Assembly gives electric car a $500,000 push

April 20, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Maryland's role in the development of an electric car received a push from the General Assembly's approval of $1.25 million in funding to help state defense contractors convert to commercial markets.

In addition to pumping $500,000 into a program to develop an electric car, the state budget includes $500,000 for the development of a computerized police car and $250,000 to help leverage federal money used to assist defense contractors in converting to commercial markets.

The $250,000 was only a fourth of the $1 million requested by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to help defense contractors cope with a sharply declining military budget.

Page W. Boinest, a spokeswoman for the governor, said $471 million in federal defense conversion money is available to states "and we will be aggressive in getting our share, or more."

The electric car funds go to the Chesapeake Consortium, a group made up of Westinghouse, Chrysler Corp., Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and the state of Maryland.

Marilyn Corbett, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic and Employment Development, said the funding was the second installment of $1 million the governor requested to help small companies "retool and gear up to meet the needs of Westinghouse to produce an electric car."

Ms. Corbett explained that the state wanted to position Maryland companies to serve as Westinghouse subcontractors in supplying components for the vehicle.

Last year, the consortium was awarded a $4 million federal grant from the Department of Transportation for continued work on development of an electric vehicle. Westinghouse is developing the propulsion system for a Chrysler vehicle.

Westinghouse also stands to benefit from a $500,000 grant to fund a pilot project being conducted by the company and the state police for the development of police car computerized communication equipment.

The new equipment would allow officers on patrol to tap immediately into state and federal crime data banks and obtain information on a suspected criminal or stolen car.

The equipment is to be installed on 10 patrol cars assigned to the state police's Waterloo barracks.

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