Detroit “Motor City” now stakes claim to be capital of autos’ future

The Motor City’s historic strength in manufacturing is enabling it to become the center for the future of the automotive industry.

Just a few years ago, conventional thinking assumed Silicon Valley’s tech heavyweights held the upper hand in producing the next generation of vehicles. That was before the extensive problems experienced by electric-vehicle start-up Tesla Inc. in building EVs at its California plant, among other challenges to the tech-will-prevail thesis.

“There was this thinking that Silicon Valley was going to crush Detroit, that they knew how to do it better,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Cox Automotive. “Well, reality has set in” that Detroit knows is how to make cars. “Yes, they can be autonomous, they can be EVs. But … you still have to know how to build a car.”

Detroit does. And recent investments by all three Detroit automakers as well as a Silicon Valley self-driving company are helping the city build on its legacy of manufacturing know-how to stake the claim as the nation’s center for self-driving and electric vehicles.