Peter Lillo and Philipp Schiffmann, ME PhD Students and researchers in Volker Sick's research group, examine an engine system in the Walter E. Lay Auto Laboratory on May 22, 2014. (photos: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing)
Dr. Banner Bombards His Body With Gamma Radiation (...or a student examines an engine system) - Photo: Joseph Xu

A long running relationship between General Motors and the University of Michigan on automotive research was extended this week through 2017.

The program based out of the Collaborative Research Laboratories (CRL) at the University of Michigan was launched in 1998 and has actually yielded some valuable results.

In 2011, a unique process to ultrasonically weld battery tabs together "played a role in enabling the Chevrolet Volt team to offer an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery system." 

Editor's Note:  We imagine a legislative mandate for PHEVs rated AT PZEV in California to have a warranty of at least 10 years/150 miles in CARB states also had a little something to do with it as well.

GM released a statement on the collaboration:

The new Automotive CRL creates an organizational umbrella structure and initially will focus on research into engine systems and advanced manufacturing. In addition, GM and the University of Michigan have an existing, separate CRL that concentrates on smart material developments.

U of M Students Are Often Forced To Work In The Dark (photo: Joseph Xu)

The programs will fund four fellowships for graduate students and provide support for postdoctoral scholars, research scientists and faculty. The chosen recipients will carry out research on real-world problems that affect GM while enhancing their academic experience at the University of Michigan.

“We are excited to continue what is a more than 50-year relationship with General Motors,” said David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. “We believe our graduate students and faculty can operate as an extension of General Motors’ global research and development activities, which we are confident will enhance GM while providing exceptional experiences for our students.”  

In the Automotive CRL’s engine systems research lab, students will use state-of-the-art laser imaging diagnostics and conduct engine simulation studies to make the most of future, highly efficient engines with ultra-low emissions.

The Automotive CRL’s advanced manufacturing lab will focus materials joining technologies, assembly systems and simulations to enhance plant floor quality, efficiency and responsiveness.

In the smart materials lab, researchers apply technologies to reduce vehicle mass, add functionality, increase design flexibility and decrease component size and cost.

“GM’s relationship with the University of Michigan over the years has provided benefits to the company because these young minds, who bring a fresh perspective, carry out research on real-world issues that impact GM’s vehicle innovation, design and manufacturing operations,” said Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures. “We expect more great things to come from our work with the University of Michigan.”

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