Global Automotive Forum Offers Insight Into Future of Mobility Industry in China

As part of a strategic effort to learn more about Chinese automotive market trends and strengthen existing industry relationships, the Detroit Regional Chamber traveled to Chongqing, China in June to participate in the 2016 Global Automotive Forum. The three-day trip provided an opportunity to share the current state of the auto industry in Michigan with leading Chinese industry executives, as well as explore developments in electric vehicle manufacturing and the connected and autonomous vehicle landscape in China.

The trip builds on the Chamber’s longstanding relationship with the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and was conducted in partnership with the Michigan Automotive Industry Office and Michigan-China Innovation Center.

While abroad, Justin Robinson, the Chamber’s vice president of Business Attraction, attended several events around the show and participated in a panel discussion on doing business with the Michigan automotive industry attended by representatives from Chinese suppliers. Kevin Kerrigan, senior adviser for automotive initiatives at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), also led a panel discussion on connected and autonomous vehicle development and electric vehicle development for over 600 attendees.

Robinson said a key takeaway from the trip was the stark difference between the two countries on a next-generation mobility strategy and current progress by our respective domestic suppliers in this space.

“While the U.S. has made a pretty full pivot into connected and autonomous technology, China’s priority still seems to be focused on new energy/electric vehicle development,” he said. “We are roughly a couple years further along in the connected mobility discussion with the exception of a very small number of leading Chinese automotive and technology firms.”

That’s where Michigan’s numerous research and development and vehicle testing assets, such as the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, will benefit the state and country in the long-term, Robinson said.

“How can Chinese companies keep up with the technology demands of both new energy and connected and autonomous vehicle markets? Most of the Chinese OEMs and suppliers don’t have the dollars to invest in that type of research and development. It will be interesting to see how that plays out,” Robinson said.

Other key takeaways:

  • Chongqing is China’s largest manufacturing base. The city has an annual auto capacity production of 4 million vehicles with Chang’an and Ford Motor Co. making up a large percentage of this capacity.
  • Chinese brands held over 30 percent share of the Chinese passenger auto market in 2015.
  • Chinese industry execs know that the country must transform its smart mobility strategy as the industry continues to rapidly develop due to disruptive technologies. The challenge is that China’s domestic auto industry lags behind the world’s auto powers in terms of development levels, professional expertise and other related criteria.

In addition to the Automotive Forum, the Chamber and MEDC traveled to Chengdu, China in support of Michigan’s sister state, Sichuan Province. While there, the team met with Sichuan government leaders and a small number of Chinese OEM and Tier 1 suppliers with a focus on electric and autonomous technology.

As a follow up, the Chamber assisted with the hosting of the Executive Vice Governor of Sichuan to the Detroit region at the end of June featuring 80 delegates from government, industry, education and tourism. The visit was anchored by a reception hosted by Gov. Rick Snyder, and a tour of the city hosted by the Chamber featuring delegation representatives and Sichuan Executive Vice Gov. Wang Ning.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.

November 11: Bankruptcy Decision Paves Way for New Era in Detroit; Kevin Kerrigan to Lead State’s Automotive Office

Bankruptcy Decision Paves Way for New Era in Detroit

The Detroit Regional Chamber applauds Judge Steven Rhodes for approving Detroit’s bankruptcy plan last week, paving the way for a new era for the city and region. Exiting bankruptcy so effectively has wiped out decades of poor financial decisions and created a historic opportunity to move the city forward.

The Chamber acknowledges the bold leadership of Gov. Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr for taking the necessary and difficult steps to address Detroit’s financial and structural problems. Most notable was the approval of the Grand Bargain to better protect pensioners and the Detroit Institute of Arts collection.

The Chamber also congratulates Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council for their resilient governance during the first year of bankruptcy. While the city’s bankruptcy balanced the books, it’s not the end goal. Building on the progress already made under Mayor Duggan, and maintaining discipline with city finances and operations over the long-term is critical to building off this historic effort.

Chamber Frames Positive Message for Detroit Post-Bankruptcy

As it did at the start of bankruptcy, the Detroit Regional Chamber continues to share the positive message of Detroit’s resurgence for a national audience following last week’s ruling by Judge Steven Rhodes.

Leading up to and immediately after Rhodes’ decision, Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah interviewed with numerous state and national media outlets, including WXYZ Channel 7, WDIV Channel 4’s Flashpoint, Reuters and the Los Angeles Times — sending a clear message that Detroit is poised to emerge a stronger, more resilient city. The appearances underscore the need for Detroit residents to be “loud and proud” of their city, a goal echoed by Gov. Rick Snyder during the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference and a Conference To-Do List item.

In addition to shaping Detroit’s story for a national audience, the Chamber is co-leading the Detroit Brand Alliance, a coalition of businesses and thought-leaders, to develop a unified messaging brand that creates a positive economic impact on the city. Baruah is co-chairing the Alliance with Tom Lewand, group executive for jobs and economic growth for the city of Detroit.

Kevin Kerrigan to Lead State’s Automotive Office

The Detroit Regional Chamber congratulates Kevin T. Kerrigan on his appointment as senior vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Kerrigan will to lead the state’s automotive office and replace Nigel Francis, who will be returning to the private sector.

Continuing to build Michigan’s automotive assets, including focusing on ensuring the state and region retain the mantle as the epicenter of next generation advanced mobility and the connected vehicle, is a key goal the Chamber’s MICHauto program shares with the Governor. While much has been accomplished under the Governor’s administration, much remains to be done. The Chamber thanks Francis for his leadership and looks forward to working with Kerrigan to continue building upon the state’s comprehensive automotive economic strategy.

Chamber Helps Bring American Flags Back to Hart Plaza

More than 15 American flags now line Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit just in time for Veterans Day thanks in part to the efforts of the Detroit Regional Chamber. The flags were unveiled during a ceremony on Saturday that capped a year-long campaign launched by Revolution Flag Group.

After efforts to raise the required $60,000 to restore and maintain the flags and poles were mired, the company reached out to Chamber employees, who advised the company on setting up a charitable foundation and helped facilitate dialogue with the Rivertown Detroit Association. Through that connection, Revolutionary Flag Group secured underwriter funding for the project through the UAW-Ford National Programs Center, and JJ Curran Crane Company provided a cherry picker and crane to erect the flags.

Local Businesses Encouraged to Hire Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, the Detroit Regional Chamber is renewing its call to members to take an active role in providing employment opportunities to the dedicated men and women who have served in the military.

The Chamber continues to be a steadfast advocate in raising awareness of the importance and the value of hiring Michigan veterans, providing resources for area companies through its numerous partnerships. In 2013, the Chamber partnered with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to host the Governor’s Summit on Veterans Talent, making the case for employers to implement veteran-hiring programs. These efforts were further expanded upon during a veteran talent showcase at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference, giving veterans an influential stage to market their qualifications to top companies across the state.

Visit the Chamber’s resource page for hiring veterans and view this video created by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that promotes the impact veteran talent has on the state’s economy.

SEMCOG Invites Public to Comment on Transportation Improvement Program

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is soliciting public comments for an amendment to its 2014-2017 fiscal year Transportation Improvement Program.

As part of the amendment, 23 projects proposed for funding are either being added or have a major change in scope. New projects include 12 that preserve pavement, four transit improvements, three that will manage freeway lighting, two bridge projects, one guardrail project, and one project designed to improve traffic operations. An additional 16 projects are being deleted, including a delay of the M-153 reconstruction in Canton Township and several Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) projects due to priority shifting.

The amendment requires all proposed projects undergo a public comment period. Written comments can be mailed to SEMCOG Information Center, 1001 Woodward Ave., Suite 1400, Detroit, MI 48226. Comments can also be made in person at the Transportation Coordinating Council meeting on Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m., or the SEMCOG Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. Click here for more information.