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Bill Ford: Michigan must become the Silicon Valley of the mobility revolution; emphasis on green and smart technologies

In an address at the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference, Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford said that “Michigan must become the Silicon Valley of the mobility revolution” and outlined key public policy areas to help improve the state’s competitiveness and ensure that the state realizes the full benefit of that impending revolution.

Ford told the delegates that the trends emerging in manufacturing, green technology and mobility demonstrate a great opportunity for Michigan to create a dynamic, diverse and growing economy that affirms the state as a global innovation center. He also described urban mobility specifically as the greatest opportunity for Michigan. Ford believes that tackling this challenge will pave a future for Michigan akin to the birth of a new Silicon Valley.

Urban mobility is of particular concern. In the decades to come, 75% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, and 50 of those cities will have more than 10 million people. These so-called megacities will present a unique challenge to personal mobility, threatening the economy, the environment, and even the health of their residents.

—Bill Ford

Ford noted that while great strides have been made with green technology, the world faces the pressures of a growing global population and the new challenge of global gridlock—the potential that the world will face a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources. Ford earlier this year had outlined the company’s vision to address this global challenge in the company’s Blueprint for Mobility. (Earlier post.)

To address this issue, we will once again need new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world. We will need to view the automobile as one element of a transportation ecosystem. Pedestrian walkways, bicycles, buses, planes, trains, automobiles, everything is going to have to be fully integrated using real-time data to save time and conserve resources.

—Bill Ford

Integrating the automobile with this new transportation ecosystem will require an incredible variety of high-tech and policy jobs, which should be based in Michigan, he said.

Ford highlighted the benefits Michigan has realized by being at the center of developments in green technology, including electric vehicles and battery innovation.

At Ford, we have invested nearly a billion dollars to build electric vehicles and the battery packs that power them right here in Michigan. And this is becoming a core competency for us in the 21st century.

—Bill Ford

In terms of policy, Ford outlined key public policy areas that will help improve Michigan’s competitiveness and ensure that the state realizes the full benefit of the impending mobility revolution. He called on policymakers to ensure policy was not holding back innovation and prosperity in Michigan. Ford argued for an updating of the state tax system by eliminating personal property taxes as well as investment in updating the electric grid.

He noted that there are encouraging signs of progress being made, citing a study released last fall by the TechAmerica Foundation that indicated Michigan added more high-tech jobs than any other state between 2009 and 2010.

Ford also noted that Michigan needs a world-class infrastructure and that its location on the US/Canada border provides Michigan with a unique advantage. He affirmed his support for the construction of a new crossing to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, ensuring the timely flow of goods to support Michigan businesses.

New innovation initiatives. Ford also announced two new initiatives to encourage innovation in Michigan.

  • The Motor City Innovation Exchange is a collaboration between Ford, TechShop Detroit, Wayne State University’s TechTown and AutoHarvest to help entrepreneurs commercialize their creations. The program provides a showroom for innovators to show off their creations to peers and potential customers.

  • The Jump Start Program, which offers startup suites, including space located near TechShop, will provide flexible, discounted work space and support for TechShop members who are ready to grow their businesses.

All of these efforts are to encourage innovation, not just in our company, but throughout our state. New ideas are a priceless resource, and the ultimate driver of economic growth.

—Bill Ford



Isn't Silicon Valley the Silicon Valley of the mobility revolution? ie. Tesla Motors?


No one likes to mention it but, unionization has and will continue to impede Michigans progress. I know unions have made concessions however they need to become a right to work state and development would sky rocket. Even CEO,s are afraid to bringi it up.


Jimr: If the UAW dissolved, the auto industry in Michigan would go through another major collapse - not death, but severe collapse as automakers would be freed from the bondage of their agreements with the unions & go through a radical reorganization to become more efficient. The unions are the only thing providing a buffer between their status quo and an armageddon that would transform life as they've known it for decades. Progress might occur longer term, further down the road, but there would be a catastrophic (for the unions) short-term (maybe ~5 +/- years) contraction & correction as the industry in the rust belt reorganized.


A major road block is poor workmanship and poor quality products. A123 is a perfect example. Korean and Japanese style quality controls are a must in Michigan (car/battery industries) if this dream is going to be realized.


Why isn't anyone blaming the CEOs? They knew the public wanted fuel efficient cars but their focus was on SUVs. That's why Michigan lost their market share to Japan. Remember the "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles?" It produced a new generation of hybrids... and an inspiration for Honda's Insight & Toyota's Prius.
Remember the EV1 which GM wouldn't sell even when the leasees went to court? Even Rick Wagoner said that was a mistake.


ejj: I assume that was sarcasm.
Very good. I did not realize until now that there are many posts with so little logic to them that they are almost indistinguishable from actual sarcasm.

Ai_vin: Why isn't anyone blaming the CEOs?

#1. You don’t need to blame the CEOs; unlike union members they can be fired by the company owners if they think the company would do better without them. (And who should care that YOU don’t like the CEOs)

#2. The obvious common factor of Michigan auto companies is unionization - not one CEO for all.

#3. Large vehicles are still over 46% of the market.
Michigan lost their market share to Japan mostly because there was a $2k to $3k added cost for union wages, the jobs banks and legacy costs. They were losing lots of money before, and were unable to withstand the market down turn and tight credit (Except FORD survived. And did so on their own).

Remember the "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles"?

It produced almost nothing. Honda's new Insight & Toyota's Prius are part of the new generation of hybrids that accounts for maybe 2% of the US market... almost nothing even NOW, 9 years later.

Rand very generously says “While PNGV’s ultimate technical accomplishments were limited, this study finds that this government-industry partnership did improve the relationship between the government and this industry.”

Remember the EV1? No automaker in the world, NONE, made/sold such a vehicle; it was a dead end until maybe today (were they all under the control of GM?).

Even Rick Wagoner says it was a public relations mistake.

Today (10 years later, with 10 years of advances in batteries) it is reborn as the Leaf with a miniscule 0.04% of US sales and the new Volt with 0.4% of the market. 10 years later and sales MAY shoot up SOON.

Ref: Volt top-selling plug-in vehicle in US in May, followed by Prius PHV; 1 June 2012 greencarcongress


TT is (for some reasons) continuously fighting the arrival of more efficient electrified vehicles. Toyota has already sold 4,000,000+ HEVs and their Prius is the third best seller for Q1/2012:

1. Corolla = 300K
2. Focus = 274K
3. Prius = 250K

By 2016/2017, close to 50% of Toyota's sales will be with electrified vehicles. Others will do the same about 5 years latter.

The current (3) best sellers did not get USA/Canada financial support and their sales are doing much better.

Chrysler already paid back 100% of the government loans and their sales are picking up.

GM still owes $$B to USA/Canada/Ontario/Michigan etc but is moving out of USA/Canada at an accelerated pace. GM North America should have gone Chapter 7. It would have been better for the local car industry and would have used less public $$$$.

By the way, Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chrysler are all currently making SSSS with the local workforce. GM is the only mismanaged local culprit.


TT is has no power over, nor any way, nor reason to fight the arrival, import or acceptance of more efficient electrified vehicles.

TT IS continuously fighting idiotic nonsense.

I am NOT responsible for the fact that " ... close to 50% of Toyota's sales" are from electrified vehicles" but "Others will do the same about 5 years latter."

I believe EVs will become the "best value", but I am against thoughtless gov support for any EV where the politician assumes it is "worth it" to him to spend
my money to maybe speed up adoption of EVs.

Now that Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chrysler are all currently making $$$, are the CEOs getting any credit?

By the way, they are all currently making $$$ after downsizing and with much more favorable union rules.

GM is the only one that was taken over by the gov, had its CEO canned, is still benfiting from billions of pre-bailout tax credits and the possibly mismanaged local culprit.


CEOs can get fired if they don't do their jobs right? Well yes, but have you ever heard the term "Golden Parachute?"
And it would have been more had the Treasury Department not barred GM from paying Wagoner severance as well.


Start with tech schools, robotic,math and machinist programs, and tech colleges without that there will be no silicon valley of mobility. If money is not invested there nothing will follow.


What do Golden Parachutes have to do with this? You don't pay for them.

I think they might be obscene, or not, but the company makes those part of the contract when hiring.

Such "extra compensation" costs might amount to $500/vehicle but are considered worth it by the companies - Ford with Mulally, was able to avoid a Gov takeover.

Either way, WE do not pay for the Golden Parachutes.
If you think US cars cost more because of them, buy a Toyota.

But better do it NOW, Harvey is going to show me how to "stop their arrivals".


TT, you think that every Ford buyer should be charged $500 extra because Ford's CEO was smart enough to not kill his own company? And he should be insanely wealthy when he was less smart than the CEOs of Toyota, VW and Hyundai, just to name three CEOs who did better than Ford over the past five years?

And yet you think every auto worker should be poor, without enough money to send their kid to college? What do you have against honest working people? Why shouldn't a person that works hard and follows the rules have the protection of a union contract?


TT..we already drive two excellent made in Japan Toyotas and will replace them by two (made in Japan) Toyota HEVs/PHEVs in the near future. Will do our best not to buy locally built cars (as we did for the last 24 years) unless the quality improves.

I don't fully know why the locally built cars have very poor quality. Is it because of local manufacturers policy to maximize profit at all cost or to force us to change car every 4 years or so. Our last USA made huge V-8 boat on wheels lasted a mere 3 years before the engine, A/C and transmission failed versus 14+ years for our last 4 Toyotas.

Secondly, our Big-3 boats of wheel used to rust after a mere 4 years. Our (made in Japan) Toyotas do not have a spot of rust after 14 years.

Do the local work force add rust ingredients to the locally made units?
One may doubt it.


How quaint this discussion of American vs. Japanese auto product, and U.S. govt spending on American auto industry.
Won't everything be built in China in 2 decades?


danm may be right..as far as cars and many other manufactured products are concerned. If the current trend continues, by 2030 or so, China may be making 50,000,000 + electrified vehicles a year and USA may be going through a major debt bubble with car sales limited 3,000,000 luxury imported vehicles a year for the 1% with most of the money. Many of the imported luxury vehicles may be from China. A few of the other 99% with busted credits may be able to borrow a few dollars to buy imported e-bikes from China or India. God save America!


I too am looking forward to flammable BYD auto quality from China. And TT should know (by now) he's wrong... about everything.


You guys need to talk to others outside your coven.

Dollared says; “TT, you think that every Ford buyer should be charged $500 extra because Ford's CEO was smart enough to not kill his own company?”

No, I think Ford should include ALL parts, labor, and admin costs in the price, as ALL automakers do.

“And he [CEO] should be insanely wealthy when he was less smart than the CEOs of Toyota, VW and Hyundai, just to name three CEOs who did better than Ford over the past five years?”

All 3 automakers are in Japan (where “worker” means one who works) and also have US factories in the union free South.

$1,500 per Ford on health care for active and retired union workers in 2007 vs $215 for Toyota.

Contract issues like work rules, Jobs Bank, line relief and holiday pay; $630 per vehicle vs under $100 for Toyota.

A 3,000 worker Ford plant with no orders, had to close for a week and give the idled workers 95 % take-home pay plus all benefits ($7.7 million or $1,545 per vehicle it didn't make); or continue making cars for rental companies discounted by $3,000 to $5,000 per vehicle.
Mulally’s a bargain.


And yet you think every auto “worker” should be able to stop work, make ALL other “workers” join him and then prohibit Ford from hiring workers in their place?

But these cars, built by “honest working people” “have very poor quality”; just ask HareyD.

Why should a person that may not even work have the protection of a union contract?

HarveyD says; “I don't fully know why the locally built cars have very poor quality. Is it because of local manufacturers policy to maximize profit at all cost or to force [sic] us to change car every 4 years or so.”

Sure HarveyD; why don’t you open a laundry service, charge double and wash in waste water – you’ll get rich – LOL!

No, no wait! Just kidding, I know you think this will work but, trust me, it won’t.
Well wait, maybe, if you hire union workers . . . No, , nah.

Aha, I got it; just prohibit people from hiring another laundry.
Do you happen to live in a right to wash state?

Your “last USA made huge V-8 boat on wheels . . . .”
I guess there REALLY ARE some brainwashed car buyers out there.

Why did you buy a huge V-8 boat on wheels anyway? What were you “thinking"?– you really DO need the gov to “force” you to buy better cars.

“Won't everything be built in China in 2 decades?” A good point danm; maybe even sooner.

But, you’ve set Harvey off yet again.
Those voices are now telling him that “by 2030 or so, China may be making 50,000,000 + electrified vehicles a year”.

Yes Harvey, and maybe not, sigh.


Help me out here Real$$, I've been too long out of 1st grade.

Am I supposed to respond to your post with;
"I know you are, but what am I"?


TT....you may be partly right when you claim that unchecked union demands in USA/Canada have pushed many local manufacturing facilities out of the competition and/or forced them to move to China or Mexico. Others, like APPLE, are smarter and moved ALL production to Asia to increase quality and triple their profit margin. Thousands others are doing the same thing thereby creating 25,000,000 + unemployed in USA/Canada.

It may be somewhat OK to blame unions but managers with their multi-million dollar salary should share part of the blame. The decision to build ridiculous low quality boats on wheels gas guzzlers was taken by management, not by Unions. That (convinced/forced) many of us to buy better built common sense size cars from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan etc It was been our case since early 1980s.

If the current trend continues, the majority of Americans/Canadians will have to go back to farming, shale gas, tar sands, mining, roads and bridges making, video games (playing/watching) eating low quality hotdog etc and work 50% of the time, up to 75+ years old, to reduce the cost of old age pensions.

In other words, we (97% to 99%) may go right back to the future or is it the past?


Here is a good one. Air Canada's deficit/lost doubled (again) in the last 12 months but the CEO will get $9.5 millions instead of $4.9 millions. First grade maths would have reduced his salary to $2.85 millions (or even less) instead.

No wonder that Air Canada shares have dropped to $0.87.


ToppaTom - you are the perfect Fox Conservative: you hate working people, your "facts" are provably wrong, even to you as you repeat them, and you are unashamed of your ignorance.

First, do you really think VW and Hyundai are Japanese?

Second, do you think it's the union's fault that health care costs in the US are so high? Japanese health costs are so low because THEY HAVE SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!!!
(so, are you advocating single payer health care for the US? I'm glad you are joining us...)

Third, those work and labor rules are far more restrictive and expensive in Germany, but they make better cars, profitably.

Fourth, why do executives share none of the blame for the losses in the US auto industry? Do you really think they are that much smarter than the executives of the Japanese, Korean, and German auto execs who make less than 10% of the US execs?

Do you think about the things you say? Can you guarantee that your children and grandchidren won't end up in a nonunion factory? Are you that rich? Do you know any history?


USA health care cost are close to the highest (in real $$ and/or in % of GNP) among all industrial nations but the average health of all Americans are among the lowest. Junk food, sweet soft drinks, cheap hot dogs over doses and rampant obesity do not help.

Japan has one of the lowest heath care cost (less the 50% of USA's) but one of the highest average good health and life expectancy.

The US system must suffer from very low overall efficiency and Japan's must be at least 2x to 3x more efficient regardless of what F.. News says.


As to the anti-union talk: Here's the real reason the Wrong Wing wants the unions gone;


TT...for your info, here are the total cost for a common knee replacement in various countries:

1. USA.....from $45K to $60K
2. Singapore...from $18K to $22K
3. Mexico.....from $13K to $15K
4. Thailand....from $12K to $14K
5. Costa Rica... from $11K to $13K
6. Taiwan ..... from $19K to $12K
7. India .......from $7K to $9K

For 1/3 the cost you can fly to Singapore and have the same operation in a deluxe very clean hospital by highly qualified surgeons.

For 1/7 of the cost you could fly to India and have the same operation in a five stars hospital by qualified surgeons.


My father has had both his hips replaced. The cost for that in the USA would have been $100K.

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