Navya to open its first US autonomous shuttle production facility in Michigan


French autonomous shuttle developer and manufacturer Navya has announced that its new US production plant will be located in the city of Saline, Michigan, with a 20,000ft²+ facility.

Navya’s breakthrough ARMA shuttle has become a global leader in ‘first- and last-mile’ transportation solutions, with a fleet of 45 vehicles deployed worldwide, and more than 170,000 passengers transported to date. The vehicle aims to provide a complement to current public transportation systems over distances that are too short to go by car, or are too long on foot. With the addition of its new plant in Saline, the company will be able to boost production significantly to serve the growing North American market. Navya plans to build approximately 25 of its ARMA fully autonomous shuttle vehicles at the plant before the close of 2017.

Navya’s ARMA is a reliable and comfortable 100% autonomous, driverless and electric public transport vehicle that can carry up to 15 people, while optimizing navigation and safety. The ARMA can reach speeds of 28mph (45km/h), although taking into account the nature of the sites it often serves, this is usually limited to 15mph (24km/h).

Navya has collaborated on the project with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Ann Arbor SPARK business promotion initiative, which have assisted with site selection and talent recruitment. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of more than US$1m and create 50 jobs, resulting in a US$435,000 Michigan Business Development performance-based grant. The funds are approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the MEDC. Going forward, Ann Arbor SPARK will help Navya locate the employees it needs to continue its growth at its new manufacturing facility in Saline.

“We could not be more pleased to call Saline, Michigan, home to our first assembly plant in North America,” said Navya’s CEO, Christophe Sapet. “As the greater Ann Arbor area continues to establish itself as a hub for autonomous vehicle development, we feel it’s the perfect location for us. Strong government and community support for mobility initiatives, combined with an excellent talent pool, provide the ideal environment for our expansion in North America.”

Paul Krutko, SPARK’s president and CEO, commented, “We’re excited to be part of Navya tapping in to the manufacturing and engineering capabilities here, as it moves forward in making some of the world’s first autonomous mass transit vehicles.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).