Senior Vice President of the MEDC Automotive Office, Senior Adviser Automotive Initiatives
State of Michigan
When you look at the number of advanced automotive projects taking place in Michigan, it’s apparent research and development into mobility technologies is thriving.
It’s also apparent all of this great news needs to be shared and promoted as much as possible. That’s where Planet M comes in.
A campaign promoting Michigan as a hub of mobility innovation, Planet M’s purpose is to drive business investment and job growth. Visitors to its website, planetm.com, can see the latest stories on mobility advancement in the state and get details on the number of public and private investments that are revolutionizing the future of transportation. The message is simple – if you’re going to play in this space, you need to be in Michigan.
After 100 years of being the leader in the automotive industry, Michigan has created an ecosystem and solid infrastructure that serves as the perfect framework for innovative companies and enterprising thinkers. And with so many other regions vying for attention and investment in the world of mobility research and development, Planet M provides a single voice to amplify Michigan’s leadership and celebrate its history as the lead innovator in the auto industry.
Behind the Planet M campaign is an informal coalition that includes the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Department of Transportation, MICHauto, the University Research Corridor, NextEnergy, and Business Leaders for Michigan.
Among the announcements the campaign is currently promoting is Silicon Valley-based Google occupying a 53,000-square-foot facility in Novi to develop technology for driverless vehicles. The move is part of a deal between the tech giant and FCA US to build 100 hybrid Pacifica minivans with automated technology.
In addition to Google, Toyota Motor Corp. is investing $1 billion in an autonomous vehicle research facility in Ann Arbor, and San Francisco-based Uber has announced it’s opening an innovation hub in Michigan to work on self-driving technology with area automakers.
Another story Planet M is keeping at the forefront is the state-of-the-art proving ground for connected and automated technologies that will be built on the 335-acre historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township. The testing facility, known as the American Center for Mobility, will be used by industry, academia and government to test, validate and self-certify advanced technology.
The campaign is also actively informing the public on a number of facts about Michigan, like how three-quarters – or about $8 billion – of the auto industry’s research and development money is spent here and that we are also home to more connected and autonomous projects than any other state in the nation.
Very soon, we will be the state that has done the most in terms of developing policies and a regulatory framework to assist the developers of self-driving technology. A package of bills aimed at addressing a number of issues, including how driverless vehicles can be used on public roadways and eventually sold to the public, is making its way through Lansing and has gotten support from both Republicans and Democrats.
As the North American center for the global auto industry’s talent and resources, we have to keep people informed of what’s going on. With Planet M, we’re making sure the advancements and good news happening here is heard around the world.