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Collaboration Between Policymakers, Auto Industry Key to Maintain Michigan’s Connected Vehicle Leadership

CollabAs the race for the connected and autonomous vehicle accelerates, continued collaboration between automakers and state and federal government policy leaders, along with public and private partnerships, is key to growing Michigan’s R&D leadership.

“The (automotive) industry and technology are blowing by public policy, legislation and insurance law. What we need now … is to include insurance leaders and public policy makers in the conversations,” said Thomas Manganello, Partner at Warner, Norcross & Judd during the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation’s quarterly Investor Briefing titled “Mobility in Michigan.”

Manganello said currently nine states across the country have some form of connected vehicle legislation. This is critically important at a time when local, state and federal lawmakers are considering increased funding necessary to build out the infrastructure to accommodate connected vehicles R&D.

“We’re going to have 50 sets of rules from an insurance and legislative perspective and that can be a real hindrance to the true benefits of this technology coming to fruition,” he added.

The topic was part of a broader conversation on what the future of mobility looks like for Michigan and next-generation mobility as a driver for economic growth. Panelists also included: Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK; Vicky Rad, deputy director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development; Martin Richter, vice president of vehicle systems for IAV Automotive Engineering Inc.; and Tim Yerdon, global director of innovation and design for Visteon.

Cultivating a talented workforce and moving away from a hierarchical mindset among OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers are some of the other major challenges Michigan must overcome, according to Yerdon.

“In the consumer electronics world, it’s an ecosystem; individual companies are part of a web and everyone is somewhat created equal because they are focused on doing the greater good for mobility or connectivity and bringing it to these different channels. There is no hierarchy,” Yerdon said, referencing his experience at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“What I see in Detroit is very hierarchal and that has to change. If we’re going to be successful as an industry in Southeast Michigan, we have to continue to drive that culture of collaboration,” he said. “There’s those who talk about collaboration and those that do collaboration and Michigan has to be the latter.”

Krutko, who has worked both in Michigan and in Silicon Valley, agreed, stating that Michigan can learn valuable lessons from Silicon Valley companies as the state competes for jobs and investment.

“There is cut throat competition in Silicon Valley, however they also recognize in certain circumstances that the right approach is to collaborate,” he said.

Krutko is hoping to build that collaborative mindset in Michigan with the launch of a connected vehicle research center at the former Willow Run Powertrain Plant, a project that he envisions as a hub of research and development for OEMs and suppliers.

“It has to be an open source environment,” he said. “We are being careful to make sure Willow Run won’t be dominated by a single company. We want anyone and everyone to come.”

View photos from the Investor Briefing.

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.