Through some recent inquiries at the US Department of Energy, it was revealed that ZMC America, a subsidiary of Zenn Motor Company, has applied for multi-million dollar funding to construct a "world-class electric drive automotive research and development facility" at one of 3 sites in Southeastern Michigan. In a proposal submitted in June 2009, ZMC says it would match federal funds with additional funding from other sources to build the center.
The proposal was submitted to the DOE by Michigan Congressman Mark Schauer. In his accompanying June 29, 2009 letter to the DOE, Schauer indicates that he discussed this unsolicited proposal with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu during a June 22, 2009 event held in Battle Creek, MI. See video. Schauer's support for the plan highlights the 100 initial jobs that such a center would create for his district. The economic downturn has caused Michigan to experience the highest unemployment rate in the United States.
In a phone interview yesterday, Rep. Schauer's spokesperson, Lisa Dedden Cooper indicated Rep. Schauer's office inquired with DOE this week as to the current status of the proposal review. Indications were that a response from DOE may occur later this month pending full review.
According to the DOE proposal, support for the effort includes:
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Congressman Mike Rogers
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm
Michigan Lieutenant. Governor John Cherry
United Auto Works VP Duane Zuckschwerdt
Kathleen Long, a press agent for Senator Carl Levin, issued this statement:
Senator Levin has met with ZENN Motor Company and was interested to learn about the electric vehicle technology they are working on. Many Michigan companies have been actively engaged in developing advanced electric vehicle and battery technology and Senator Levin is hopeful that they and others will take advantage of federal funding opportunities and take steps to locate electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facilities in Michigan.
A prior May 13, 2009 letter to DOE Secretary Chu was co-authored by Michigan State Senators Elizabeth S. Brater and Mickey Switalski. In their letter, they provide support for the effort contingent upon "independent third party certification" of the technology.
DOE officials did not yet respond to further queries logged with them late in the day yesterday.
Over the next few days, I hope to add more comments from various individuals and organizations concerning this new ZENN-related information.
Congressman Schauer's letter of support can be downloaded from here.
When asked for comment on the proposal. Zmc's Ian Clifford said, "the
state of Michigan holds great strategic potential for our plans to
accelerate adoption of ZMC solutions. We have appreciated their
leadership and look forward to further dialogue with the DOE on this