and companies evolving with the times.

“I think it’ll still have a sense of community — because it is our show — but our economy and companies have to evolve,” he said. “I think it’ll look very different, but it’ll have the same core things that have made it special for many, many years.”

View the full MI Future Mobility Plan here.