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GE tapped to help design electric car

Jun 24, 2008 - Larry Rulison - timesunion.com

NISKAYUNA -- General Electric Co. has been awarded part of a $30 million contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to help the auto industry develop a cost-effective and reliable plug-in hybrid electric car.

GE Global Research in Niskayuna will work with Chrysler on the project. The two companies together will be given up to $10 million over three years, and each will also contribute an equal amount of money to the project.

GE will work with the carmaker on developing a dual battery storage system capable of powering a vehicle for 40 miles without recharging. The Department of Energy wants such cars to be commercialized by 2016.

"In Chrysler, you have an experienced and storied carmaker that understands how to make quality, fuel-efficient vehicles," said GE Global Research spokesman Todd Alhart. "In GE, you have a company that understands how to control and manage electric power and all the moving parts, including batteries."

Alhart said that in the next few weeks, GE will submit a proposal to the department advancing GE's hybrid electric car research "so that the technology is reliable and affordable for consumers." The Department of Energy says 40 miles without recharging is important because that covers most daily round-trip commutes in the United States and 70 percent of the average daily travel.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. were also awarded a portion of the $30 million contract, roughly $10 million each.