Michigan beats Ohio, Indiana for EV battery lab
HomeHome > Blog > Michigan beats Ohio, Indiana for EV battery lab

Michigan beats Ohio, Indiana for EV battery lab

Jul 24, 2023

A gravel lot in Auburn Hills is slated to be transformed over the next year into a laboratory that will serve a growing need as the automotive industry transitions toward electric vehicles.

UL Solutions, a division of Underwriters Laboratories, a company well-known for its testing and certification work, plans to build an 89,000-square-foot laboratory on the spot that will serve as a test site for manufacturers to test EV and industrial batteries.

On Monday, company officials hosted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan; U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Birmingham, and other state and local officials for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site near Dutton and Bald Mountain roads.

More:Vehicle cybersecurity gets boost from Defense Department

Michigan beat out Ohio and Indiana for the $72.7 million project, according to paperwork from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The project is slated to receive about $1.6 million in incentives based on meeting certain benchmarks, including the creation of 61 qualified new jobs.

The other states made "very competitive incentive offers," according to the documents. Whitmer, however, noted other key factors.

"Michigan won this investment over several other states because of our strong workforce and our proximity to leading battery and automotive manufacturers," Whitmer said.

Milan Dotlich, vice president and general manager for energy and industrial automation for UL solutions, told the Free Press ahead of the event that demand for UL's battery testing services has grown dramatically.

"While I probably could fill this battery lab with industrial batteries only, we wanted to be near the automotive epicenter of the world, Detroit," Dotlich said, noting that he hopes to see testing under way at the site by July 2024.

More:Michigan EV Scholars program gives college students $10,000 scholarships: What's required

With the many stories in the news about battery fire worries, including recently with electric bikes, it's perhaps no surprise that battery testing would be a key demand area for automakers and their suppliers as well as other industries.

One of the issues, Dotlich said, is that many batteries haven't been tested properly, with people "hoping for the best," which he said isn't the best policy.

Dotlich noted that UL has "an unparalleled history of fire testing for batteries."

The Northbrook, Illinois, company dates itself to the 1890s, and its UL symbol is well-known around the world. Whitmer, during the ceremony, said that "in the average American house, there are at least 100 different products with a UL mark, meaning they’ve been tested by UL Solutions."

Testing that will take place at the Auburn Hills site will include simulating crashes and even hitting batteries with flaming embers, "things that help first responders and other regulators make good decisions about how to apply the technology in the field," Dotlich said.

Jennifer Scanlon, president and CEO of UL Solutions, said during the groundbreaking ceremony that "when this lab opens next year, it will be one of North America's most extensive testing for batteries as well as most extensive engineering laboratories."

More:Buttigieg, Whitmer pitch EV corridor with Canada

Scanlon said the lab would be staffed by "expert battery engineers and laboratory technicians and they will be testing electric vehicle and industrial products for compliance with safety and performance requirements not just here in the United States, but compliance around the world will be tested right here."

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter noted the significance of securing EV battery-related facilities in an area with ties to some of the biggest names in automotive history.

"We’re not too far away from an economy that's going to be dominated by battery electric vehicles, and it's exciting that Michigan and Oakland County have really become prime locations for the companies that are leading the way in this field," Coulter said, calling it proof that Michigan is no longer the Rust Belt.

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: [email protected]. Become a subscriber.

More: More: More: