The Chesapeake Consortium -- a business group made up of the local Westinghouse unit, Chrysler Corp., Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and the state of Maryland -- has been selected to receive a $4 million federal grant for continued work on the development of an electric vehicle.
The funding from the U.S. Transportation Department was part of a $10.3 million grant approved yesterday for distribution to three consortia. A business group in California is in line for $4 million; the remaining $2.3 million is earmarked for a New York group.
"The three consortia selected for these grants will explore the use of new electric technologies for mass transit," Transportation Secretary Andrew H. Card Jr. said in announcing the selections.
"Their research will greatly expand our knowledge of such systems as electric bus and van design, hybrid electric buses, and recharging stations."
In the case of the Chesapeake Consortium, the money will be used to demonstrate and evaluate electric vehicles with an advanced power train and to develop plans to manufacture electric vehicles.
The Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum revealed in March that it had teamed with Chrysler to develop an electric vehicle. At that time, it demonstrated a Chrysler van powered by a Westinghouse electric motor.
The two companies talked about a combined capital investment of $10 million to build a pollution-free vehicle that could zip along a highway at speeds of up to 75 mph, with a range of 200 miles between battery charges.
BG&E and the state of Maryland became involved in the project in June, when the consortium was formed. Among other things, the utility would help develop the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles, including the design of battery-charging stations.
Maryland has agreed to add $1 million to be used by Maryland companies for training that would prepare them to supply Westinghouse and Chrysler with parts in the production of electric vehicles.