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Posted on Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

University of Michigan chosen to lead joint electric vehicle project between U.S., China

By Nathan Bomey

The University of Michigan will lead a research consortium between the U.S. and China to develop new electric vehicle technologies, the U.S. Department of Energy and U-M announced.

U-M was selected to lead the electric vehicles project for the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which President Barack Obama's administration established in summer 2009.

U-M will receive $12.5 million over five years to lead the consortium, which includes Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, A123Systems and other partners.

Charging station.JPG

Electric vehicles, which require charging stations like this one shown at the 2010 Detroit auto show, are the subject of a joint U.S.-China research project to be led by the University of Michigan.

Nathan Bomey |

The American and Chinese governments are evenly splitting the cost of the governmental portion of the project. The industry and university partners will match the government funding for a total of $25 million.

China will soon announce what universities will participate in the joint research project.

U-M had publicly lobbied to play a leadership role in the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center after forming its own engineering research relationship with Shanghai Jiao Tong University earlier this year. U-M announced the SJTU research partnership during U-M President Mary Sue Coleman's visit to China in June.

The Department of Energy also said that it would distribute $12.5 million for a clean coal project led by West Virginia University. The department also plans to give $12.5 million this fall to a consortium pursuing energy-efficient building technologies.

"The U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center will help accelerate the development and deployment of clean vehicle and clean coal technologies here at home," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. "This new partnership will also create new export opportunities for American companies, ensure the United States remains at the forefront of technology innovation, and help to reduce global carbon pollution."

U-M's consortium will be called the Clean Energy Research Center on Clean Vehicles.

"This unprecedented public-private partnership across international boundaries is a model for how to tackle the grand energy challenges we are facing on a global scale," Dennis Assanis, director of U-M's Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, said in a statement. "We have been inspired by the promise this powerful partnership holds and proud of the unique strength of the University of Michigan, a strength based on collaboration and a sweeping base of world-class expertise across disciplines."

U-M is considered a national leader in alternative propulsion technology. The university's energy systems engineering master's engineering program is one of the few clean energy vehicle engineering programs in the country.

University researchers already coordinate energy research projects with industry partners such as GM and Ford. U-M's spinoff companies include an Ann Arbor-based battery startup called Sakti3, which is developing next-generation lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Experts say the auto industry must drive down the cost of electric vehicles by reducing the size and increasing the reliability of lithium batteries.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sun, Sep 5, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

I agree with trespass. Perhaps the can request a response from the University of Michigan which addresses the issues identified in his/her comment.


Sat, Sep 4, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

This is such a bad idea.


Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 11:50 p.m.

What morons, fools and #!%@#! "When we started this systems analysis business, we stepped through the looking glass where people did the weirdest things and (used) the most perverse kind of logic imaginable and yet claimed to have the most precise understanding of everything." Sam Cohen Say it again, Sam.


Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 8:23 p.m.

Beware, the Dept. of Defense and a Congressional committee have issued reports that China is stealing huge amounts of American industrial and military technology. It was also a big story on 60 Minutes. Chinese nationals were just arrested by the FBI for stealing hybrid car technology from GM. "Two Charged in Conspiracy to Steal GM Trade Secrets" The University of Michigan has been a major source of technology transfer to China. A UM engineering professor was asked to meet with a delegation of Chinese engineers from their premier military academy. The Chinese engineers asked many very specific questions about the design of Trident Nuclear Missles. The professor complained to his Chinese Dept. Head and was punished for complaining. That same Chair of Aerospace Engineering recently returned to China with 30 years of knowlege about American aerospace technology. UM visiting scientist & students have returned to China with advanced nose cone technology, anti-satellite technology, B-1 bomber technology, etc, etc. The Google hackers were traced by to computers at our Chinese sister University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The newest joint research agreements with Shanghai Jiao Tong University allow UM inventions to be commercialized by Chinese companies that will compete with American companies. Congressional hearing found that two American companies, Loral Space and Communications and Hughes Electronics, helped China fix it's ballistic missles. They were convicted of violating US export laws and fined $14 million and $32 million, respectively. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Loral is the brother-in-law of UM Regent Andrea Fischer Newman. When UM President Mary Sue Coleman was asked to meet with a delegation from the FBI to brief her about security concerns regarding Chinese students & visiting scientists, she refused to meet with them. This latest joint electric vehicle project is another opportunity to transfer important technology to China. When will America and UM learn to protect our industrial and military technologies.

Nathan Bomey

Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 6:33 p.m.

Susan, thanks for catching that! You're absolutely right. I just fixed it. Meanwhile, here's a recent story I wrote about lithium ion battery costs.

Susan Montgomery

Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 6:17 p.m.

Ahem- "Experts say the auto industry must drive down the cost of electric vehicles by reducing the size and reliability of lithium batteries" I assume you mean "and INCREASING the reliability..."?

Fri, Sep 3, 2010 : 5:56 p.m.

Congrats to U of M! Let's hope to be a leader in clean energy.