Michigan has created a new Automotive Industry Office within the Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC).
The Automotive Industry Office will be headed up by Nigel J. Francis, who has been named as automotive adviser.
The office and Francis will provide support and collaborate with the state’s business attraction specialists and assist in the effort to define Michigan as a global center for the automotive industry.
Francis has almost three decades of experience as an executive in the global automotive industry. He has previously worked as CTO and COO for Trexa LLC, and before that as an executive vice president at the now defunct startup Bright Automotive where he led the development of hybrid and all EV programs.
His most recent position was with Tata Technologies in Troy and Novi, MI, where he led program management and advanced engineering of new vehicles for the emerging and European markets.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said that Nigel Francis would provide leadership and expertise that will be instrumental for implementation of a strategic plan for driving the state’s automotive industry forward.
Francis himself said that it was a privilege and an honor to serve in this role, especially since Michigan’s automotive industry was now regaining its global competitiveness.
He said he was passionate about stimulating jobs and business in the auto industry, and looked forward to working together with academia and the automotive community for ensuring growth in Michigan’s share of the global automotive business.
MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney said that as the state develops strategies for growing business, they recognize the need to have a way for reaching senior automotive industry executives. Finney said it was critical to bring on someone such as Nigel Francis who has large corporate and entrepreneurial experience, as well as industry specific and global cultural awareness.
Michigan has an estimated 21 percent share of the projected 2013 U.S. vehicle production volume of 15.3 million. New vehicle spending in the U.S. has ballooned 48 percent ($500 billion) since 2009, and Michigan’s automotive employment has followed suit, growing by 31 percent in the same period.
The Big Three – GM, Ford and Chrysler, have all posted double-digit growth in their July 2013 sales as compared to July 2012. Between January and May 2013, auto companies in Michigan have made announcements of $760 million in new investments and created 6,000 jobs.
Michigan’s supplier network includes 61 out of the top 100 auto suppliers in North America, and the state gets 70 percent of the auto industry’s research and development spending.