Motor Company (NYSE:F) has teamed up with the University of Michigan to open a new lab for research and manufacturing of electric batteries. They’re hoping that the new facility will help speed up battery development for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Alan Mulally ford

Researchers test electric batteries

The lab is located in Ann Arbor on the university’s campus there. Battery makers, researchers and automakers will be there testing new batteries for their prototype vehicles. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) battery research manager Ted Miller told the Associated Press (via the Boston Herald) that the lab is unlike any other facility in the U.S. He said currently other U.S. labs are testing chemicals for batteries are unable to product them in large enough amounts or in the formats which are needed for research for the automotive industry.

Ford and others already have labs for test

According to miller, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and other major U.S. automakers already have their own labs for testing the quality and durability of electric batteries. However, he says those tests are happening extremely late in the development process of the batteries. This new lab will provide automakers with the opportunity to provide input earlier in the development process.

Automakers working together

Miller says automakers want to push toward offering more electric and hybrid vehicles even though they aren’t good sellers right now. EVs make up less than 1 percent of auto sales in the U.S., while hybrid vehicles make up less than 3 percent. However, part of the problem is believed to be high battery costs, and there’s hope that this new lab will enable automakers to work together to solve that problem.

The new facility is expected to start building new batteries next year. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) contributed $2.1 million to the building of the lab, while the University of Michigan contributed $900,000. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. also provided a $5 million grant. According to Miller, other automakers have asked for permission to do research there.

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