University of Michigan launching Electric Vehicle Center as state ramps up EV production

Electric Vehicles
Posted at 4:40 PM, May 01, 2023

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan is launching an Electric Vehicle Center with help from the state.

The center is a part of the state’s effort to ramp up electric vehicle production and cultivate a robust EV ecosystem.

Alan Taub, who is the director of the new EV Center at the University of Michigan, says the Center will have three focus areas including researching and developing innovative EV technology like batteries, educating a highly skilled workforce and building advanced campus infrastructure.

State Legislators have approved $130 million in the 2023 budget for the project. Around $20 million will be used to train the next generation of autoworkers. Another $50 million will be used to support research to develop more efficient tech.

“We’re at the start of a transformation of the industry, a re-training of the workforce and a reinvention of personal mobility,” said Taub.

Taub says the university has been working for the last seven years to create more efficient batteries in their battery lab on North Campus. Taub says the lab is essentially the predecessor for the new EV Center.

“Basically, what it’s doing is taking a special paint that holds the energy inside of the battery and applying it to a very very thin aluminum foil. So, we can take the energy in and out of the battery in a controlled way,” said Technical Director Greg Less as he walked 7 Action News Crews through the battery lab.

Less says the lab is 98% used by companies. He says companies bring cutting edge materials to the battery lab as they work to innovate more efficient EV batteries. Technicians say the goal is to make a battery that lasts longer, charges faster and costs less.

“A lot of our users are either from the auto industry or are interested in supplying for the auto industry and they’re coming here to look at those next generation materials that will be in future electric vehicles,” said Less.

The university says it will take time to get the center up and running but they’re hoping to see benefits on the roads in years to come.

“The focus of this new funding is to build on what we have, make it more robust and make sure Michigan leads in the transformation from internal combustion engine to a battery electric vehicle,” said Taub.

Taub says he is now working to establish an industry advisory board to identify needs and set the center's initial workforce development strategies and development goals.