MICHauto Helped to Facilitate New Partnership Between City of Detroit and Honda

Glenn Stevens Jr.

While the City of Detroit’s COVID-19 cases continued to rise in early April, a new problem arose – how to safely transport sick Detroiters without transportation from theirs home to the hospitals to receive care? With more and more front line workers testing positive for COVID-19 as well, first responders were not able to keep up with the logistics duties.  A number of volunteers that could transport people stepped up, but without a way to protect the drivers from those who were ill – it would just create a larger problem for Detroit that quickly became a hotbed for the virus.

Mark de La Vergne, the chief of Mobility Innovation for the City of Detroit, put out a call for help.  The question posed to the vast mobility ecosystem in Detroit was, “could we connect the City to a company or solution for this problem?”

On April 15, as I was scanning the latest global automotive industry news, I noticed an article in the Channel News Asia website titled “Honda deploys it’s minivans to transport virus patients.”  In that article I saw a solution for our community here in Detroit. Honda Motor Company in Japan had modified 50 Odyssey minivans with a protective barrier and changes to the HVAC system to protect the driver from the sick citizen in the rear of the vehicle.

I immediately sent this article to de La Vergne at the City and suggested that a colleague in Detroit who works for Honda Communications would be the best and most effective channel to elevate an inquiry from the City of Detroit. It seemed like just the solution we were looking for.

This past weekend, de La Vergne notified me that the City followed up on the potential solution and a partnership was in the process of being forged.  View the full partnership announcement here.

For the past three years MICHauto has helped lead several partnerships to convene organizations and groups around common themes and needs for the automotive and mobility industry to help solve problems through information sharing.  One of those groups is the Detroit Mobility Coalition, a joint effort by the City of Detroit and MICHauto that convened OEMS, suppliers, foundations, economic development groups, startups, and neighborhood associations to focus on transportation and mobility technologies and solutions to improve the lives of Detroiters.

The communication that transpired the last couple of weeks to help bring this Honda solution to Detroit is just one example of how Detroiters innovate through mobility and global automotive technology to solve problems and come together.

Glenn Stevens Jr. is the executive director of MICHauto and the vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.


Detroit-area Residents will be Transported to COVID-19 Testing in Modified Honda Odyssey Minivans

DETROITMay 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Honda today delivered 10 Odyssey minivans to the City of Detroit that have been specially outfitted to transport people potentially infected with COVID-19, as well as healthcare workers.  To protect the health of the driver from the potential for droplet infection during transportation, the Honda Odysseys have been retrofitted with a plastic barrier installed behind the front seating area, as well as modifications to the ventilation system to maintain an air pressure differential between the front and rear seating areas.

Honda delivered 10 Odyssey minivans to the City of Detroit to transport local residents and healthcare workers to COVID-19 testing.

These Honda vehicles have been specially outfitted with a plastic barrier installed behind the front seating area and modifications to the ventilation system to help protect the driver from potential infection during transportation.

After seeing news reports about similar specially equipped vehicles modified by Honda in Japan, officials from the state of Michigan and the City of Detroit approached Honda in the U.S. in mid-April about the possibility of acquiring similar vehicles for use in transporting local residents and healthcare workers to COVID-19 testing.  A team of volunteers at Honda’s R&D center in Raymond, Ohio, including senior engineers and fabrication experts, quickly conceived and designed a method to modify the U.S. Odyssey at the Honda R&D Americas vehicle development center in Raymond, Ohio, where it was originally developed.

“As of today, the City of Detroit has tested over 20,000 residents and employees for COVID-19.  Transportation is a critical component of ensuring every Detroiter has access to a test.  We are very appreciative of Honda for choosing Detroit to deploy these newly modified vehicles,” said Mayor Mike DugganCity of Detroit.

The team of Honda engineers and experts in Ohio took the project from the initial concept to completion in less than two weeks.  All material fabrication and installation, and adjustments to the software for the Odyssey’s ventilation system, was done entirely in-house.

“We’re very proud of the efforts made by Honda engineers in Ohio to quickly devise a plan and modify a small fleet of Honda Odyssey minivans to support the people of Detroit in the face of this unprecedented global pandemic,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “This project is one of many initiatives being undertaken by Honda and our associates to support communities throughout the country during this very difficult time.”

The Odyssey minivan modified in Japan is a smaller vehicle than the eight-seat U.S. version of the Honda Odyssey that was designed, developed and engineered in the U.S. and is made exclusively at a Honda plant in Lincoln, Alabama.

“Several members of our team have family members or friends working in the medical field to battle COVID-19 or know people who have family members battling COVID-19 infection and this became a very personal challenge to help potential victims and their families,” said Mike Wiseman, senior director for Strategic and Materials Research of Honda R&D Americas, LLC, who led the project.  “At Honda, we believe the purpose of technology is to help people and make their lives better and we were humbled to make this commitment to potentially help save lives.”

Odyssey Modification Process:
Honda engineers in Ohio installed a sealed clear polycarbonate (plastic) panel between the front seat compartment and rear two-row seating area by removing the handgrips on the structural roof pillar (B-pillar), behind the first row, replacing it with new brackets to attach the clear panel.  A second attachment bracket was fabricated and attached to the lower front seat belt anchor point for a total of three secure attachments on each side.

In conjunction with the installation of the clear polycarbonate barrier, the Odyssey’s ventilation system software was tuned to maintain a more positive pressure zone within the front compartment to establish a designed air pressure differential between the front and rear seating areas, greatly reducing the potential for droplet infection migration during transportation.

Honda R&D engineers in Ohio designed the software that controls the ventilation system on the current-generation Odyssey. This core knowledge enabled engineers to tune the software to assure the air pressure differential is compliant with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for negative pressure rooms in medical and research facilities.  Specifically, the software is tuned to run the blower motor powering the fans in the front seating area faster than the fans for the rear seating area. The resulting air pressure differential creates a more negative pressure chamber in the rear seating area, with rear compartment air exhausted out the vents in the rear of the vehicle.

Comments from State of Michigan Officials:
“When we developed our transportation service to the COVID-19 testing sites, we quickly realized that a lack of separation between the driver and passenger would be a limiting factor in our capacity to transport patients. This innovation from the Honda team will be critical to transporting passengers during this time,” said Mark de la Vergne, Chief of Mobility Innovation for the City of Detroit.

“Honda’s speed in addressing this challenge, paired with Detroit’s willingness to find and detail a use case for Honda, made this a model public-private partnership. The state’s goal is to conduct 15,000 tests a day. This kind of ingenuity will help us get there faster,” said Trevor Pawl, Senior Vice President at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and head of PlanetM, the state’s mobility initiative.

“As the conveners of the Detroit Mobility Coalition in partnership with the City for the past several years, MICHauto is committed to facilitating connections such as this to benefit our communities. This partnership with Honda in a time of crisis, is an ideal example of the importance of our mobility ecosystem to connect our local and state leadership and the automotive and mobility industry together. MICHauto is pleased to play a role in helping to facilitate this information and technology transfer,” said Glenn Stevens, Executive Director, MICHauto and Vice President, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives, Detroit Regional Chamber.

Honda Response to COVID-19:
Honda has undertaken several initiatives to harness the spirit of the community in responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Honda has teamed up with Dynaflo Inc. to produce diaphragm compressors, a key component of portable ventilators that are used in hospitals and by first responders to help those stricken with the COVID-19 virus. The companies aim to produce 10,000 compressors per month once production reaches capacity.
  • Honda associates have been deploying the company’s 3D printers to produce components for face shields at various company operations, with Honda engineers now working on a method to mass-produce the frames for face shields in Honda facilities.
  • Ten Honda facilities in North America donated over 200,000 items of Personal Protective Equipment to support healthcare providers and first responders, including gloves, face shields, N95 protective masks, alcohol wipes, half-mask respirators and other types of protective gear.
  • Honda has pledged $1 million to address food insecurity in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, providing donations to food banks and meal programs.
  • Honda also has initiated a COVID-19 Special Matching Gift Program that enables associates to make monetary donations to food programs in their local communities, matching up to $1,000 for each individual associate. The matching fund is in addition to Honda’s $1 million pledge.

About Honda in North America
Honda established operations in America in 1959 and today employs more than 40,000 associates in the development, manufacturing, and sales of Honda and Acura automobiles, Honda power equipment, Honda Powersports products, the HondaJet advanced light jet and GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines.

Based on its longstanding commitment to “build products close to the customer,” Honda operates 19 major manufacturing facilities in North America, working with more than 600 suppliers in the region to produce a diverse range of products for customers locally and globally. In 2019, more than 90 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America, using domestic and globally sourced parts.

Honda also operates 14 major research and development centers in the U.S. with the capacity to fully design, develop and engineer many of the products Honda produces in North America.

Honda R&D Americas employs more than 2,000 associates in the U.S. in the research, design, development, and engineering of a variety of products including cars and trucks, ATVs and side-by-side vehicles and power equipment products. About 1,500 engineers and other staff are employed at the R&D center in Raymond, Ohio, located about 40 miles west of Columbus.

SOURCE Honda

 

Take 5: What Comes First, Talent or Business?

By: Paul Vachon

In the wake of Detroit’s failed bid to host Amazon’s second world headquarters, how much of a factor was Detroit’s talent pool? Many business leaders believe if Amazon came to Detroit, talent would follow. However, Amazon cited a lack of existing talent in Detroit as a key factor in being left off the final list.

So, which is it? Does talent follow business or does business invest in locations with an existing talent pool?

National economic experts say its both while also noting the importance of investing local infrastructure to retain homegrown talent and positively impact their quality of life. Urban expert Richard Florida of the University of Toronto correlates the linkage between areas with mass transit lines, quality educational facilities, and public green spaces with strong economic growth.

As the region’s leaders work together to position Detroit as a contender for the next major investment, here is what some leaders in education, economic development, city government and business had to say:

David DeMuth, CEO, Doner Company

“Attracting talent can’t wait. If you’re running a business which relies on talent, you must compete on a national basis. You need to attract talent from some of the nation’s greatest cities, like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago — as well as emerging places like Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tenn. We can’t wait for the infrastructure to be upgraded. We must outline a compelling opportunity to a candidate using the assts we already have to make the argument. Talent waits for no one.”

Dan Ngoyi, Director, Talent Acquisition, Quicken Loans Family of Companies

“I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. One priority does not have to precede the other. After Quicken Loans first moved downtown, and after Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy, some infrastructure enhancements occurred. As more companies arrived, the resulting talent surge drove additional improvements, such as the QLine. So, the two priorities can certainly feed off each other, and develop simultaneously.

Justin Robinson, Vice President, Business Attraction, Detroit Regional Chamber

“The first piece is to understand what infrastructure assets we have now as a differentiator. This will allow for employers to make a strong business case to potential employees. But then the region does need to pause and address the issue of “placemaking,” which is fundamental to our long-term success. Most people still choose job over place, but our research suggests they’re pretty close as prospective workers weigh their options.

M. Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University

“We have to approach the challenge of talent attraction and retention from all angles. Having said that, I do believe that we are losing potential talent to other cities with more advanced infrastructure. People are drawn to places for different reasons, and Southeast Michigan is attractive in many ways. The availability of excellent higher education opportunities and health care, a city in the midst of an impressive rebound, and outstanding cultural and other entertainment offerings are among the many attractions. Yet, without better infrastructure, particularly roads and public transit, it will become increasingly difficult to compete with locations such as Chicago, Boston, Denver and Pittsburgh — all places that have made substantial infrastructure investments in the recent past.”

“Certainly, some talent follows companies but more often, companies will follow talent. Studies by renowned economists have proven this theory. The unemployment rate is under 4 percent, which is extremely low; IT and engineering positions are below 2 percent. Clearly the talent pool in the United States is in a crisis. Michigan has some of the finest universities in the country but is being challenged with retaining talent. We are making strides to change this paradigm via the Marshall Plan for Talent and ChooseMichigan.org initiative.”

Ronia Kruse
President and CEO, OpTech

Jeff Donofrio, Director, Workforce Development, City of Detroit

“When a major company is looking at locating in Detroit, the first thing that they ask us about is the talent pool. This is why we are focused on building and developing the talent of Detroiters. Our goal is to increase the talent pool with our existing residents to advance our competitiveness in attracting new business investment.”

Paul Vachon is a metro Detroit freelance writer.

Mayor Mike Duggan Proclaims Oct. 7-12 Mobility Week in Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan has joined businesses across the city and region to celebrate Detroit’s global leadership in automotive next-generation mobility technology by issuing a proclamation that recognizes this week, Oct. 7-12, “Mobility Week” in Detroit.

Through collaborative efforts by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto initiative, Quicken Loans Community Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and PlanetM, TechStars Mobility and Henry Ford Health System, a number of events will take place across Detroit to showcase the industry highlighting career opportunities, the cross-section between health care and mobility, and the transformational technology being developed.

“Detroit has historically been the center of the automotive universe, and now our city is leading the way into the next generation of the industry,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “It makes perfect sense to shape the future of mobility right here in Detroit, and I’m proud to proclaim this week as Mobility Week.”

Many of the region’s assets will be on display, including Detroit’s growing startup ecosystem, technology development of the region, and the work Detroit’s Transportation and Mobility Office is engaging in the city and neighborhoods around transportation solutions.

“This proclamation calls attentions to the diverse players in mobility to celebrate our leadership in next-generation mobility,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for the Chamber. “We have come so far, and it is important to share and celebrate the new technology the industry offers with the public.”

Learn more about some of the Mobility Week Detroit events, including the 2018 MICHauto Summit below or visit www.mobilityweekdetroit.com.

MICHauto Summit: Explore Your Automobility Future

Oct. 10
The Beacon at One Woodward

MICHauto’s signature event engages automotive industry leaders with students and interns from regional universities, colleges and trade schools for a full day of programming. The Summit offers a unique opportunity to discuss the evolution of the automotive industry and its career pathways. Automotive and mobility industry professionals will share the career pathways with more than 160 students and interns. Conversations and topics will examine the future of the automotive, mobility and technology fields and how the industry is rapidly changing from decades past.

 

Henry Ford Health System all for you logo

The Eye, The Brain & The Auto
Oct. 7-9
MotorCity Casino

 

The 8th World Research Congress on Vision and Driving is focusing on the autonomous vehicle technology and its impact on health care. The three-day world congress will look at the way mobility technology is disrupting the way IT, big-data management and health care does business. Sessions will touch on how vision and cognition will play a key role in connected and autonomous vehicles, their development and how users interact with them. It also will highlight how the medical field can contribute and benefit from the development of driverless cars, trusts and other forms of transportation.

 

TechStars Demo Day 
Oct. 9
Detroit Film Theater

 

 

The 2018 Class of startups enrolled in the Techstars Mobility Accelerator will be center stage as they graduate from this unique mentoring program. More than a thousand investors, community members, students and representatives from the automotive and transportation industries will be in the audience to hear about new technology, autonomous advances and mobility answers from the Techstars participants. The event is the largest single-day startup and innovation event nationwide, organizers say, giving these up-and-coming entrepreneurs a venue to share their ideas and network with industry executives in real and substantial ways. Techstars with its worldwide network that focusing on helping entrepreneurs succeed offers its mobility program solely in Detroit. Its current class of 11 companies is the most diverse to date, has businesses that span a wide array of mobility solutions and comes from countries across the globe, including Hong Kong and London.

 

Detroit Moves
Oct. 10-11
Spirit Plaza

 

This free and family-friendly two-day outdoor festival brings people together with mobility companies, industry leaders and the latest in technology at Detroit’s Spirit Plaza. Now in its second year, Detroit Moves is a showcase for connected and autonomous vehicles as well as the people who make these high-tech machines, organizers say. The festival also includes art exhibits, musical performances, food and family-orientated activities such as a mobility-themed scavenger hunt. Additional activities include an educational village featuring STEM careers and area universities such as Wayne State and the Center for Creative Studies, a startup village with mobility-related startup companies and a social hour featuring food, beverage and entertainment from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 11. Some exhibitors included May Mobility, which has an autonomous transport that takes Bedrock Detroit employees around the downtown core, as well as MoGo, Maven, Chariot, Airspace and America’s Automotive Trust.

Bernstein to join panel on fifth anniversary of Detroit’s bankruptcy

Plunkett Cooney bankruptcy attorney Douglas C. Bernstein was one of the many professionals involved in the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy, which remains the largest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy ever filed. To commemorate the fifth anniversary of this historic event, Bernstein will participate in a panel discussion on July 18.

Hosted by DBusiness magazine from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Gem Theatre in Detroit, the panel discussion is part of the DBusiness Breakfast Series. The event, titled: “Detroit’s Bankruptcy: Five Years Later – Past, Present and Future,” will feature Bernstein along with former Detroit City Council Member Sheila Cockrel, Patrick O’Keefe of O’Keefe financial advisors and John Naglick, Chief Deputy CFO / Finance Director for the city of Detroit.

“It’s remarkable how Detroit made it through the bankruptcy process. It had a perfect cast of leaders to see the process through. It was historic and the solutions were very creative,” said Bernstein who serves as the Business Law Department Leader of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms. “Here we are five years later, and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. But hopefully the city will continue to have the same financial discipline in the future.”

During the city’s bankruptcy proceedings, Bernstein represented foundations that donated to the so-called “Grand Bargain” to ease pension cuts and spin off the Detroit Institute of Arts. He also served, and continues to serve, as a resource to local, regional and national media on Detroit’s emergency financial status and issues generally related to Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

Tickets for the July 18 panel discussion cost $65 and are available at the DBusiness website. Groups of 10 cost $50 per person. Prior to the start of the discussion, there will be networking reception and strolling breakfast available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

A member of Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office, Bernstein concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, loan restructuring, commercial loan documentation, bankruptcy, banking-related litigation and appeals. Prior to joining Plunkett Cooney, Bernstein worked as an in-house attorney at Michigan National Corporation for over 20 years.

Bernstein earned his undergraduate degree in 1978 from Wayne State University and his law degree in 1982 from the Detroit College of Law. Earlier this year, he became the only Michigan attorney inducted into the 2018 class of Fellows of the American College of Bankruptcy, a prestigious national organization focused on fostering excellence in bankruptcy and insolvency practice.


Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney employs approximately 300 employees, including over 150 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, as well as in Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm, which provides a range of transactional and litigation services, has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial law firms in the United States.

For more information about Douglas Bernstein’s participation in the DBusiness magazine panel discussion on July 18, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

 

Mayor Mike Duggan: Detroit Must Grow and Move Beyond Racially Divided History

Returning to the Mackinac Policy Conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan delivered a powerful keynote about the often-forgotten truths of Detroit’s racially charged history along with ideas of how to sustain America’s great manufacturing city by learning from its past.

“We were at a crossroads in the ’50s and ’60s,” Duggan said. “Now we are at another (crossroad), during this important time in the city’s history – we must create a Detroit for all.”

Key Takeaways

  • Detroit must be one city, for all of us.
  • Detroit is not a blank canvas; we must respect those who have lived in the city and contributed to the fabric of Detroit.
  • The government owes it to the people to prevent displacement of disadvantaged residents due to private investment.
  • Development will combat economic segregation; there will be a place for people of all incomes in all areas of Detroit.
  • Blight removal is a top priority that must continue, while preserving as many salvageable structures as possible.
  • Detroit must work to build neighborhoods of density, where daily needs of citizens can be met within walking distance.

Following Duggan’s keynote address, Paul W. Smith, host of WJR NewsTalk 760 AM, joined him on stage for a one-on-one conversation. The session was sponsored by DTE Energy and aligned with the Conference pillar of increasing economic opportunity.