General Motors, University of Michigan collaborations continue to grow
A little over a year ago General Motors and the University of Michigan announced the formation of the Institute of Automotive Research and Education with nothing less than the goal of “reinventing the automobile.” With initial research in battery technology, engine systems, smart materials and advanced manufacturing techniques, the intent was to find a route to greater fuel economy and the electrification of the car.
One year into this extensive collaboration, I had the chance to attend one of the regular review meetings where Institute progress is tracked. Building upon the four initial focus areas, GM and U-M have begun developing opportunities for additional research work in safety, alternative energy and infotainment.
Education is also a priority. U-M students are graduating with enhanced exposure to advanced automotive concepts, and GM engineers and scientists are able to build new skills in emerging technologies that will transform the way automobiles are designed and built. A prime example is the Energy Systems Engineering master’s degree program developed at U-M with input from General Motors.
A highlight of the recent Institute meeting at GM’s Milford Proving Ground was an opportunity to drive the new Chevy Volt. The propulsion for this “Extended Range Electric Vehicle” (EREV) comes exclusively from an onboard electric motor. Lithium-ion batteries store electrical charge that will take the vehicle 40 miles (a distance capable of satisfying the daily commute of 75 percent of Americans). A small 4-cylinder internal combustion engine powers a generator that extends the Volt’s range to more than 300 miles.
This past March the first factory-built Volt was produced at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant, but this revolutionary 4-door hatchback won’t be available to the public until later this year. Based upon my test-drive, I’m anticipating an exciting debut.
University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center. He can be reached at email@example.com.