$8 million electric-car battery lab project joined by Ford image

The University of Michigan has set up an $8-million battery lab that is set to develop cheaper and more efficient batteries that should turn electrified cars into more affordable vehicles.

Ford is currently the only automaker that has entered a partnership with the lab that is based at the U-M Energy Institute. As the lab should complete equipped purchases and be up and running in the same period of next year, it will be used for prototyping, testing and analyzing batteries and the materials that go into building them.

Ford has brought in $2.1 million of the total sum, next to the $5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and around $900,000 from the U-M College of Engineering.

“There is nothing like it in the industry,” said Anand Sankaran, Ford chief engineer for energy storage and hybrid systems. Ted Miller, who manages Ford’s battery research, said the automaker has battery labs that test and validate production-ready batteries, “but nothing this far upstream. This is sorely needed.”

“This kind of collaboration is essential to addressing complex challenges like sustainable energy and efficient transportation,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.

Ford engineers also have the opportunity to further learn how to manufacture and test smaller battery cells, in addition to working closer to suppliers to jointly examine new technology and study material degradation over time.