Industry Diversification: Defense Meets Automotive

The 2020 MICHauto Summit brought two major industries together to discuss pathways to collaboration in a panel featuring Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Michigan and Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber Tammy CarnrikeDirector of Next Generation Combat Vehicle for the U.S. Army Futures Command Brigadier General Ross Coffman, and President and CEO of Safety Technology Holdings and Humanetics Innovative Solutions Christopher O’Connor 

Host of “Autoline” John McElroy, who moderated the panel, asked O’Connor how companies like Humanetics can become suppliers to the military. 

“It’s challenging in terms of identifying what the need is and how to apply that product, and then how to be competitive with the other players,” said O’Connor. 

Much of what already exists in companies also exists in the military, added Coffman. He shared that he wants to see more of Detroit and Michigan become involved with partnerships and collaborations. The autonomous vehicle space is huge for the military here, he noted. 

More than 60 years ago, Humanetics was developing aircraft ejection seats, said O’Connor. Most of the original products the company created were military based. 

“I spent 35 years in the army and in the army reserves,” said O’Connor. “Our introduction into the military and trying to work with developing products for injuries was near and dear to our background.” 

McElroy discussed with Carnrike how her role as civilian aide ties into her Chamber positionAs civilian aide, Carnrike is the eyes and the ears in the state of Michigan for the army, she explained. Her job is to help with recruitment and look for new opportunities for collaboration with the business industry, particularly automotive and manufacturing.  

“Most people don’t understand that the US Army is like a very large corporation,” said Carnrike. “Bringing in my Chamber job and understanding our business community through our MICHauto program, there’s such an opportunity for cross pollination.”  


Thanks to Kettering University for sponsoring this session. 

Roundup of Top Announcements from the 2019 NAIAS

This week all eyes were on Detroit as the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) kicked into full gear. Below is a recap of the most newsworthy stories and announcements coming out of NAIAS and Automobili-D, as well as what to look forward as you visit the show.


  • Congratulations to Genesis Motor America, Ram Trucks and Hyundai Motor Company – recipients of the 2019 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards. Announced this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The awards are among the most prestigious in the industry. Winners are chosen by a panel of 54 jurors from print, online and broadcast media across the United States and Canada.
  • Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford Motor Company and Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen announced today that both company’s have decided to work together to cut the cost of new technology development in a joint alliance.
  • Making waves on Tuesday, Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas and Jessica Robinson, who both spoke at MICHauto’s Student Summit this past October, announced the Detroit Mobility Lab is launching the Michigan Mobility Institute in Detroit. The institute will focus on educating and re-educating engineers in AI, robotics and other mobility needs. The Michigan Mobility Institute was created as a way to answer the need for the estimated 100,000 new mobility jobs to come with future mobility.
  • Techstars Mobility announced a new name, Techstars Detroit, along with a new partnership with Lear Corporation and new home at the Lear Innovation Center.
  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced four pilot projects funded by the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge that will address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans across the state.
  • Eyes on Design awards were awarded to Axalta for “Innovative Use of Color, Graphics or Materials,” ABC Technologies for “Best Interiors” and Ford Motor Co.’s 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 for “Best Production Vehicle.”


  • Ford Motor Company: Revealed the new Shelby GT500, the most powerful street legal Mustang ever. With more features and more power, the Shelby GT500 produces more than 700 horsepower sending it from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds.
  • RAM: Making its debut at NAIAS, Ram rolled out their new heavy-duty Ram 2500. Offering advanced safety features including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning on all versions. The Ram 1500 also scooped up as the truck of the year award.
  • Toyota Motor Corp.: Aiming to return to Toyota’s signature, performance and excitement, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda revealed the new Toyota Supra on Monday. As Toyota’s commitment to Michigan to continues to thrive, this announcement was felt throughout Detroit as the excitement around the newly unveiled vehicle increased.
  • Nissan EV: Focused on luxury, Nissan reveled the IMs concept EV. The concept is explained as a “elevated sports sedan” the concepts proportions positions the vehicle as a segment of its own due to its electric vehicle identity and unique features.

View photos and read more coverage from NAIAS.