“The Future of Ford” at The Michigan Train Depot in Detroit’s Corktown area

Bryan Barnhill is the Detroit Engagement Manager for Ford's Smart Mobility development.

DETROIT — The Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA) hosted a special event on Wednesday evening called “The Future of Ford.” It was held at Bobcat Bonnies, just steps away from the Michigan Central Train Depot that Ford Motor Co. purchased earlier this summer.

Bryan Barnhill, Detroit City Manager of City Solutions Group and Ford Smart Mobility, was asked: Why did Ford buy this old building down the street?

He mentioned a 12-day traffic jam in Beijing that happened in 2013 and said more cities will have congestion problems in the future.  Istanbul, Turkey’s commute can take as long as four hours to get to work.  Four drivers found the most efficient route for drivers.  That four-hour commute went down to 20 minutes.  Ford is working on reducing congestion and lowering CO2 emissions.

“So how can we place this level of convenience in the hands of the people?  “Here at Ford, we find the capability of certain modes of transportation to form the most efficient way of transporting people.  We are in the process of bringing new mobility options to the table.  We identify market opportunities in cities and those cities will be a rich opportunity for mobility changes,” explained Barnhill.

“As a result, Ford needed a permanent presence.  The legacy of that building (Michigan Central Station) is a corridor to Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Canada and the airport.  We also purchased the Detroit Public Schools Book Depository Building and the Lincoln Brass Works Factory Building with 1.2 million square feet of redevelopment.”

The probability of innovation will increase.  “No more than 50 percent of this building will be Ford employees.  Small business and entrepreneurs will also occupy and interact with Ford.  “We want to preserve the 65-foot Grand Hall.  The middle floors will be office space and the top level will be residential,” added Barnhill.

The intersection of Rosa Parks and Michigan Avenue is called The Factory.  “I am part of the City Solutions Group which understands mobility challenges and how they exist in the future.  I have the pleasure of working in the City of Detroit.  We have acquired several various modes of transportation such as scooters, self-driving vehicles and shared transit which are solutions to transporting people other than public transportation.  We developed Urban Data Platform which visualizes public data such as parking rates, neighborhood patterns, crime patterns, etc. so you can make more informed decisions. This is part of City Solutions.”

“Not only did Ford purchase the train station, we also acquired several train tracks with the possibility of the return of passenger rail service,” added Barnhill.

The President of SAA, Chris Brower, discussed what the SAA is about along with the Toyota event happening next week.

For more information about the SAA or the upcoming Toyota R&D tour, visit www.SAAauto.com.


Chris Brower, President of SAA


Attendees listening to Bryan Barnhill from Ford



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