Column: Auto show spotlights collaboration

Glenn Stevens

The global automotive community, now joined by the tech community, has once again come to Detroit for our signature event, the North American International Auto Show. Leaders are here to develop partnerships, to display their innovation, and to be in the midst of the greatest concentration of brainpower and decision making in the automotive world.

Under the bright lights, they will find more than a hundred vehicles on display, including 40 cars, trucks, crossovers and concept vehicles making either their global or North American debut. At AutoMobili-D, where the convergence of auto and tech is on display, they will see autonomous, connected, electrified and shared mobility innovation. But the thing that they and you cannot miss isn’t a car at all. The most impressive part of the auto show is the unified collaboration of an entire region and state — the global leader in next-generation mobility’s infrastructure and talent.

This week celebrates the culmination of Michigan’s industry, where 16 global automakers, more than 1,800 suppliers, innovative technology, a growing mobility startup and venture capital ecosystem, and numerous connected and automated vehicle research projects and initiatives call home. NAIAS showcases the vehicles and technologies from the more than 2,200 facilities conducting automotive research, design, engineering, testing and validation in the state. Nowhere else in the world can you find a denser concentration of automotive leadership.

Almost three years ago, the state’s leading economic development organizations agreed to work together on key areas as we positioned to lead in next generation mobility. Together with public and private partners around the state, that work has paid off in a short time with the best test facilities anywhere, including Mcity and the American Center for Mobility, both in Southeast Michigan. We have developed and rallied around the PlanetM brand to identify Michigan as the place where new ideas in mobility are born. The industry, together with our legislators, has created and put in place the most progressive environment to enable the testing and research of connected and automated vehicles on public roads. Most importantly, there is a collective focus and commitment to develop and attract the talent that is needed to enable and propel Michigan into the digital economy. This includes increasing funding and career pathway resources for our youth to find opportunity from the factory floor to the development of the self-driving car.

The automotive ecosystem has intersected with the tech industry, and growth and innovation is occurring like never before in new material technology, advanced propulsion systems and across the spectrum of the connected car and data analytics. Startup mobility companies are incubating here.

The perception and reality of Detroit and Michigan continues to grow and change each day. Be a part of that change, as the show becomes yours next week. Come downtown to see the cars, as well as AutoMobili-D. Bring your student, your child, your friend to see how we are taking a bold step together into the future. Together we are working to create a future that will offer safer roads, a cleaner planet and opportunity for all to find transportation to work, health care and education.

Glenn Stevens is executive director of MICHauto and vice president of its Automotive and Mobility Initiatives.