Freep: MI's "Road to Recovery" Paved With R&D Gold

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The Detroit Free Press takes its turn as hometown cheerleader, touting Michigan as the U.S. auto industry's current and future "think tank." "The state has reached a historic crossroads," Katherine Yung opines. "Even as it sheds much of the business of building cars and trucks, Michigan is quietly growing its ability to design and create the next generation of vehicles." Quietly eh? Sound kinda tenuous to me. To wit: note the word "can" in the following quote: "Experts say that even as Michigan diversifies its economy, it can grow by expanding its role as the auto industry's knowledge capital." In terms of hard facts, Sean McAlinden, vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, reckons The Wolverine State captures nearly 80% of the $16.7b spent on American automotive research and development. Buried amongst details of new investments and quotes from the happy campers who might expand their Michigan-based R&D facilities, CSM Veep Michael Robinet predicts that "basic development work for different vehicle platforms may decline." The future, then, is in "hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles." Although Yung sees Tesla's new Rochester Hills' research center as a sign of things to come, that could cut either way.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on Dec 10, 2007

    So they are quietly building this skill base while significant percentages of engineers are laid off and companies like VW are taxed out of the state? I believe Michigan is also dead last on the retention rate of college grads. Must be really, really quiet..

  • Reginald b hartfordshire Reginald b hartfordshire on Dec 10, 2007

    GM, F and Chrysler would be best served if they moved their exterior and interior designers to SoCal....leaving the management and mechanical engineers in RenCen/Dearborn. (unless I'm mistaken and the 2.8's designers are already in SoCal.) But then again.....having Ford's Prestige Auto Group hq'd in SoCal didn't help Jag/Volvo. Maybe Chrysler should just turn give up on its own brands and turn into a contract manufacturer like Solectron/Magna. The Germans need North American assembly to hedge against weak dollar....the Asians need more capacity.