DETROIT -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expected next week to announce the appointment of Nigel Francis, a former vice president at Mercedes-Benz AG and defunct Bright Automotive Inc., as an automotive adviser to the state.
Francis will begin the role at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. on Sept. 3, several sources told Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Francis was most recently chief engineer of alternative powertrain vehicles and technologies for Tata Technologies Inc. in Novi. Before that, he was COO for Marina Del Ray, Calif.-based electric-drivetrain supplier Trexa LLC.
The MEDC declined to provide details ahead of the announcement, but confirmed Francis' role. It's unclear what his job description will entail.
Francis' focus in the past four years has been on streamlining operations at automotive startups. He became Trexa COO in May 2011, attempting to launch the company's electric vehicle platforms.
He joined Trexa after leaving Bright Automotive before its eventual closure in March 2012.
He joined Bright in 2009. It was founded in 2008 from technology spun out of a consortium including Google Inc., Rocky Mountain Institute, Alcoa, Johnson Controls Inc. and the Turner Foundation.
The plan was to commercialize a lightweight aluminum-bodied delivery van capable of achieving 85 mpg. Bright had secured General Motors Co. as an investor and signed a manufacturing contract with AM General LLC. It employed 60 workers -- 40 in Michigan.
Bright eventually abandoned its efforts to commercialize its hybrid plug-in delivery van after withdrawing its application to secure a $314 million U.S. Department of Energy loan last year.
Francis also served as a vice president of technology at Mercedes-Benz and president and COO of RLE International's U.S. operations in Madison Heights and president of Farmington Hills-based ESI Group.