Hard Work of Ohio Automotive Industry on Display at North American International Auto Show
Senior Managing Director of Automotive for JobsOhio
This past weekend, more than 208,000 people descended on Detroit for the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to get a glimpse of the more than 700 vehicles on display. In the market for a new vehicle myself, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful new 2016 models making their international debut, not to mention the new driver assist and infotainment features being integrated into the vehicles. Instead I kept my focus squarely on those companies we were there to visit, especially those that proudly carry the “built in Ohio” badge.
This is the fifth consecutive year of JobsOhio’s participation in the show, while simultaneously meeting with leadership from automakers that have operations in Ohio. These meetings are one of many touch points throughout the year with our automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Ohio. Supporting the retention and continued expansion of our existing OEMs is important to JobsOhio’s automotive strategy. This year, Ohio’s Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor joined us for her first visit to NAIAS, and met with companies during media week where more than 50 vehicles made their international debut.
We met with all four of Ohio’s automakers: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Ford, General Motors (GM) and Honda, who collectively employ more than 35,000 people in Ohio. There’s another 70,000 employed at any one of the hundreds of supplier facilities around the state. Ohio’s total employment is up nearly 25 percent since 2011, a sign of the incredible resurgence in the industry and a true testament to the strength of Ohio as an automotive state.
We heard how automaker leadership is embracing the advancements in self-driving technology. They are energized about the potential of innovative partnerships with nontraditional partners including Google, Apple, Uber and Lyft, as well as the implementation of autonomous technology in vehicles. GM talked about their upcoming super cruise technology that will allow passengers to drive hands-free on the highway, and how their new ownership stake in Lyft will help them introduce a new car-sharing platform to consumers, called Maven. Ford hinted at things to come from their work with Google to build self-driving cars. FCA confirmed their upcoming plans to introduce a new Jeep Wrangler Truck, and Honda introduced a new Acura concept car called the Precision.
I was also proud to see the hard work of Ohioans on display in the Motor City. For example:
- Ford wowed NAIAS guests with the introduction of the new F-150 Raptor truck.
- GM showed off the all-new redesigned Chevy Cruze sedan, which our workforce builds in Lordstown.
- FCA’s phenomenally popular Jeep Wrangler – exported globally from Toledo – won four IHS Automotive Loyalty Awards and the Highest Conquest Percentage Award at the Automotive News dinner and introduced a 75th Anniversary Special-Edition Model.
- Honda’s preproduction 2016 Acura NSX made its debut and will be on sale this spring.
Many of us are well aware of Ohio’s rich automotive history. But it’s always exciting to see so much of it in one place at the NAIAS last week and to get a glimpse of how Ohio is continuing to be a part of the industry’s future.