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Whitmer signs orders to advance mobility in the state

February 25, 2020

The Detroit News

By Kalea Hall

Detroit — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed executive orders Tuesday to create a council on future mobility and electrification, establish the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and to appoint a chief mobility officer.

Whitmer signed the executive orders atop an Argo AI autonomous vehicle at the MICHauto Summit centered around the state “Leading the Global Mobility Revolution.” The orders follow a year of next-generation investment in the city by Detroit’s three automakers, and are intended to accelerate the auto industry’s momentum in the state.

“Initiatives like these are key to keeping Michigan at the forefront of the future of mobility,” said Bryan Salesky, co-founder and CEO of Argo AI, Ford Motor Co.’s autonomous-vehicle partner. said in a statement. Powered by Ford vehicles, Argo is testing its autonomous vehicles in six cities, including Detroit.

“The deep pools of talent and manufacturing capacity in Michigan are two of the biggest reasons why we’re so proud to operate in this state and have automaker partnership like the one we have with Ford Motor Company.”

The Michigan Office of Future Mobility is expected to help make sure Michigan is “the go-to state to build, test and deploy the cars of the future,” Whitmer said. “The office will also help us continue to build public and private partnerships that drive mobility solutions to ensure we compete globally.”

The state expects to announce who the mobility officer is within the next few weeks, said Jeff Donofrio, state director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Whitmer is directing the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to create the office that will be in charge of leading the coordination of all mobility-related initiatives across economic development, workforce and infrastructure needs in the state.

The Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification, which abolishes the current Council on Future Mobility, will be housed at the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The council will be responsible for providing recommendations for changes in state policy.

“Gov. Whitmer and MICHauto are aligned on a vision to shape Michigan’s mobility future,” said Glenn Stevens, executive Director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the chamber. “MICHauto is honored to be a key partner to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration in executing the executive actions taken today.”

Last year, Michigan saw investments from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. — all focused, in some appreciable measure, on fielding electrified versions of top-selling pickups and SUVs.

FCA has earmarked $2.5 billion to retool two plants in Detroit to build next-generation Jeep SUVs and, eventually, electric vehicles. Ford is investing $740 million to renovate a historic site in Corktown and develop future technologies there. GM plans to spend $3 billion at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to build electric trucks and autonomous shuttles.

“These are exciting investments that are happening here in Michigan, happening because of the incredible assets that we have,” Whitmer said at the summit.

Representatives from all of Detroit three automakers applauded the executive orders.

“Michigan will continue to play a key role in our commitment to advance the future of mobility as evidenced in our recent announcements to create the first all-electric GM assembly plant and manufacture a variety of electric vehicles, including the self-driving Origin, in our backyard,” Brian O’Connell, GM’s regional director of state government relations, said in a statement. “Leveraging our capabilities and research and development leadership, we look forward to working with the state to create an all-electric future.”

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