The Spartan Podcast


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“This is one of the fundamental challenges facing the United States auto industry,” Detroit News business columnist and associate business editor Daniel Howes tells Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes in discussing the future of autonomous vehicles. “This is a battle for technological edge and competitive advantage between Detroit’s auto industry and tech companies in Silicon Valley.”

General Motors and Ford, in particular, adds Howes “understand that they’re facing some fundamental change in the industry, but they don’t think the traditional business is going to go away anytime soon.”

Howes says Silicon Valley companies “are looking for the next big chunk of growth as a way to maintain the growth and earnings momentum they’ve been delivering to the marketplace, and one of the places they see that is in transportation.

“Mark Fields (Ford’s president and CEO) made the point to me that the global auto industry accounts for about $2.5 trillion in annual revenue while transportation services like self-driving cars and ridesharing globally is about $5.3 trillion. So who wouldn’t want to be a part of that business?”

He sees three main criteria the state of Michigan must observe if they have want to be a player and a leader in the expanding transportation industry with Silicon Valley – a long term strategy that leverages the state’s strengths, a realization that the auto industry is changing fundamentally, and a coming to grips with the reality that “the Motor City is not entitled to all of this because they are Detroit; they’re going to have to fight and compete for it and they’re going to have to win.”

Heinze and Howes also talk about how Michigan has to fix many of its infrastructure issues in order to attract the entrepreneurs necessary to make Michigan a leader in the transportation industry in the future. And Howes talks about the palpable resurgence of Detroit.

“There are a lot of people who are investing in the city big and small who want to be part of what Dan Gilbert has started. There’s a lot of pent up demand in Detroit, and I think it’s a very positive thing.”

Greening of the Great Lakes airs every Sunday evening at 7:00 on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state each weekend via the Michigan Talk Network.

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