Detroit to hold conference on plug-in electric vehicles

08:16, October 20, 2009      

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More than 600 people including entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders are arriving on Monday in the U.S. auto city of Detroit for a three-day conference dedicated to the making, marketing and deployment of plug-in electric vehicles in the United States.

The inaugural event, called "The Business of Plugging In," brings together leaders from the automotive and utility industries, as well as researchers, policymakers, venture capitalists and startup company executives to discuss how to bring this evolving technology to the mass market.

According to a Detroit News report, Gen. Wesley Clark, former supreme allied commander of NATO, is scheduled to give a keynote address on Wednesday and will speak about the importance of energy independence and a national strategy for electrifying transportation.

Anthony Earley, CEO of the Detroit-based DTE Energy Co, also is scheduled to speak, as well as Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and Michigan state Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Tuesday's opening session, "The Electrification of the Vehicle," will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities created by plug-in electric vehicles. Other panel discussions will cover a wide range of topics from battery technology and work force development to what utilities and governments need to do to prepare.

Britta Gross, director of global energy systems at General Motors Co. and a conference speaker, said Detroit is the ideal locale for the conference not only because of its ties with the automotive industry but also because of the recent influx of federal funding for new battery technology.

She added that the new technology is likely to breed new work for suppliers making battery parts, electric motors and high-power electronics.

GM is co-sponsoring the event with the University of Michigan and DTE Energy Co.

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