Maven’s Julia Steyn: Technology is ‘Enabler’ for Michigan’s Mobility Future

Closing out programming for this year’s Automobili-D exhibit at the North American International Show, Daniel Howes, columnist for The Detroit News, sat down with Julia Steyn, General Motors’ vice president of urban mobility and Maven, to discuss car-sharing and the future of mobility in Michigan.

“(Mobility) technology keeps moving forward, so you can either look at it as a disruptor or enabler,” said Steyn about the forthcoming challenges facing the automotive industry with the increase of autonomous technology and mobility-sharing platforms. “I prefer to see it as an enabler while continuing to innovate.”

Steyn also spoke on GM’s leadership in car-sharing and mobility as a service during panel discussions earlier in the week. Read the Detroiter’s in-depth interview with Steyn about Detroit and GM’s long-term mobility vision here.

Automotive and Startup Leaders: ‘Be Firm and Flexible’ with Partnerships

Listen and truly understand the needs of your corporate partner. Be willing to change and adapt. Accept help, corporate partners must be involved in product development.

These were just a few of the tips provided by the automotive and startup collaboration panel on the Automobili-D stage at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on Wednesday. Panelists included Motus’ Jim Disanto, Spatial’s Lyden Foust, PolySync’s Josh Hartung, Michelin’s Patrick Kirby, and General Motors’ Alisyn Malek. The panel was moderated by Techstars’ Laura Kennedy.

Together the automotive leaders and startups shared their personal experience, tricks of the trade and advice on achieving success.

“Remember that it’s not only about you trying to sell a product. You have to share ideas, back and forth with each other and truly be open to changing,” Disanto said.

“It’s very important to know the language. With an understanding of the corporate partner’s culture and environment, the process will be that much smoother,” Malek said.

The overall theme of the panel was for future startup founders to stay dedicated and committed to their product.

“There is no guaranteed formula, it’s truly a journey. My best advice is to be like bamboo – stay firm, but flexible,” Foust said.

Michigan Automakers Kick Off 2017 Auto Show with Flurry of Product Unveils

The 2017 North American International Auto Show kicked off in grand fashion at Cobo Center in Detroit with a flurry of product announcements and vehicle unveils Monday during the first day of media previews. Press Preview Days give more than 5,000 credentialed journalists from around the world an up-close look at the latest automotive, technology and mobility innovation. Highlights from the day include:

  • Audi unveiled its all-new redesigned SQ5. The lightweight SUV boasts a 3-liter V6 engine with 354 horsepower and 368 pounds of torque. The SQ5 is equipped with a suite of advanced driver assist features, including adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, and Audi Active Lane Assist. Read more about the SQ5.
  • BMW revealed its newest midsize 5-series sedan, which is equipped with adaptive LED headlights, fatigue and focus alerts and 18-inch, double-spoke wheels. The automaker also showed off its BMW X2 concept SUV and a new motorcycle. Read more about BMW.
  • Ford Motor Co. showed off its redesigned 2018 F-150 truck featuring a redesigned front-end grille and wheel options, new diesel engine, Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, adaptive cruise control and driver safety technology. The automaker also laid out its vision for growing in the new mobility era through a mix of investment in smart technology development and autonomous vehicle research. Read more on Ford’s smart mobility vision.
  • General Motors Co. unveiled its 2018 Chevrolet Traverse crossover. The redesign features spacious three-row seating, 4G LTE wireless internet, and a 6-liter V6 engine boasting 305 horsepower and 260 pounds of torque. Read more about the Traverse.
  • Honda unveiled its 2018 Odyssey, which will be available at dealerships nationwide this spring. The next-generation Odyssey includes features such as a uniquely versatile Magic Slide second-row seat, new CabinWatch and CabinTalk technologies, and a new rear entertainment system with streaming video. Read more about Honda’s 2018 Odyssey.
  • Lexus unveiled its fifth-generation LS sedan featuring a “coupe-like” design, twin-turbo V6 engine capable of 415 horsepower and a new advanced safety package. Read more about the luxury sedan.
  • Mercedes-Benz unveiled its sleek E-class coupe, one of its newest additions to a newly designed AMG lineup. The coupe features twin-turbo V6 engines that produce 392 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Options include autonomous vehicle following at up to 130 mph. Read more about the coupe.
  • Nissan unveiled its 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport. The body is edgier and precise by shaving 2.3 inches of wheelbase, 12.1 inches of total length and 5.1 inches of total height over the standard Rogue, making this option most suited for functionality and appeal. Read more about the Nissan Rogue Sport.
  • Toyota unveiled its 2018 Camry. The sleek design features three powertrain options, including an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and a hybrid model. Read more about the Camry.
  • Volkswagen unveiled its new Tiguan and Atlas R-Line SUV, both being launched in the United States this year. “North America is very significant for our brand, and the most important task we face is to regain the trust of our customers,” said Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management. The I.D. Buzz, the first zero-emission van to drive fully autonomously, was also debuted. The I.D. Buzz combines a tremendous amount of travel space with an electric driving range of up to 270 miles. Read more about the I.D. Buzz.

For more updates from the auto show, visit www.naias.com.

Dan Ammann and Julia Steyn Leverage General Motors’ Legacy of Innovation to Lead in a Bold New Technological Era

General Motors Reimagining Personal Mobility

By Daniel Lai

Imagine a world with no cars parked on the sides of streets, minimal traffic congestion, and picking up a friend from the airport is as simple as ordering an autonomous ride from the safety and comfort of your sofa. That reality is not so far off, automakers say.

Catalyzed by the influx of new technology, Michigan’s OEMs are working feverishly on innovative ways to stay ahead of the mobility game, especially as the face of consumers gets younger and preferences shift away from vehicle ownership in favor of convenience.

Recognizing these changing trends, General Motors Co. exploded out of the gate with a flurry of product and partnership announcements this past year. The strategy was led by GM President Dan Ammann, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker who cut his teeth on Wall Street. That experience coupled with a keen forward-thinking prowess has proven to be a golden ticket for the automaker.

Julia Steyn and Dan Ammann introduce GM's new car-sharing service, Maven, which provides customers access to highly personalized, on demand mobility services.

Julia Steyn and Dan Ammann introduce GM’s new car-sharing service, Maven, which provides customers access to highly personalized, on demand mobility services.

In January, GM announced a $500 million investment in San Francisco-based Lyft to put an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles on the roads in the United States. The partnership leverages GM’s deep knowledge of autonomous technology and Lyft’s capabilities in providing a broad range of ride-sharing services. Three months later, GM and Lyft launched a short-term rental program called Express Drive, which provides vehicles to Lyft drivers for a weekly rate. The service rolled out in Chicago, Baltimore, Boston and Washington, D.C.

GM’s increased focus on personal mobility solutions signals a new culture and bold leadership shift to position Michigan’s automotive industry as a formidable leader in autonomous technology research and development.

“We want to make sure that we’re in position that when (customers) think about mobility, they think about us every single step of the way. We are investing very heavily to define the future of personal mobility in the areas of connectivity, car- and ride-sharing, autonomous driving, alternative propulsion, and of course, all of the new technologies that are required to underpin those developments,” Ammann said during keynote remarks at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference.

“That’s really important because as we look at consumer behavior, we see a very clear trend where customers are willing to wait for the right vehicles, for the right level of connectivity before they make their purchase decision, we’re seeing increasing evidence of that every day,” Ammann added.

In addition to the Lyft partnership, GM announced a collaboration with MobileEye to crowd-source advanced mapping data for self-driving cars, introduced the Chevrolet Bolt, the first long-range, consumer-friendly electric vehicle, and unveiled its personal mobility brand, Maven.

Currently in 13 markets throughout the United States, the car-sharing service provides access to highly personalized, on-demand vehicles. Maven customers use its app to search for and reserve a vehicle by location or car type and unlock the vehicle with their smartphone.

“With more than 25 million customers around the world projected to use some form of shared mobility by 2020, Maven is a key element of our strategy to changing ownership models in the automotive industry,” Ammann said.

The Maven team is made up of professionals from Google, Zipcar and Sidecar and led by former Alcoa vice president, Julia Steyn. The Detroiter recently sat down with Steyn to talk about Maven, the future of car-sharing, and GM and Detroit’s next steps in the new mobility era.

How would you describe a Maven user?

It is actually really interesting how Maven customers are very different from the traditional way how we sell cars. First of all, it is very simple because in traditional car sales, it is a one-time transaction and you really market a product. With Maven, we want as much repeat use and as often of a repeat use as possible. We are marketing an overall service and the experience to the customers. Just based on the numbers, Maven customers’ average age is 30 and the average income is above $80,000. We’re talking to the customers that we would not have had in the GM brand family. That’s where Maven is so additive to our traditional brands.

What makes Maven unique in the exploding next-generation mobility scene?

We are, as Maven, building on GM’s competitive strength. That comes first and foremost with the breadth of our portfolio. We have anything from Corvettes and the luxury vehicles and Escalades on one end, to the trucks. We are very fortunate that we can tailor the portfolio to our customers regionally.

Secondly, we obviously have the ability with the connection to the vehicle. We have been doing this with OnStar for a long time to create this very on-demand service. It is not only the app, it is the whole experience … how you interact through the phone and the app, and the same phone opens the vehicle and you kind of bring your whole digital life through what we have put through OnStar in the vehicle as well as the dedicated concierges who can curate anything from safety and finding directions to booking your restaurant or booking your hotel. They are specifically trained to interact with Maven customers.

We are also positioning vehicles where the demand is. Through our two services, Maven Home and Maven City, we track very closely whether these spots are the right ones. We understand where our Maven users are going and how to really tailor the services toward that. I believe that we are quite unique in elevating the whole car-sharing experience to a very different level.

Maven sits at the intersection of “traditional” automotive companies and next-generation mobility and technology firms. In your viewpoint, are traditional OEMs and suppliers ready for this transformation that is upon us?

It is happening as we speak. You kind of have to follow where the customer wants to go with that. I firmly believe that a company like GM has so many assets that are so crucial to the new space. First of all, looking traditionally at our scale, which we are able to do, we can finance the cars. We can obviously build the cars. We understand how to deal with insurance. We actually have been in the forefront of consumer marketing for over a hundred years. It comes in sort of a variety of innovation that has to happen, but the base is there, we are just doing it in a different way.

Technology is the table stakes right now. What is fascinating to me, what is happening in the industry right now in automotive, is a really big convergence of the technology that is just software and app creation with real assets. The consumers need both. They are not just consuming an app, they are consuming a service. They want something that is relevant to their lifestyle. That is why it is so important for us to take the Maven brand to be relevant to that lifestyle. We have customers who have taken Maven (vehicles) almost a hundred times in different geographical areas, so we want to be relevant. Where do they want to go? What do they want to see?

It is almost re-teaching this next generation how to interact with a vehicle in a fun way. The reality is, whether OEMs are ready for it or not, we are ready and we are very aggressively pursuing this strategy.

Major cities across the globe are competing to own next-generation mobility. Assess Detroit’s strengths and weaknesses in this competition.

I’m actually very excited about Detroit. It is clearly a story of revival and renaissance in a very young and modern way. If you look back at where Detroit has been, when you look a hundred years ago, it really was the industrial Silicon Valley. It is coming back. I actually strongly believe that it is important for Maven to ground itself in where we are, and Detroit just has this amazing energy not to give up and be really out there in trying new things. At some level, the city itself doesn’t have much to lose.

I think GM is also a bit like that. I’ve been with the company for close to five years and when I came it was the story of restructuring and survival. Now we are looking at a very different dialogue. I’m very thrilled. Frankly from a talent standpoint, our Maven team comes from all over the world. We speak 20-plus languages and between our team, we have more than 40 startups under our belts, so it is a very entrepreneurial team. Detroit has been an attractive place to come and work. We never lost a single candidate because we were in Detroit. People love the city.

The automotive industry has traditionally had a perception problem. The mobility industry offers technology to solve global issues. What can we do to change the old perceptions with millennials to attract more talent?

I think that Detroit is very much on the way there. I see the revival of some art, the revival of the food culture, and more companies that we have on the cutting edge, whether it is automotive or other industries. Real estate is dramatically changing Detroit and what has been happening; we are very linked with this. I think giving Detroit more credit is good. It needs to continue to be marketed as a destination — as a destination for travel and leisure, as a destination for new companies and new ideas. Nobody should be shy about putting a stake in the ground in that.

How important is it for the startup ecosystem to be in Detroit and around these automotive companies, and what can we do to foster that?

Personally, it has been a very fascinating experience for me to open and start a startup within a 100-year-old company. From the outside it might appear as a very daunting task. In reality, on every level of the corporation we have received tremendous support because I think it permeates not just the senior leadership team but also everybody who sees the industry that we are in the cusp of tremendous changes. People are excited to explore opportunities. In fact, most of the folks who supported our Maven startup did it not as part of their main job, but as something that they really wanted to put their fingerprint on.

I think getting the culture back, you have to move fast. You have to be able to experiment. You have to take ownership of what that looks like in a real commercial way. We at Maven are not about running experiments. We are running a new commercial business, and we are learning tremendous amounts through this and building very new capabilities for the company. I don’t know what can be more exciting. I think it is true for anybody who is going to start something new in Detroit.

What is next for Maven and General Motors?

This year our big push was to really launch a brand and get the exposure and the on the ground operation. We are very much happy with how the year went and how quickly we accomplished that. Next year we are going to be focused on growing our customer base and really deepening the relationships that we have developed throughout the country. A lot of exciting opportunities, a lot of exciting ways to grow.

What do you love most about Detroit and Michigan?

I definitely will not say the weather. I just like the attitude and the grit of the city and the energy and the vibe. I have seen that in New York, but many, many years ago when Brooklyn was hustling and bustling. Now I live downtown in Detroit and even in the past five years I have seen the amazing change in the restaurant scene and a change in who my neighbors have become; it is so cool. I just want to contribute to the growth of the city. I think anything from the art scene to the fashion scene, all of that is so honest and so raw and so sincere that you just have to be amazed in what happens next, so I’m watching.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Michigan Leading the Mobility Revolution

By James Amend 

Automakers are conducting an unprecedented technology harvest, scouring the globe for the latest breakthroughs to prepare their organizations for a revolution in personal mobility.

And make no mistake, industry leaders say, the day when autonomous cars and trucks begin plying the nation’s roadways — or when people choose to borrow, share or rent a vehicle instead of owning it — is just around the corner.

Ford recently announced its intent to have a high-volume, fully autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation by 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service.

Ford Motor Co.’s fully autonomous Fusion Hybrid research vehicle on the streets of Dearborn. Ford has been researching autonomous vehicles for more than a decade and currently tests fully autonomous vehicles in Michigan, Arizona and California.

“In the history of technology, we have been surprised often by the speed of which it matures and autonomous vehicles will be another example of that,” said Ken Washington, vice president of research and advanced engineering at Ford Motor Co. “What I don’t want to do is leave the impression that getting there is going to be easy, because it won’t be.”

To meet this unprecedented change, the industry must break away from a century old business model. Instead of designing and engineering new technologies almost entirely in-house, automakers will have to collaborate more closely with traditional suppliers, forge partnerships outside of automotive and build entirely new units within their companies focused on future modes of transportation.

Ford has already begun real-world testing of autonomous vehicles with exercises in California, Arizona and Michigan. The company expects by the next decade it will be selling cars and trucks that operate without a steering wheel, throttle or brake pedal.

“I am very optimistic that the (Ford) target of 2021 is very achievable and we’re committed to it,” Washington added.

Automakers are conducting an unprecedented technology harvest, scouring the globe for the latest breakthroughs to prepare their organizations for a revolution in personal mobilitytion of alternative fuel.

A group of Ford Motor Co. engineers work on a phone-as-car go app. When a passenger gets into a ride sharing car, he or she taps a mobile device that automatically opens an app interface giving him or her control of the radio and climate. Eventually, any controllable feature, like the passenger seat, could be added.

The real-world testing is part of Ford Smart Mobility, a plan the 113-year-old automaker expects will put it on the leading edge of autonomous vehicle technology, connectivity, mobility, customer experience, and data and analytics. The Ford plan includes strategic investments in technology companies — City Maps, Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, SAIPS and Velodyne — meant to deepen the automaker’s expertise in emerging technologies, such as computer vision, machine learning, artificial intelligence and high-resolution 3-D mapping.

Much of Ford’s work on future mobility falls under the direction of Smart Mobility CEO Rajendra “Raj” Rao. A transformation agent, Rao previously built out the digital prowess of companies such as IGATE Capital, Brunswick Corp. and 3M. Rao underscores the gravity of future mobility work at Ford by calling the opportunity to lead Smart Mobility a “culmination” of his career.

Other automakers are taking similar steps. General Motors has partnered with a pair of San Francisco-based companies, Lyft and Cruise Automation, to speed development of its ride-sharing and autonomous driving initiatives. The company also launched its own personal mobility service, Maven, in January.

FCA US LLC has leapt into autonomous research through a partnership with Google, arguably one of the world’s leading technology companies. The unlikely duo has cloaked their work in secrecy for competitive reasons, but it reportedly consists of outfitting 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans with Google’s autonomous vehicle technology.

“What develops from here, we’ll see,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told journalists in Windsor recently.

Volkswagen, which is remaking its business after a damaging emissions-cheating scandal, hired Johann Jungwirth away from Apple to lead its digitization efforts as the German automaker stretches into autonomous vehicles and the mobility services of ride-hailing and car-sharing.

Jungwirth recently disclosed plans for a standalone brand at VW entirely devoted to urban mobility services.

At Toyota Motor Co., professors and scholars are encouraged to pursue research in green energy technology to explore the next generation of alternative fuel.

At Toyota Motor Co., professors and scholars are encouraged to pursue research in green energy technology to explore the next generation of alternative fuel.

Toyota has put its autonomous vehicle development under the auspices of Gill Pratt, a robotics genius who previously led the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency centered on driverless cars and machine learning. Pratt is CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, an Ann Arbor hub for the Japanese automaker tasked with developing artificial intelligence systems, so its cars can someday learn the intricacies of driving.

But Pratt said even an engineering giant such as Toyota must go outside its organization to achieve unquestionably safe driverless cars.

“Coopetition is actually the goal here,” he said. “Our great hope is for constructive competition and also collaboration between all the car manufacturers, the IT companies, different governments and hardware manufacturers.”

James Amend is a senior editor at WardsAuto in Southfield.

Michigan becomes first state in nation to develop comprehensive regulations for autonomous vehicle research, development, use

In a move that will position the state to become the epicenter for driverless vehicle technology, Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation into law making Michigan the first state in the nation to establish comprehensive regulations for the testing, use and eventual sale of autonomous vehicle technology.

“Michigan is the global center for automotive technology and development, having transformed the way the world moves for more than 100 years,” Snyder said. “By establishing guidelines and standards for self-driving vehicles, we’re continuing that tradition of excellence in a way that protects the public’s safety while at the same time allows the mobility industry to grow without overly burdensome regulations.”

The new law, signed by Snyder at 11 a.m. at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, more clearly defines the circumstances of how self-driving vehicles can be legally used on public roadways. The new law also allows:
• Testing of vehicles without steering wheels, pedals or needed human control;
• Automotive and technology companies to operate self-driving vehicle ride-sharing services; and
• Self-driving vehicles to be sold for public use once the technology has been tested and certified.

In addition, the new law will establish the Michigan Council on Future Mobility, an arm of the Michigan Department of Transportation that will recommend policies to set industry standards. It also will regulate connected vehicle networks and how traffic data, such as vehicle crashes, will be collected and shared.

“This legislation keeps Michigan at the forefront of a renaissance in automotive technology,” said Kirk T. Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. “The law helps government further support the industry while not getting in the way.”

The forward-thinking legislation is the result of public and private collaborative efforts to ensure any new policy would not impact the autonomous vehicle industry’s ability to evolve safely and in an atmosphere that encourages increased research and investment. The partners who helped inform the final legislation include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), U.S., Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp. and Google Inc., as well as ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

Michigan is a national leader in connected and automated vehicle projects, surpassing states like California, Florida and Nevada that have yet to establish more comprehensive laws regarding self-driving vehicle technology and their use on public roads. Among these projects is the state-of-the-art American Center for Mobility; the first phase of which is in development

Located at the 335-acre historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township, the Center will serve as a research, testing and self-certification facility for self-driving and connected vehicle technologies that are being developed by private industry, academia and government. It is the second purpose-built facility in the state, the first being Mcity, a smaller proving ground that mimics real-world situations and is located in Ann Arbor on the University of Michigan’s campus.

“Our leadership in the automotive industry is recognized globally and these new regulations are another example of how Michigan is forward-thinking when it comes to innovation in the mobility sector,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “By creating a more in-depth framework for how self-driving vehicle technology can be researched, tested and used, we’re building a structured plan that takes into account the needs of private industry looking to invest in research and the development of this technology.”

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy.

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit MichiganBusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org. Michigan residents interested in seeking employment with any of Michigan’s growing companies should check mitalent.org, where more than 88,000 jobs are currently available in a variety of industries.

Walsh College Presents Annual Wine Gala for Student Scholarships at the General Motors Heritage Center in Sterling Heights

Walsh College presents its 13th annual Wine Gala, one of its largest fundraisers for student scholarships, on Friday evening, May 1, 2015, at the General Motors Heritage Center, 6400 Center Drive, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Along with the horsepower of GM’s classic vehicles, the 2015 Wine Gala will celebrate this year’s Kentucky Derby. Guests are encouraged to wear their favorite Derby attire and hat. This special event will feature rare wines from private collections, a general wine tasting, delectable cuisine catered by Forte Belanger, and hand-rolled cigars. New this year will be a mint julep bar and a bourbon pie station.

The GM Heritage Center is comprised of approximately 600 cars and trucks. Concept cars and special-interest styling/performance editions are also displayed, along with significant race cars and milestone production vehicles representing GM’s product story of the past century.

“Since its inception in 2003, the Wine Gala has raised more than $700,000 for the Walsh College Scholarship Fund,” said Audrey Olmstead, vice-president and chief development officer. “The great support from our corporate sponsors, alumni, the public, and friends strengthens our ability to continue to award valuable scholarships to our students.”

All tickets are $175. An invitation-only, VIP Sponsors Reception offering advanced access to rare-wine tables begins at 6:30 p.m. General admission starts at 7 p.m.

Rare wines for the evening have been donated from the private collection of Bob Cummings, a Walsh College friend. Cummings has donated rare wines to the event since it began. Local distributors will also pour some of the latest vintages.

Co-chairs for the 2015 Walsh College Wine Gala, both residents of Grosse Pointe, Mich., are Mindy Barry, attorney, and also Scott Rice, chief operating officer, Powerlink Facilities. Rice is a Walsh alumnus.

Among the record-number of corporate sponsors for the 2015 Wine Gala are Auburn Pharmaceutical, CareTech Solutions, Clayton & McKervey, Comerica Bank, Conway MacKenzie, Deloitte, Doner, Doeren Mayhew, DTE Energy Foundation, Emagine Entertainment, Ernst & Young, Federal Mogul, Fifth Third Bank, Lear Corporation, Plastipak Packaging, Powerlink Facilities Management, PVS Chemicals, and Wealth Management Services.

For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit www.walshcollege.edu/WineGala or contact Andrea Richards, assistant director, Annual Giving and Stewardship, at 248-823-1204.