Like the city that helped give it life, Detroit’s auto industry is often seen as a Rust Belt relic, a perception underscored by moves by manufacturers like Ford, which is rapidly expanding its new tech center in Silicon Valley.
But just as the Motor City itself begins to revive after decades of disinvestment and so-called “white flight,” so is the local auto industry gaining new momentum. But it’s not just the traditional Detroit Big Three bouncing back after the Great Recession. The Southeast Michigan region is seeing a flood of new investment from traditional foreign rivals such as Toyota and Nissan, as well as from new, high-tech players including Uber and Google.
“What we’re realizing is there is a huge critical mass of talent in the Detroit area,” said Sherif Marakby, a long-time Ford veteran who joined Uber as its head of vehicle development earlier this year. At a news conference in the suburb of Novi, he announced this week plans to build a new autonomous vehicle development facility in the region. (more…)