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Ubimobility helps French startup set up shop in Michigan

 

 

By: Greg Tasker

May 30, 2018

Earlier this year, NAVYA, a French company specializing in autonomous electric vehicles, began manufacturing driverless shuttle buses at a plant in Saline, a small town outside of Ann Arbor.

The French company secured the 25,000-square-foot facility last summer, with help from Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., but its relationship with the Great Lakes State goes back to 2015.

NAVYA was among the delegation of French startups and entrepreneurs to participate in the 2015 Ubimobility, an annual event that showcases their innovations to prospective American car manufacturers and others. Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automotive and the University of Michigan have been among the American hosts. This year’s mission, which begins in Detroit and wraps up in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, comes to the Motor City on June 3.

NAVYA’s participation in Ubimobility four years ago led to a partnership with the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center, now known as Mcity. Mcity is a U-M-led, public-private R&D center working to advanced connected and automated vehicles. The first NAVYA shuttle was introduced in North America at Mcity, where it is used for research and tours of the Mcity Test Facility. At Mcity, the university used NAVYA’s driverless shuttle buses, capable of carrying up to 15 people, for research and self-guided tours. U-M is expected to use the autonomous buses on North Campus this spring.

“As result of that relationship there became conversation about where to locate a U.S. assembly plant,” said Phil Santer, senior vice president and chief of staff for Ann Arbor SPARK. “They looked at Chicago and other places. We made the pitch for why they should be in Michigan or Ann Arbor.”

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Pierre Bourgin is a 2018 MICHauto Summit Speaker, view the full agenda.

 

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