Google Joins Ford in Detroit EV Research Hub Project

Michigan also is getting in on the efforts by pledging $126 million in support.

February 07, 2022

Google and Ford Conference Room

DETROIT—Ford announced in 2018 that it will turn a dilapidated Detroit train station into a research hub focused on electric and self-driving vehicles, and now Google is joining Ford in its efforts, reports the Associated Press. The state of Michigan also is partnering with Ford by pledging more than $126 million in infrastructure, programming and other support.

“Today's announcements reflect our commitment to that vision, attracting the best and the brightest to come together to solve some of the world's toughest challenges,” said Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford, in a news release. “The arrival of Google as a founding partner is exactly the kind of investment and progress I knew was possible to revitalize our hometown. And I could not be more pleased that the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan are also joining us in this ambitious effort.”

Since 2018, Ford has invested $740 million in the Michigan Central Innovation District that is expected to host 5,000 workers, and renovations could be finished by next year. Google will open a lab on the site to teach computer science to high school students, which includes a certification program.

“This partnership will expand our work in Michigan and help a substantial number of people gain the skills and tools they need to succeed. By offering digital skills training, mentoring to high schoolers learning to code, and Google Cloud technology for Michigan Central projects and research on the future of mobility, we look forward to contributing to Michigan Central's mission and all it will accomplish,” said Ruth Porat, chief financial officer, Google.

Ford recently announced it plans to spend up to $20 billion more on its EV initiatives. The plan is called Ford+, and the company wants investors to value it as a technology company, as Ford and other rivals try to compete with Tesla in the EV space. The increase in spending is being led by former Tesla executive Doug Field. Ford already pledged $30 billion toward its EV investments by 2030. It’s planning to build a new assembly plant and three battery factories.

Last month, General Motors said it is investing over $7 billion in four Michigan manufacturing sites to increase its battery cell and electric truck manufacturing capacity—GM’s largest investment announcement in its history. GM says it wants to become the EV market leader by 2025.

Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Ram and other auto brands, said its Chrysler brand would go exclusively electric by 2028. Sony revealed it is entering the EV market by creating and selling its own EVs. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the EQXX, a new electric concept car that the automaker says will be able to travel 620 miles on a single charge, based on computer modeling.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced plans to build the first road in the U.S. that charges electric cars while they’re driving on it. The Michigan Department of Transportation also has planned a connected and autonomous vehicle corridor in Southeast Michigan and has more mobility-related patents than any other state and more engineers per capita than anywhere else in the world, the state says. Michigan joined four other Midwest states in a coalition to create an electric vehicle charging network.

EV charging infrastructure continues to be a roadblock in EV adoption in the United States. Last year, the Biden Administration released details of its plan to build out an EV charging infrastructure using $7.5 billion in grant funds that were included in the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in November. NACS recently filed comments with the Federal Highway Administration on its upcoming guidelines for this alternative fueling infrastructure.