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Oak Ridge to lead auto supplier R&D partnership

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 17, 2008 -- Oak Ridge National Laboratory will lead research and development work for the automotive supplier industry initiated through the U.S. Automotive Partnership for Advancing Research and Technologies, or USAutoPARTs collaborative announced today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Made up of a consortium of federal and private partners, USAutoPARTs, will perform pre-competitive research targeted at priorities established by the automotive supplier industry. Initial research will focus on advanced materials; electronics and hybrid technologies; and fuels, engine, and emission control technologies.

Signing a memorandum of intent to participate in the alliance were Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Department of Energy Under Secretary Clarence H. Albright Jr. and Neil De Koker, president and CEO of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association or OESA.

Michigan suppliers will be at the center of this partnership to develop advanced automotive and alternative energy technologies, said Gov. Granholm. As this center evolves, we are determined to see that their cutting edge research results in innovative products designed and produced right here in Michigan.

Through the initiative, suppliers will be able to utilize the expertise of the national laboratory system, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory serving as lead lab for the project, to aid them in research for Americas next generation of automotive components and systems and helping solve todays manufacturing problems. The labs plan to perform advanced research and provide technical assistance valued at up to $9 million beginning in 2008. Suppliers and others may choose to participate in one or more of the current research focus areas or those that will be selected in the future. Participants are required to make a financial contribution to the research, which can include loaned personnel and in-kind contributions.

The areas on which USAutoPARTs will initially focus are aligned with the Vehicle Technologies Program of DOEs Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Similar support is planned by the U.S. Department of Defense and anticipated from other Federal Agencies as the partnership develops.

Coming on the heels of the President signing new energy legislation last month, this alliance with state government and industry demonstrates a shared commitment to advance highly efficient vehicle technologies that will help reduce our reliance on foreign energy and promote robust economic growth, DOE Under Secretary Albright said. Furthering the Administrations comprehensive effort to increase energy security, we are eager for this alliance to take shape so cleaner, more efficient vehicles can successfully move from the laboratory to the showroom.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the leading national laboratory for the Vehicle Technologies Program of DOEs Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and is home to the National Transportation Research Center as well as the High Temperature Materials Laboratory and other research facilities where researchers address issues of energy efficiency, air quality and dependence on foreign oil through innovations in engine control strategies, advanced emissions control and measurement, materials, fuels, power electronics, and electric machines.

ORNL is uniquely suited to addressing the needs of American automotive suppliers, said Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We have a broad portfolio of transportation research and expertise in all aspects of the business, from lightweight components made of carbon fiber to electric motors. This partnership will support DOEs mission and help insure Americas future in the automotive business.

USAutoPARTs will be located in Shelby Township, Mich., in a 56,000 square foot vehicle R&D center with established laboratory infrastructure that will support up to 175 people. Delphi Corporation is vacating this facility under its corporate restructuring program.

An organizing board has been formed to govern USAutoPARTs and its research mission. Those participating include: Automation Alley, the Center for Automotive Research, Delphi Corporation, McLaren Performance Technologies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Original Equipment Suppliers Association, U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research and Development and Engineering Center, Visteon Corporation, and Wayne State University.


Contact: Larisa Brass
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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