A Chinese battery manufacturing company is opening a research and development center in Pittsfield Township that officials say will create 41 jobs and bring in $4.6 million in investment.
Camel Energy, Inc. chose 4355 Varsity Drive, about a mile from the Ann Arbor city border, as the future site of its North American R & D headquarters. The company is a subsidiary of Camel Group Battery Academy Co., LTD, and will focus on electric car battery production.
Phil Santer, senior vice president at Ann Arbor SPARK, said Camel Energy is looking to enter the market and take its battery technology to the next level.
“They want to have a place to be able to work on more advanced battery development for electric vehicles,” Santer said, calling it the company’s first “real move into the United States in a significant way.”
The company in part was attracted by the talent pool available in the region from universities like the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, as well as the proximity to some of its automotive clients, Santer said.
He also noted the opening of Toyota North America’s North America research and development center in York Township, which Santer said made Michigan seem like a great opportunity.
Camel Energy had also considered sites in Texas and California, according to a statement from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. It received a $300,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said in a statement that Camel Energy’s decision to establish its North America headquarters in Michigan is a sign of the state’s “business-friendly environment and talented workforce.”
“Camel Energy’s investment in the Ann Arbor area means good jobs for Michigan residents that could well have gone to other states,” Arwood said. “We welcome the company’s commitment to Michigan and becoming a key contributor to the state’s energy sector.”
Part of the search criteria for Camel Energy’s new headquarters included lab and equipment space, and township ordinances for manufacturing sites. Rubicon Genomics moved out of the building at 4355 Varsity in 2014.
Zubo Shang, president of Camel Energy, said the company is excited to open to its North American headquarters in the Ann Arbor region.
“As a global leader in the design and development of battery technology for application in the automotive industry, Camel Energy hopes to continue its pursuit of new and innovative technologies from its North American R&D center,” Zhang said in a statement.
Santer said he is not aware of the timeline to get the headquarters up and running, but Ann Arbor SPARK is taking steps to assist the company with hiring.
“The role we want to make sure we play for them going forward is connecting them to the talent in the region,” Santer said.
That includes recent college graduates, along with more experienced tech hires, and working with company officials to introduce them to the Ann Arbor and southeast Michigan business industry.
The 41 jobs Camel Energy is looking to fill include technical jobs, clerical and sales, service and managerial positions, Santer said. At least 25 of the jobs are in the technical category, manufacturing and designing battery components.
Camel Energy manufactures batteries for automobiles, agriculture vehicles and vessels and other similar applications.
In November, Gov. Rick Snyder announced Chinese company SF Motors Inc. was bringing 150 jobs and $10.7 million in investments to Pittsfield Township. The electric vehicle manufacturer received $1 million performance-based grant through the MEDC.