French mobility company NAVYA recently announced that they want their vehicles to be built by Michigan. Partnering with Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), NAVYA made plans to open a plant in Saline, Michigan, bringing with it $1 million in capital investment, a $435,000 Michigan Business Development performance based grant and 50 jobs.
This will be NAVYA’s first production facility in the US, where the company hopes to produce 25 units of the ARMA—a fully autonomous and electric shuttle with a 15 person capacity—by the end of 2017, which is an ambitious and exciting goal. There is currently a fleet of 45 ARMA’s deployed worldwide so that the Saline facility will offer a significant expansion. ARMA shuttles serve as a first and last mile transportations solution, which adds some exciting diversity to the scope of Michigan EV and autonomous development.
NAVYA chose Saline after receiving assistance from SPARK and the MEDC with site selection and talent recruitment. Christophe Sapet, CEO of Navya, expressed excitement about the greater Ann Arbor area’s development as “a hub for autonomous vehicle development.” The MEDC and SPARK seem to be of like minds on the matter, with Paul Krutko, President, and CEO of SPARK, saying “we’re excited to add depth to our technical prowess in this region, and to be part of NAVYA tapping into the manufacturing and engineering capabilities here.”
While this is big news, it isn’t NAVYA’s first Michigan connection. The company has already established a partnership with Mcity at the University of Michigan, where two ARMA’s will shuttle students on a two-mile circular route. The ARMA is built to handle light snow and rain, uses 17 satellites to pinpoint its location on the road, and, for now, the two University of Michigan units have a safety monitor on board, so University parents need not be worried.
This bus may be designed by France, but now it will be built and studied, by Michigan.