PDA Q&A: Glenn Stevens
Vice President, MICHauto and Strategic Development, Detroit Regional Chamber
DB: Where are you?
GS: At the CES Show in Las Vegas. It’s my second year (attending). This year there’s a larger automotive footprint (than last year), but it’s nothing like the North American International Auto Show (in Detroit). There are some auto press conferences, but there’s also big rooms filled with iPhone cases and other tech accessories.
DB: How was Detroit represented?
GS: Ford and Delphi have been here a long time, and you see a number of foreign companies, as well as pure technology companies that are getting into the automotive space. There’s a real convergence going on, but when you look at companies like Google and Apple, which are trying to take their tech skills and put them into cars, the automakers are already building cars that are loaded with tech gadgets — so the auto industry is really in a good position.
DB: What else is going on?
GS: Chevrolet introduced the Bolt, and there were a couple of concept cars that were introduced, including a Volkswagen Microbus (BUDD-e) that’s patterned after the old Microbus. Ford introduced a program with DJI (a Chinese technology company) that invites developers to fly a drone from the back of a Ford F-150 and undertake a search-and-rescue mission, and then have it fly back to the pickup bed, all while the vehicle is moving. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out.
DB: How does Detroit compare to Las Vegas for conventions?
GS: Really well. Everything at CES is spread out across the city, where in Detroit we just completed $279 million in renovations at Cobo Center. It really is a jewel, plus everything is in one place. In addition, we have a great airport that is very efficient and well-run. I remember going to the ITS show in Bordeaux, France, last summer, and people were commenting that the show should have been back in Detroit (it was held at Belle Isle in summer 2014). Cobo Center and the airport are going to reap benefits for the entire state of Michigan for years to come.