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Lotus Engineering to design AVRC

NOVI, Michigan – AVRC and Lotus Engineering announced they have partnered to design the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC) automotive proving grounds in North Carolina.

Located on I-95 in Northampton County, AVRC will feature a high-speed track, ride and handling track, vehicle dynamics area(s), advanced emissions laboratory, hydrogen and alternative fuel refueling stations, client offices and workshop areas.

&uot;As the program develops, we will reach milestones along the way,&uot; Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown said. &uot;This is one of those milestone moments.

&uot;They are a world-class company that is well-respected in the automotive industry in the United States and abroad,&uot; he added. &uot;They bring incredible talent and capabilities to the project. There’s more to come in the not too distant future.&uot;

Lotus is equally pleased with the announcement.

&uot;As a leader in vehicle development, Lotus Engineering has the experience and knowledge to design a test facility with unique capabilities,&uot; said Don Graunstadt, CEO, Lotus Engineering Inc. &uot;We look forward to providing a resource to the industry that will assist in the further development and validation of advanced technologies.&uot;

The state of North Carolina has an impressive background in technology development through its strong education system and initiatives such as the Research Triangle Park near Raleigh. To further its commitment, the state has allocated funding for startup and development of the AVRC with additional funding from other institutions and the federal government.

&uot;North Carolina has long been recognized for leadership in information technology, pharmaceuticals, and medical research&uot; said Dick Dell, Executive Director of the AVRC, &uot;Supported by pre-eminent universities in North Carolina and in partnership with the automotive and transportation industry, we will build a world-class testing and development center.&uot;

The 630-acre facility will be independently operated with engineering support available on-site through Lotus Engineering. The first stage of the AVRC is expected to be operational and available to industry clients and partners in late 2006.

&uot;As energy issues continue to be a challenge in the U.S., advanced powertrain research and development are vital to the future of the automotive industry,&uot; said Graunstadt. &uot;Having a facility like AVRC to test technologies such as clean diesel, hydrogen and hybrid-electric systems in a year-round use environment will be crucial in overcoming these challenges.&uot;

The mission of AVRC is to provide a modern automotive testing facility for use in the design, development, testing and certification of conventional and advanced vehicle technologies, sub-systems and components. This facility will provide a safe, secure, and private environment while reducing the time and cost of product research and development.

Lotus Engineering is an internationally recognized automotive engineering consultant based in Hethel, Norfolk, UK. Its global facilities include those in Michigan, USA and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and offices in Germany and China. It provides comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world’s car manufacturers and tier one automotive supplies, from initial concept and project design through development to full production prototype build.

Wednesday afternoon First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) announced that $1.5 million in federal funds have been earmarked for the development of the center.

&uot;Good jobs are critically needed in eastern North Carolina,&uot; Butterfield said. &uot;And this exciting project has enormous potential for creating exceptional employment opportunities in the region.&uot;

The congressman explained the funding was earmarked for the planned independent, non-profit AVRC as part of the Energy and Water Development Appropriation for fiscal year 2006. The line-item is part of a Department of Energy account for advanced vehicle demonstration projects.