Ford battery lab provides production stepping stone
The facility is the result of a collaboration between Ford, the university and the state and federal governments, with support from suppliers, and is aimed at accelerating the development of smaller, lighter, cheaper batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, which also offer a longer range.
It will allow Ford to work with battery manufacturers, suppliers, university researchers and startup companies to test new technology on a small scale before putting it into production. The company said the advance from lead-acid to nickel-metal-hydride and now lithium-ion batteries within the last 15 years showed that it was too early to commit to one type of battery.
Ted Miller, who manages battery research for Ford, said: ‘We have battery labs that test and validate production-ready batteries, but that is too late in the development process for us to get our first look.
‘This lab will give us a stepping-stone between the research lab and the production environment, and a chance to have input much earlier in the development process. This is sorely needed, and no one else in the auto industry has anything like it.’
Miller said it was also important for the state of Michigan: ‘Previous investments have been focused on battery production, and now our state becomes a research core for batteries,’ he commented.
‘The University of Michigan benefits, because the best and brightest from car companies, suppliers and academia will come here. In turn, that will attract the best students. We need to nurture the next generation of battery scientists, and it helps Ford that the campus is less than 40 miles from Dearborn.’