State DOT Director Replaces CEO of American Center for Mobility 

The American Center for Mobility, the Ypsilanti Township, MI-based public-private entity developing and testing advanced automotive technologies, announced this week that it has parted ways with John Maddox, its president and CEO.

Taking the helm on an interim basis is Kirk Steudle, the long-serving director of Michigan’s Department of Transportation. ACM did not give a reason for the personnel change in its press release, saying only that the “the board also expressed their appreciation for the efforts of John Maddox in launching the organization.”

Maddox’s LinkedIn profile has not been updated to reflect a new job position. An ACM spokesperson said that Steudle was on vacation and therefore unavailable to comment.

Steudle has worked for the Department of Transportation since 1987 and was appointed director in 2006. He is known for his expertise in transportation policy and has long been an advocate for Michigan’s leadership role in the development of autonomous vehicles. Plus, he’s popular on both sides of the political aisle. He has been at the forefront of crafting the state’s AV regulations, which he characterized as the among the first and most progressive in the country during an April Xconomy interview.

“The only other state out there [with autonomous vehicle safety regulations] in early 2016 was California—by then, they had passed very heavy regulation,” Steudle said in April. “We said, ‘That’s not the right answer for Michigan.’”

Steudle has traveled to Washington, DC, to testify at Congressional hearings for the SELF DRIVE Act, legislation outlining federal safety regulations for AVs. It was introduced in 2017 and is now moving through committee. He said that Michigan is so far “doing really well” in its efforts to advance the mobility industry.

“Everyone in the [Michigan] mobility space—TARDEC, MDOT, the MEDC, Mcity, the Detroit Chamber, etc.—gets together to talk, so we’re coordinated,” Steudle said. “Most other states don’t have the assets we have. The Governor [Rick Snyder] said we have to stop tripping over each other. I’ve really seen it come together in the past six months, and that wasn’t the case a year and a half ago.”

Steudle also had a lead role in launching ACM, which received a reported $35 million in state funding for its initial construction. The first phase of ACM, including a 2.5 mile highway loop complete with on and off ramps, opened last December; the second phase, which includes a headquarters building and technology park, is currently under construction.

According to ACM’s press release, Steudle will lead the organization “through transition” while a national search is mounted for a permanent chief executive. He will also remain the director of MDOT during the search process.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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