State of Ohio is developing a new test center for bus technology with a $26.5 million federal investment

Ohio State University will establish and operate a new test center to support the deployment of zero-emission and low-emission buses for public transit with support from a $26.5 million investment from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson met with US Senator Sherrod Brown, university leaders, faculty, students, and government and industry partners to make the announcement Friday at the Center for Automotive Research. Johnson and Brown toured the facility and discussed the future of transportation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

“I want to commend Sen. Brown’s unwavering leadership in securing this important investment,” Johnson said. “The transport sector is the biggest contributor to climate change and generates more greenhouse gas emissions than any other part of our economy. Encouraging the use of public transport can help reduce this impact, which is why it is so important that the bus fleet of the future is as clean and energy efficient as possible. This investment recognizes and supports the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research’s innovative research and testing work to maximize clean, safe and efficient mobility to further FTA’s mission.”

The financing of the investment was made possible by the supreme parties Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Actalso called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Brown helped draft and pass.

“The bipartisan Infrastructure Act is already providing Ohio communities with resources to improve transportation,” Brown said. “We have worked to ensure that the Infrastructure Act allows communities to upgrade their buses, and with our long history of Ohio’s auto industry leading the country and the world, our state is the obvious choice to lead this innovative research. I’m working to ensure Ohio gets its fair share — or more — of infrastructure investment, and this is a big step in that effort.”

The new agreement will support the construction and operation of the test center through fiscal year 2026. The funds will go towards establishing a dedicated research, development and testing laboratory at CAR’s facilities on the university’s west campus.

The new lab will include testing and validation equipment at the component and vehicle levels, with a focus on batteries and energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells, electric motors and power electronics. The test center will also leverage the university-affiliated Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) network of on-road test facilities, North America’s most advanced vehicle test facility, and its SMARTCenter, an advanced test track for vehicle automation testing and development. TRC brings a wide range of facilities and expertise to the program to accelerate the development and deployment of zero- and low-emission transit vehicle technologies.

Ohio State’s expertise in mobility research will help the transit industry design and deploy the cleanest, most energy-efficient buses and transit vehicles. The program will also help US transit operators select the best vehicles and technologies to meet their customers’ needs. The university test center will work with transit vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers, industry organizations and transit agencies. The resulting research is used by the public transport industry and the FTA.

“Investments in public transportation power American industry and its workforce, mitigate climate change and drive innovation,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “Thanks to President Biden and Chairman Brown, this partnership with Ohio State University combines the significant investment in low-emission transit vehicles made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act with the talent and expertise of the Center for Automotive Research. The transit sector continues to lead in advancing the climate, equity, innovation and workforce development goals prioritized by this government.”

Research and testing at the center is directed by a dedicated engineering staff and supported by the research faculty, senior research staff and skilled laboratory and testing technicians. All aspects of the programs will involve undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, the program will support CAR’s STEM education and K-12 engagement initiatives, including summer internships for high school students and a mobility research summer camp.

“This program will allow us to further expand our efforts to develop the electrified mobility workforce that our sector and our country need,” said Giorgio Rizzoni, Director of the Center for Automotive Research. “We are pleased to support the FTA in their goal of achieving zero emissions in the transit fleet.”

The Ohio State Bus Test Center is supported by funding secured by Brown to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission bus technology. Brown worked to establish the FTA’s testing program for bus components in the 2015 Transport Act and additional funding secured in annual grants.


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