MICHauto Investors Gather in Lansing for Annual Meetings with Legislators

“Meeting with legislators is crucial to ensuring that policymakers understand the industry’s issues, opportunities, and our collective economic impact,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

On Tuesday, April 16, the Chamber’s MICHauto initiative gathered executives from 25 automotive companies to meet with 25 legislators in Lansing for the 2019 Automobility Day at the Capitol. Automotive experts and executives discussed the industry’s impact with legislators including MICHauto’s 2019 policy priorities. This year’s priorities focus on the further development of talent, technology, and trade as the key drivers of progress.

“The MICHauto policy priorities were created with the automotive industry and represent their thoughts on what we need to focus on to ensure future economic success,” Stevens said.

MICHauto values the opportunity to foster collaboration between industry leaders and the state government, which will ultimately strengthen Michigan’s economy and reinforce its standing as the automotive capital of the world. Many individuals contribute to this shared effort, and each year MICHauto recognizes one of them for their commitment to supporting the automotive and mobility industry in Michigan.

This year, MICHauto named Rep. Rebekah Warren Legislator of the Year for her dedication to driving next-generation vehicle R&D, her sponsorship and creation of the framework to allow the establishment of the American Center for Mobility, and her appointment on the Michigan Council on Future Mobility.

The sixth annual Automobility Day at the Capitol highlighted how a strong partnership with Michigan’s political leadership will continue to promote a promising future for the state’s automotive and mobility industry.


Top Automotive Executives to Meet with Legislators On MICHauto Policy Priorities; Rep. Rebekah Warren Named Legislator of the Year

LANSING, MICH, April 16, 2019 – Today, MICHauto, a statewide initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber, convenes executives from 25 automotive companies for meetings with 25 state legislators in Lansing. For the sixth consecutive year, MICHauto has brought together the automotive industry and legislators to discuss the impact of the industry across the state. For the second year, industry leaders identified policy priorities that are most important to their continued growth.

The 2019 policy priorities focus on the following areas:

  • Industry Talent Pipeline: Development of a strong talent pipeline for the automotive industry and next-generation mobility development.
  • Connected, Automated, Shared and Electric Vehicle R&D and Testing: Ensure that Michigan remains at the forefront for companies and research institutions.
  • International Trade: Encourage productive efforts to promote fair trade through the pursuit of high-standard trade agreements.

View the full policy priorities.

“The MICHauto policy priorities were created with the automotive industry and represent their thoughts on what we need to focus on to ensure future economic success,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Meeting with legislators is crucial to ensuring that policymakers understand the industry’s issues, opportunities, and our collective economic impact.”

Additionally, each year, MICHauto recognizes a distinguished legislator for his or her commitment to the state and the automotive industry. This year’s honoree state Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-MI 55) will be recognized during a luncheon reception between meetings.

Rep. Warren’s commitment to driving next-generation vehicle R&D, her sponsorship and creation of the framework to allow the establishment of the American Center for Mobility, and her appointment on the Michigan Council on Future Mobility all serve as compelling testaments to her leadership in supporting Michigan’s largest industry.

“I am honored to be named Legislator of the Year for MICHauto, and I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that Michigan is positioned to lead the transformation to next-generation mobility,” said Rep. Warren. “The automotive industry is our state’s signature, as well as a key economic driver of our state with tremendous potential for growth. I am proud to partner with industry leaders and state policymakers to protect the future of this critical sector, which will benefit all of our state’s residents.”

Past recipients of the Legislator of the Year award include Senator’s Steve Bieda (D-Warren), Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), and Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City).

About MICHauto

MICHauto, Michigan’s only automotive cluster association, is a statewide economic development initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Dedicated to promoting, retaining and growing the automotive and next-generation mobility industry in Michigan, MICHauto embodies a public-private strategy, championing Michigan as the global epicenter of the automotive industry and providing a platform for collaboration on advocacy, business attraction and retention, and talent attraction. To learn more, visit MICHauto.org.

The Future of Detroit the Mobility City With Glenn Stevens

April 4, 2019

Daily Detroit

Detroit is major center of the development of the automobile. But we’re now transitioning to developing more than just the traditional vehicle — to creating technology and solutions that helps people get around. That’s mobility.

Today’s episode talks about that mobility industry in Metro Detroit. Not just Detroit, the Motor City… but Detroit, the Mobility City.

There are numerous startups and the big players – including Ford and GM – that are serious about it and there’s a lot of money being spent.

After all, that new Ford campus that’s happening in Corktown? That’s about developing this kind of technology right here in Detroit.

That conversation, led by Sven Gustafson – is with Glenn Stevens.  He’s the Executive Director of MICHauto. That’s an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

And even though he’s the head of a group called MICHauto, you might be surprised that his answers to the challenges and opportunities Metro Detroit has is not just to add more cars to the road.

View the full article here

Listen to the conversation:

The numbers don’t lie: Michigan’s still the auto industry leader

March 26, 2019

The Detroit Free Press

Eric D. Lawrence 


Automotive industry insiders with the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto group are gathering Tuesday for their annual meeting at the Detroit Athletic Club, where they will get an update on key industry topics and receive a copy of the 2019 Michigan is Automobility report.

Here are some highlights from that report, which includes data from dozens of sources and provides the jobs and investment factoids above:

  • From 2016-18, three metro Detroit counties had some of the highest growth in the nation in new manufacturing jobs, with Macomb at No. 1, Wayne at No. 20 and Oakland at No. 28.
  • 17 percent of U.S. and 11 percent of North American vehicle production in 2018 occurred in Michigan, and 22 vehicle models were assembled here that year.
  • Michigan is No. 1 for operational U.S. Department of Transportation-funded and connected vehicle deployments with 11 projects.
  • Michigan is the top state for U.S. transportation equipment exports.
  • Automakers and suppliers have invested $29 billion in Michigan since 2009, which is more than three times any other state.

View the full article here

Howes: Michigan’s automakers compete for self-driving lead

March 22, 2019

The Detroit News

Daniel Howes


“Rooted in a century of design engineering and manufacturing expertise, Michigan is leading the automotive industry’s evolution from traditional manufacturer to the research, testing, and deployment of next-generation mobility technology,” says a report to be released Tuesday by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto unit.

“From key public-private partnerships to being nationally competitive in mobility-related patents, Michigan is the place for testing and deployment of connected, automated, and electric vehicles. Within the next 30 years, fully autonomous vehicles will be commonplace on roadways across the United States.”

Michigan is ranked No. 1 in connected vehicle projects funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Business annually funds $12 billion in automotive research and development across the state. Michigan-based auto plants last year assembled 17 percent of all the vehicles built in the United States. More than 500 miles of roadway are ready for testing connected vehicles.

The trends are likely to accelerate, quickly, as automakers and major suppliers amp spending on electrification. Over the next decade, says Jim Tobin, chief marketing officer of Magna International Inc., automakers and suppliers are expected to invest $300 billion on electrification, up from just $90 billion a year ago.

“There’s still a lot of unknowns,” he said in an interview in advance of MICHauto’s annual meeting Tuesday, adding that when the technology will “hit mainstream” in the U.S. market ranks among the biggest uncertainties. “The China market by far will be the biggest consumer of battery-electric vehicles near-term.”

View the full article here

Jeff Makarewicz: Toyota Seizing Opportunity When Megatrends Collide

Jeff Makarewicz speaks at 2018 MICHauto SummitWalking out to David Bowie’s hit 1970s song “Changes,” Jeff Makarewicz, group vice president of vehicle, quality and safety engineering for Toyota Motor North America, said the song’s lyrics are a powerful message for companies in the age of new mobility.

“We are undergoing a profound transformation driven by new services, new competitors and global human challenges,” Makarewicz said. “Companies that embrace this disruption will be the difference between those that live and those that die.”

As part of his Automobility Forum town hall discussion at the MICHauto Summit, Makarewicz showed off Toyota’s e-Palette, an automated, electric, flexible vehicle concept that can be tailored to various needs and lifestyles. The concept, which debuted at CES 2018, is part of Toyota’s plan to develop a suite of connected mobility solutions.

Makarewicz pointed to four megatrends impacting Toyota and the overall industry in Michigan: the Internet of Things, autonomous machine learning, the rise of mobility as a service, and electrification.

As the industry evolves, Makarewicz said, one of the biggest challenges will be overcoming consumer perception around autonomous and electric vehicles. For instance, Makarewicz said the electric vehicle share of new vehicle sales in the United States still hovers near .6 percent, yet more and more consumers indicate an interest in purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle.

“Companies are investing in a lot of technology and partnerships with many unknowns. Where is the money to be made? You can’t let that question stop you. You must be agile, forward-thinking and embrace risk. That is what we’re doing at Toyota,” he said.

Jessica Robinson: What Does Mobility Mean to You?

Jessica Robinson speaks at 2018 MICHauto SummitJessica Robinson, director of City Solutions for Ford Smart Mobility, knows firsthand that the importance of moving people and goods efficiently is critical for the city and region’s long-term success. Kicking off her Automobility Forum town hall discussion at the MICHauto Summit, Robinson asked attendees what mobility means to them.

Sticking with the theme of her talk, “Detroit: Live, Work, Play, Move the World,” Robinson shared her professional journey and how a degree in anthropology led to a fulfilling career in automotive. Prior to joining Ford Motor Company, Robinson served as market launch manager for Zipcar, a Massachusetts-based car-sharing company. After traveling the country, Robinson said she was drawn to Detroit and the innovative spirit its residents embody.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mobility is the most interesting industry to be in, it is part of everything.
  • No matter your age, you don’t have to have your life figured out; it is important to continue to learn.
  • Find a company whose vision and mission align with your goals, it will motivate you to work harder.
  • Be engaged in your community and find a way to give back.

Robinson closed her session by emphasizing that to be successful in the automotive and mobility industry, young talent must continue to bring innovative ideas about local problems to the table, learn from others and create solutions. Robinson’s session was sponsored by Phoenix Contact E-Mobility.

Lon Offenbacher: Technology Is Turning Auto Industry on Its Head

Lon Offenbacher speaks at 2018 MICHauto SummitHarking back to the videotape format war of the late 1970s and early ’80s, Lon Offenbacher, president and CEO of Inteva Products, told MICHauto Summit attendees that technology is moving so fast, finding the right talent to keep businesses ahead of the curve is this generation’s biggest challenge.

“Do you love Michigan?” Offenbacher asked to open his town hall-style talk.

“The world is going to be so dynamic five to 10 years from now, it is going to make our heads spin,” he said referencing the convergence of the automotive and technology industries. “There are thousands of companies competing for the prize and Michigan is the middle man.”

As a global supplier of engineered components and systems for the automotive industry, Inteva Products has “constant openings” when it comes to talent, Offenbacher said.

“Motown might be mobility town in 10 or 20 years, but we need the people,” he said.

The session was sponsored by Toyota.

Key Takeaways:

  • Inteva Products is focused on creating a culture that values people. The company supports 178 charities around the world, a contributing factor to attracting talent who want to feel connected to a purpose.
  • To help fill the talent pipeline, Inteva Products offers a suite of services, from internships to apprenticeships and partnerships with colleges. The company is working toward collaborative programs with high schools to raise awareness on STEM education.
  • Never stop learning. Never stop growing.