General Motors Co. is planning to pilot autonomous, electric city cars called EN-Vs in Shanghai, China.
Thursday night at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, GM’s North America president, Mark Reuss, proposed the second pilot be held in Detroit.
“That would take an unprecedented effort of cooperation between business and government — something that happens in other areas of the world,” Reuss said. “But isn’t that why we’re up here? That and I guess the fudge.”
Reuss said GM and Detroit were formerly world-respected centers of innovation, pointing to GM’s Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair and Futurama II at the 1964 World’s Fair. “Back then Detroit was a respected national treasure, not an object of derision,” Reuss said. And he said GM and Detroit could lead again with a project like the EN-V. “Detroit is the perfect place to try this, in my opinion,” Reuss said.
“I would have loved to bring you one of them here today, but there’s a horse issue here, and a whole lot of stairs issue, and a permit issue, and frankly I just don’t have the stomach to fight it all,” Reuss said. “But you can see them in Warren and Detroit.”
Reuss, who started 30 years ago as a GM summer intern, joked that car-free Mackinac Island is “a great place for the whole state except for General Motors. In all honesty, this has to be the worst retail market that we have anywhere. I mean, we haven’t even sold a vehicle here ever, so we’ve really got to pick up our game on that one.”
He said GM’s leaders “continue to make real progress in organizing the largest corporate turnaround in history.”
He also lauded GM’s $27 million contribution in December to seven urban high schools in an attempt to make them more academically competitive.