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Michigan Pushes to Stay on Top in Auto Industry Upheaval

New technologies and business models are transforming the automotive industry “at a speed that a decade ago, we never could have imagined,” Detroit Regional Chamber President Sandy Baruah said, launching the third annual MICHauto Automotive Leadership Roundtable at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Baruah exhorted the 80 attendees at a breakfast hosted by MICHauto to rally around efforts to boost Michigan’s stature in that space.

“We in Michigan have taken our automotive industry and the next-generation mobility industry, frankly, a little bit for granted,” he said. “We’ve owned this space for over 100 years … but that doesn’t mean that it’s our birthright to own next-generation mobility.”

Gary Silberg, head of KPMG’s national automotive practice, put it this way: “There’s this complete reshaping of the auto industry and there’s great reason for optimism.

“There will be winners and there will be losers and it will happen very fast,” he added. “There are billions and billions of dollars at stake to getting this right. You should be optimistic, but you should also be a little paranoid.”

Silberg encouraged automakers, suppliers, universities and other players to partner with technology firms large and small, in Silicon Valley and around the globe, because changes are “happening way too fast for you to try to do this completely on your own.”

Also at the roundtable breakfast, Rod Alberts, executive director of the North American International Show, shared details of a new AutoMobili-D event that will complement the 2017 show in January, focusing on mobility innovations and bringing 50 to 60 Techstars Mobility startup firms and suppliers to the lower level of Cobo Center.

Following the breakfast, Gov. Rick Snyder announced a new branding campaign, dubbed Planet M, to tout Michigan as the global hub for innovative transportation and mobility research. The tagline will be “Michigan. Where big ideas in mobility are born.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) spoke on the need for Planet M.

“When I’m in Washington, I always remind people that Michigan is not just smokestacks and manufacturing,” he said. “It is a high-tech state and a leader in new automotive technology.”

For more information about MICHauto, contact Executive Director Glenn Stevens at 313.596.0323.