Michigan Looking for Transportation Workers

Burney Simpson

Transportation safety-related jobs in Michigan have bounced back since the Great Recession and now make up nearly 13 percent of the state’s workforce, according to a recently released study.

There were 564,477 transportation-safety jobs in Michigan in 2014, a 13 percent increase since 2009 when they bottomed out at 498,274.

Despite the rise, Michigan still isn’t back to its pre-recession level of 597,032 jobs in the category, according to the Transportation Safety Workforce Report 2015 by the ATLAS Center at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the Workforce Intelligence Network, and the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility Alliance (MAGMA).

The authors grouped these jobs into three large clusters – engineering & design; operations; and planning.

The engineering cluster covers safety engineering in manufacturing vehicles and their components. Operations covers occupation that ensure the transportation system operates safely. And planning refers to the planning and building of the systems.

Michigan needs young people to enter the field. About 112,000, or 20 percent, of the workers in transportation safety in Michigan are 55 or older, and will need to be replaced as they retire in the next 10 years.

And there’s a growing need for people trained to work in areas related to connected, autonomous and automated technology, according to MAGMA, which seeks to advance new technology in mobility and automobile manufacturing.

To find the most in-demand jobs, the study tracked the top five transportation-safety related job postings in 2014 by Michigan employers.

Coming in neck and neck for the most sought after employee were heavy- and tractor-trailer truck drivers, with 17,000 ads, beating out software developers, with 16,600 ads.

There was also a demand for mechanical engineers who could contribute to the design of safe automobiles and their accessories, with about 7,000 ad postings.  

Fleets Will SAEV Bucks with Driverless Electrics: Study

Burney Simpson

A fleet of driverless electric vehicles could be operated for 42 to 49 cents per mile, very competitive with costs per-mile for car-sharing services, and close to operating costs for private vehicle owners.

Running a fleet of these SAEVs, or Shared Autonomous Electric Vehicles, would be “significantly cheaper than on-demand driver-operated transportation services” like a traditional cab company or Uber.

These conclusions come from “Operations of A Shared, Autonomous Electric Vehicle Fleet: Implications of Vehicle & Charging Infrastructure Decisions,” a study geared to fleet owners seeking to reduce costs.

The study is by Kara M. Kockelman, the E.P. Schoch professor of engineering at the University of Texas at Austin; T. Donna Chen, assistant professor, department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Virginia; and Josiah P. Hanna, at the University of Texas at Austin.

Uber and other on-demand cab firms have made no secret they are looking to reduce their dependence on drivers. Meanwhile, Ford and other auto OEMs are expanding their driverless test research to speed development of the technology.


In their financial analysis, the authors considered such costs as vehicle purchase, maintenance and insurance, charging infrastructure cost, administration, gallon of gasoline vs. electric charge per kilowatt hour, and so on.

The authors then created a model geographic area for their car-sharing service.

They overlaid a 100 mile by 100 mile grid over the Austin metro area, and divided it into four zones – downtown, urban, suburban, and exurban. The grid was further broken down into 160,000 quarter mile by quarter mile cells.

chevrolet-en-v-concept-car-Red2Each zone had its own average trip generation rate, and average peak and off-peak travel times.

The many cost and trip variables led to the 42 to 49 cents per-mile range for operating a SAEV in a car-sharing service.

The authors contend that a SAEV equipped car-sharing service could charge 66 to 74 cents per occupied mile of travel.

That compares favorably to the 70 cents to $1.23 that Car2Go charges in Austin, and the equivalent $1.50 to $3.18 per-mile fee charged by Uber, according to the study.

Indeed, the SAEV cost is competitive with AAA’s 2014 estimate of 40 to 95 cents per-mile that it costs someone to operate their own vehicle.


There are several barriers to a SAEV system. First, fully autonomous cars aren’t available, and second the pushback against electric vehicles by consumers and fleet operators.

Many cite range anxiety, the fear that the vehicle will stop dead when its charge is depleted. Fleets have concerns about building a charging infrastructure, and managing the charge time for vehicles.

In response, the report put together cost comparisons when building such an infrastructure and found that it could be cheaper for a car-sharing fleet to operate driverless electric vehicles than comparable gas-powered cars.

Vehicles with driverless technology will be more expensive to purchase, though the operator will save on the driver’s compensation. No driver also means the vehicle could be in near-continuous operation, except when it is being charged.

A single SAEV with an 80-mile range could replace as many as 3.7 privately owned vehicles, if operators use a Level 2 charge that can take around 3-4 hours. A vehicle with a 200-mile range (think Tesla) could replace 5.5 vehicles when using a Level 2 charge.

HighwaysEngland2It would be even more efficient to use a Level 3 charge, which can give an electric the equivalent of an 80 percent fill up in 30 minutes.

A SAEV with an 80-mile range using a Level 3 charge would replace 5.4 standard vehicles, while a single 200-mile range SAEV would replace 6.8 vehicles.

Managing charging systems for a fleet of SAEVs takes a toll however. This fleet could see an additional 7 to 14 percent more travel miles as the vehicles run empty between charge stations and passenger pick up spots.

It should be no surprise that Level 3 charge systems cost more than the Level 2 systems. But costs have been dropping, and could well be even cheaper when fully autonomous vehicles are widely available.

The authors note that using an inductive, or wireless, charging system could bring costs down further, though a wireless Level 3 is not now commercially available. Google has been testing a wireless-induction system in California, according to reports.

In a previous study, Kockelman found that 41 percent of American consumers would pay an average of $14,600 extra for technology that made their vehicle fully autonomous (See “40% of Consumers Would Pay Extra for Driverless Tech”).

Images by Chevrolet, Highways England.

D20 Stock Index week ending November 27 2015

VW’s Dead Cat Bounce Lifts D20 Index

Driverless Transportation

With 13 gainers, six losers, and NVIDIA (NVDA) unchanged, the Driverless Transportation Stock Index (D20) gained 0.6 percent last week to close at 162.24. In a relatively quiet week for the indexes, the D20 edged out the Dow Jones Industrials decline of 0.1 percent and the virtually unchanged S&P 500.

Leading the D20 Index this week, Volkswagen (VLKPY), in a typical ‘dead cat bounce’, gained a whopping 17.2 percent to end at $26.36. There was little news other than Volkswagen’s refusal to compensate European vehicle owners for the rigged emissions tests, so the only explanation for the price jump is that short investors bought stock to cover their bets. Volkswagen has lost 31 percent of its value since early September.

The biggest loser for the D20 this week was the Chinese electric car and battery maker BYD (BYDDY), shedding 13 percent of its value and closing at $10.56. BYD’s share price continues its rollercoaster ride, plummeting to a low of $7.70 and rising to a high of $12.53 in the last 12 weeks, a range of almost 63 percent.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Record High for D20 Index

Driverless Transportation

With 19 gainers and only one loser, the Driverless Transportation Index (D20) displayed impressive strength last week by jumping 4.4 percent to an all time high of 161.34. The D20 outperformed the Dow which gained 3.4 percent to close the week at 17823.81 and the S&P 500 which, in its best week of 2015, added 3.3 percent to finish at 2089.17.

The lone smudge on an almost perfect week was Volvo AB (VOLVY), the Swedish truck manufacturer, as it announced it was idling its US plant for two-and-a-half weeks in December due to excessive inventory and softening demand. Volvo’s ADR stock price lost 1.1 percent of its market capitalization and ended the week at $10.18

The D20 has breached the 160 mark three separate times in the last five weeks and has added 14 percent to its value in the last eight weeks. Since its inception at 139.7 on August 1, 2014, the D20 has ranged from 130.01 (down 6.9 percent) on October 17, 2014 to last Friday’s close of 161.34 (up 15.5 percent).  Linear regression (displayed as the dotted black line in the graphic here) places the D20’s growth at 13.4 points per year, or 9.6 percent.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

TomTom is D20’s Lone Star

Driverless Transportation

Last week, the Driverless Transportation Index (D20) followed the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials down dramatically as all three indexes lost more than 3 percent of their value. The D20 Index lost 3.9 percent, finishing the week at 154.59 while the Dow dropped 3.7 percent and the S&P 500 discarded 3.6 percent of its value.

Trading in the D20 last week was almost unanimous with 19 losers and a sole gainer, TomTom (TOM2), the high-tech mapmaker. TomTom jumped €0.82, or 8 percent, to finish at €11.03.  TomTom’s stock price hit a six-year high as Uber agreed to use its digital maps and traffic data for more than 300 cities around the world. As the last independent supplier of detailed mapping information, rumors continue to swirl around TomTom as an acquisition target. Since its inclusion in the D20 on August 28, TomTom’s stock price is up 23 percent.

The rest of the D20 was not as promising as a trio of D20 stocks lost more than 10 percent of their value. Blackberry (BBRY) gave up gains recorded the previous week, losing 10.1 percent to finish the week at $7.21. Tesla (TSLA), a top gainer the previous week, gave up that success and finished at $207.19, down 10.8 percent. Magna International (MGA) fell 10.1 percent to $43.40 for its third consecutive weekly loss.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Driverless Index Crawls Over 160

Driverless Transportation

The Driverless Transportation (D20) Stock Index crawled above 160 for the second time in its history, ending the week up 1.1 percent at 160.83. Gainers outpaced losers 13 to seven as the D20 couldn’t keep up with the 1.4 percent rise in the Dow Jones Industrials which ended the week at 17910.33. The D20 slightly outperformed the S&P 500 and its rise of nearly 1 percent to finish at 2099.2.

Tesla (TSLA) was the D20 leader, increasing its stock price 12.3 percent to close the week at $232.36. Tesla has been having trouble meeting the demand for its Model S but its stock soared after its third quarter report revealed that it broke quarterly production records. NVIDIA (NVDA) was a D20 bright spot as well. It finished up 11.2 percent at $31.55 as it announced surprisingly good third quarter results.

Volkswagen’s (VLKPY) steep descent continued, dropping 12.6 percent to finish the week at $21.09 as its emissions scandal continues to deepen. Models from Audi and Porsche, both subsidiaries of Volkswagen, have now been implicated as well. It has lost 45 percent of its market cap since mid September.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.


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