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June 15, 2008

UMTRI to participate in $30-million PHEV grant

UMTRI will participate in a U.S. Department of Energy grant to study plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The project will test PHEV fleets and improve battery technologies.

The $30-million DOE grant consists of three projects awarded to General Motors (teamed with UMTRI), Ford, and General Electric. Over three years, the partners will test PHEV fleets and improve mass production of PHEV battery technologies. Each project will employ up to 80 vehicles, each with an all electric range (AER) of a minimum of 10 miles. The project is broken into three 12-month cycles, where vehicles introduced in each cycle will be comprised of more advanced PHEV technology than those in the previous cycle. The long-range goal for AER is 40 miles.

General Motors is working with UMTRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to enhance lithium-ion battery packs, charging systems, powertrain development, and vehicle integration. GM will deploy a plug-in test fleet as part of the project. Following development, the PHEVs will be deployed over a three-year period into a demonstration fleet in three regions of the U.S.

UMTRI's primary role for this project is to conduct consumer behavior surveys associated with the project as applied to participating vehicle operators. Along with routine background surveys on driver gender, profession, income level, education level, driving patterns, etc., survey work will also be devoted to pre- and post-participation surveys regarding expectations and experience. There is particular interest in perceptions of vehicle performance, charging frequency and state of charge upon charging initiation, fuel stations stops, mileage, cost savings, and other metrics. The project will start in early 2009.

Ford is working with Southern California Edison and Johnson Controls-Saft in a project to identify a pathway that accelerates mass production of PHEVs.

General Electric is working with Chrysler to build plug-in vehicles that contain an innovative dual-battery energy storage system capable of 40 miles accumulated electric driving range.

For more information, read the DOE press release.

For details on another PHEV grant that UMTRI won through DTE Energy, click here.