DETROIT — When Silicon Valley made its foray into autonomous and electric vehicles, there was a palpable fear in certain corners of Michigan that the state's primary economic engine would be usurped and carried away.
That hasn't materialized. If anything, companies in both locations have better recognized the value of each other's contributions to the overall industry.
Case in point: Last week, Waymo solidified its plans to establish an advanced manufacturing facility in the heart of Detroit, signing a multiyear lease on an idled American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. factory.
Starting as early as this summer, the Google subsidiary will use the refurbished facility to fit its self-driving systems onto base vehicles provided by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Waymo has partnered with Magna International Inc. to handle that work. At the outset, Magna is expected to hire about 100 employees. Eventually, they will also install the self-driving systems on Jaguar I-Pace EVs. Waymo says the factory could employ as many as 400 workers by 2024.
It remains unclear whether those workers will be represented by the UAW. Magna referred questions on the work force to Waymo; a company spokesperson said last week that Waymo is in the early stages of determining the makeup of its team and would share more information later.