Michigan: Building the Future of Mobility and Electrification
For more than a century, Michigan has been known globally as the place where automotive technology is developed, built, and refined, and where skilled workers can count on earning a good living. Automotive innovation has helped Michigan’s economy grow and thrive, and today, a new generation of innovators across the state is helping to define the future of transportation around the world.
As the world of automotive mobility and electrification continues to grow and develop, investments in manufacturing, technology and testing are leading to significant growth, expanding opportunities for companies, investors, and workers. And Michigan is again positioning itself to be at the center of that growth.
Michigan’s automotive expertise and robust entrepreneurial ecosystem are at the heart of a statewide culture of innovation that is ensuring the technology solving the world’s mobility related challenges is being developed here in testing sites and real world environments across the state.
Take Derq for example, a startup headquartered in Dubai that chose Detroit, Michigan to test technology to help prevent traffic crashes. The startup installed software and hardware at a key intersection in downtown Detroit to test their system of cameras and radar developed to detect potential red-light runners and other hazards, then community them to road users within two seconds. This real world testing was happening just blocks from the global headquarters of GM – demonstrating another Michigan advantage: a robust automotive ecosystem that offers access to the 23 OEMs that have a presence in the state.
Other examples of the commitment toward public/private partnership in the mobility and EV space is demonstrated through the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge – a joint initiative of the MEDC and the Michigan Department of Transportation, which provided 13 grants to address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans across the state – and the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative – which brought together the city of Grand Rapids, the state, private sector partners including Consumers Energy, and May Mobility to launch a free autonomous vehicle within the city’s existing DASH West bus route to help prove civic infrastructure and operational capabilities of the rapidly growing AV market.
Michigan is leading the way when it comes to infrastructure with more than 600 miles of activate roadway equipped for autonomous and connected vehicle testing.
The Michigan Connected Corridor is a first-of-its-kind connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) corridor building the road of the future with a goal of improving transportation across Southeast Michigan and continuing Michigan’s leadership in smart infrastructure and future mobility. Cavnue, a company founded by Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, was selected to lead the project in partnership with the state of Michigan, including the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The first phase of the project will test technology and explore the viability of a more than 40-mile driverless vehicle corridor between Downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Home to 16 colleges and universities with degree programs in automotive technology and design, infrastructure and other emerging mobility technologies Michigan is preparing the talent needed of the jobs of the future.
Collaborating with its university partners, the Michigan Mobility Institute-whose programs develop talent in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, and other advanced technology areas-will begin offering a Master of Mobility degree this year. And Ford recently announced a $75 million investment in a new robotics and mobility facility at the University of Michigan. The collaboration will give Ford the space, technologies, and talent needed to conduct mobility and robotics research.
That talent extends beyond the university system and into the state’s vast high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. More than 20 start-ups and accelerators are involved in the mobility industry statewide, and Michigan continues to rank first nationally in the ratio of research spending to venture capital investment. Eight groups of angel investors and 22 venture capital firms are active in the mobility arena, backing 141 Michigan companies.
Michigan is home to globally recognized testing sites for connected and autonomous vehicles, including maritime and unmanned aerial vehicle technology ensuring that testing and deployment happening in Michigan is impacting the way goods and people move across air, land and see.
Testing sites like the American Center for Mobility, Mcity at the University of Michigan, the Mobility Research Center at Kettering University in Flint and the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Tech University in Houghton host companies from all over the world for testing and validation of new transportation solutions.
While autonomous vehicles dominated the mobility landscape in recent years, 2020 and 2021 have seen the rise of the electric vehicle. Consider, Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that global EV sales will quintuple between 2018 and 2025 and each of Michigan's Big Three auto manufacturers has identified strategies to lead in that growth.
- GM announced in January that it would phase out gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 and has committed to a $2.2 billion plan to manufacture all-electric vehicles at the Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck plant. The plan includes an all-electric GMC Hummer EV pickup and a completely new self-driving vehicle, the Cruise Origin, and will create more than 2,000 good-paying jobs.
- Earlier this year, Ford launched the Mustang Mach-E – the company’s inaugural battery-electric vehicle – as well as investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the past year in manufacturing plans to support production and assembly of electric vehicles in Michigan.
- And continuing the momentum of FCA’s historic investment in Michigan in 2019, Stellantis announced plans for the company to launch 10 new hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles in the coming year.
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