The Automotive Industry: The Road To Everywhere

While we are still deep in the drive toward technical and autonomous, what’s old is new and what’s mine is yours when it comes to next year’s auto trends.

Michigan: Driving The Future Of The Automotive Industry

For over 100 years, Michigan has sat in the driver’s seat of the automotive industry’s growth, progress and innovation. As the birthplace of the assembly line, Michigan put the world on wheels; now, the state continues its role as a global leader, steering the automotive industry into a future that promotes sustainability and electrification through educational programs, partnerships and the world’s best concentration of skilled workers.

Amid the industry’s shift from the combustible engine to electric and fuel cell propelled vehicles, Michigan is poised to lead the high-tech automotive transition yet again. Advances in electric power generation and storage, autonomous vehicles, vehicle sensing and vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications are shaping the economics of mobility, with Michigan at the helm.

automotive industry
Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s (EGLE) Charge Up Michigan program offers grants to fund electric vehicle fast-charging stations across the region, with plans in place to create 75 stations with nearly 300 chargers by 2030. (Photo courtesy of MEDC)

With the highest concentration of engineering talent in the nation, a wealth of university-led advanced battery research and proximity to 26 OEMs, Michigan is an ideal location for emerging battery and EV manufacturing. In fact, the state is home to about one-third of U.S. battery production, ranking 6th nationally for employment related to electric vehicle battery manufacturing.

That innovative spirit and talent pool have Michigan poised to remain a strong prospect for automotive companies. The state consistently ranks as the No. 1 site for automotive and mobility research and development (R&D), and Michigan’s automakers continue to help build an economy that is equitable and environmentally conscious.

Since 2019, more than 15,000 automotive manufacturing jobs have been created in Michigan—the majority of which are supporting increased electric vehicle manufacturing in the state. In less than two years, more than $9 billion in EV-related investments have been made in Michigan.

General Motors invested $2.2 billion in its first fully dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant—GM Factory Zero—in Hamtramck, Mich., with production of its first all-electric truck scheduled to begin in late 2021. The assembly plant will create over 2,000 manufacturing jobs. In October 2021, GM also announced plans for a 300,000-square-foot facility in Warren, Mich., named the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center. The goal of the facility is to grow the automaker’s battery technology and EV batteries with a longer range and lower price point.

Ford Motor Co. has also made significant investments in electric vehicle manufacturing in the state. In September 2021, Ford announced a $250 million investment and the creation of 450 jobs to support production of its all-electric F-150 Lightning model across three southeast Michigan facilities. Ford is also opening its new global battery center of excellence, Ford Ion Park, in Romulus, Mich., to accelerate the company’s R&D of battery and battery cell technology.

Meanwhile, Stellantis is investing $2.18 billion for a Durango mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) and the next-generation Grand Cherokee, building off its 2019 investment that marked the first new assembly plant in Detroit in three decades, and bringing 6,433 jobs to Michigan.

The state’s momentum in the EV space is further accelerated by Magna’s $70.1 million investment toward a new St. Clair facility for production of a structural battery enclosure for electric propulsion vehicles, XL Fleet opening its new Fleet Electrification Technology Center in Wixom, and semiconductor wafer manufacturer SK Siltron creating a new facility in Bay County to support EV growth, creating up to 150 jobs and investing $302 million.

But for the future of mobility to come fully to life, there needs to be locations and infrastructure in place to support pilot testing and deployment. Fortunately, Michigan is home to the largest deployment of vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in the United States. To date, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has activated nearly 600 miles, including an original connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

The vision of the corridor is to create purpose-built lanes to accelerate and enhance the full potential of CAVs. This is further complemented by Michigan creating a first-of-its-kind electrified roadway, allowing EVs to wirelessly charge while driving on Michigan roads.

Michigan institutions and companies are also at the forefront of the development of personal transportation, with several initiatives emerging from the state’s public and private sectors. One of those initiatives is Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s (EGLE) Charge Up Michigan program, which offers grants to fund electric vehicle fast-charging stations across the region. With plans in place to create 75 charging stations with nearly 300 chargers by 2030, EGLE is also leading an effort to map those fast-charging EV station placements state-wide.

The U.S. Department of Energy recognizes Michigan for its role in EV technologies, awarding a grant of $7 million to a Michigan-based startup to develop cybersecurity infrastructure to secure the electric grid and $4.5 million to Michigan Technological University to support projects that enhance connected and automated vehicle technologies that improve safety by eliminating risk due to human error.

To further support mobility and EV growth across state government, academia and private industry, the Office of Future Mobility & Electrification (OFME) was created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and launched in Summer 2020. OFME recommends public policies regarding mobility and electrification, charging infrastructure and related mobility issues such as shared transportation and public transit.

Michigan’s efforts supporting the future of mobility and electrification are already producing results that are driving industry solutions, while advancing mobility technologies that help improve the lives of Michigan residents. This includes a robot delivery program addressing last-mile delivery challenges in Detroit with startup Kiwibot; the creation of the Detroit Smart Parking Lab, a new public/private sector collaboration marking the nation’s first-of-its-kind, real-world test site for parking solutions; and grant funding in support of mobility startups to accelerate EV investments in the state.

As the automotive industry evolves with the desires of the consumer, ideas of the manufacturers and needs of the planet, Michigan will continue to pave the way toward a more creative, electric and sustainable future. To learn more about how Michigan is shaping the future of the automotive industry, visit

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