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Daimler sparks e-drive research project

Engineers and academics to accelerate electric tech evolution?

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'Leccy Tech Daimler AG – that's Mercedes, to the rest of us – has announced the establishment of an electric drive research programme with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Due to be called the E-drive Project House, the tie up between the German car maker and the University will focus on all key elements of electric car technology, including drive systems, motors, energy storage and control software.

The hope is that the combination of the serious sleeves-rolled-up engineer types from Daimler and the long-haired beardies of academe will result in some valuable breakthroughs. How much cash will fund their endeavours was not disclosed.

Dr Thomas Weber, Daimler's R&D chief and the man in charge of Mercedes-Benz car development, said: "It is our declared aim to secure a leading role in the field of alternative drive systems. The electrification of the automobile is playing a key role in this endeavour."

Mercedes already plans to release the world's first lithium-ion battery equipped hybrid, the S400, in 2009. Back in June, Weber told the German news weekly Wirtschafts Woche that Daimler plans to introduce pure electric versions of the Mercedes-Benz A- and B-class models, though he didn't say when.

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