Gov. Rick Snyder, state launches "Planet M" campaign, positioning Michigan as global leader in mobility innovation

New campaign paves the way for the future of connected and autonomous vehicles, transportation and mobility technology  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – Capitalizing on the state’s leading role in the automotive industry, Gov. Rick Snyder today announced a new campaign – Planet M – created to elevate Michigan as the hub of mobility innovations, leading to more business investment and jobs in the state.  

The campaign’s tagline – “Michigan. Where big ideas in mobility are born” – summarizes Snyder’s mission to grow high-profile business sectors including the technologies and services that will enable Michigan to be the leader in the reinvention of transportation industry.

The campaign was strategically launched during the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference where Snyder and regional leaders are discussing the convergence of auto and technology and its impact on Michigan’s economy.

“Planet M represents Michigan’s future as a leader in mobility and the innovations that will continue to attract investment in our state,” Snyder said. “Michigan has always been the automotive industry leader, and as the transportation industry evolves, our state’s influence will continue to shape the way the world moves.”

More than half of the world’s population live in towns and cities, and by 2040, researchers project that two out of three people will live in urban environments. As residents change the way they live, travel and use services, many of the technologies that are changing the transportation industry will be conceptualized, tested and created in Michigan.

Centered on the future of transportation mobility technology, innovators know that in order to achieve success, connected and autonomous vehicles will need to communicate not only with other vehicles on the road, but also with infrastructure, pedestrians, bicyclists and trains.

By 2017, Michigan will be home to two permanent and purpose-built autonomous vehicle testing sites – the only facilities of their kind in the country. Mcity, a 32-acre site that opened in 2015, simulates urban and suburban environments. The American Center for Mobility, a 335-acre site at the former Willow Run location, will provide additional testing and validation resources for the industry including higher speeds and interaction with rail and flight.

"At MDOT, our focus is on mobility -- getting travelers to their destinations and goods to market as safely and efficiently as possible," said Kirk T. Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. "Connected and autonomous vehicle technology holds promise as another major disruptive innovation, and Planet M ties it all together."

Other key points highlighted by the MEDC to support the Planet M campaign include:

  • Michigan is home to the largest concentration of engineers in the nation.
  • Many automotive manufacturers and suppliers are either based in the state or hold a major presence here, including seven global auto research and development companies with headquarters based in Michigan: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Toyota.
  • Michigan boasts the largest deployment of freeway and surface street Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology in the United States. Researchers expect 120 miles of a technology-enabled “smart corridor” will span I-96, I-696, I-94 and US-23. Future deployments on I-69 and I-75 will broaden the scope of testing capabilities.
  • Michigan is home to an all-weather environment, which is critical in testing autonomous technologies.
  • Michigan leads the nation in patents relating to navigation and smart mobility.
  • Michigan schools have specialized programs to focus on automotive technology and design, such as the K-12 program Square One, community college programs like Washtenaw Community College and university programs at schools including The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

While Michigan’s assets and business ecosystem are already supporting companies and innovations, the campaign will elevate awareness for the state’s competitive strengths on a national level. 

“When I’m in Washington, I always remind people that Michigan is not just smokestacks and manufacturing, it is a high tech state and a leader in new automotive technology,” said Senator Gary Peters. “Taking advantage of these automotive innovations will require collaboration between local, state and federal government, the auto industry, the technology sector and academia to ensure that Michigan is at the forefront of the future of mobility. The launch of the Planet M brand will show America and the rest of the world that Michigan is the leader in 21st century transportation.”

The Planet M campaign is part of overall efforts made by Michigan business leaders to promote the state’s business ecosystem assets in the smart mobility sector. 

Last year during the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Michigan Mobility Initiative was announced. Led by a coalition of essential statewide business, automotive and university groups, the goal of the initiative is to strengthen, protect and promote the state’s global leadership in high-tech research and development into self-driving cars, connected vehicles, new fuel technologies and other important innovations

“Mobility is going to be Michigan’s 21st century calling card,” said Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “With our existing automotive footprint and assets, we are already positioned to be the global leader for autonomous and connected vehicle technology. However, the world is changing so quickly we can’t take it for granted, we must show how Michigan is adapting to remain the home of mobility.”

Planet M is a consortium representing the public sector, private sector, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. While not a formal organization, some of the early partners working to advance Michigan’s image and mobility attractiveness include partners at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), MDOT, Business Leaders for Michigan, MichAuto and University Research Corridor.

“Michigan’s auto ecosystem and solid infrastructure has now opened the doors to other industries and innovators,” said Steve Arwood, director of the Talent and Economic Development Department. “Michigan is strengthening its position as the hub for the next generation of transportation, and Planet M will elevate those strengths to a national and international audience.”

More information about Planet M will be available on in the coming weeks.  

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