GM China Group is establishing a science laboratory in Shanghai that will focus on advanced-propulsion technology, battery cells, mega-city safety and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) avoidance technology.

It also will explore driverless vehicles and lightweight materials. Additionally, the science lab will carry out collaborative work with universities and government-run scientific institutions across China.

The Shanghai facility, to be located in the Jingiao district, will be the first major scientific research laboratory established in China by a global auto maker.

“The science lab will be located within the new General Motors International Operations and GM China campus that we are building – where our offices will be located next year,” a GM China spokesman tells Ward’s.

“(The lab) will be a separate building on the campus, and people will be able to start moving in by the end of 2010.”

John Du will lead the new laboratory and has several technicians and scientists reporting to him from different locations. When the facility is operational, it will be staffed with up to 100 scientists and utilize the latest advanced scientific equipment.

Du, who holds multiple degrees in electrical engineering, formerly served as general manager of the Intel China Research Center. He is a specialist in networking, communications and systems, including Internet multicast video-streaming technologies and HDTV development.

“Our vision for the China science lab is to be recognized as a world-class R&D organization that will help drive GM’s automotive business into the future,” says Alan Taub, General Motors Co. vice president-global research and development, who was in China for the announcement.

Says Kevin Wale, GM China president and managing director: “Through the China science lab, we will leverage the country’s outstanding research talent, together with GM’s extensive resources, to come up with new innovations for the benefit of vehicle users around the globe.”

At the news conference, GM China demonstrated next-generation ultra-compact V2V transponders used in avoidance systems and other applications. The transponders are portable, can be carried by pedestrians and cyclists and will be priced at about $100, the auto maker says.

The communication- and wireless-based transponders support automated safety features such as lane-change alert, blindspot detection, forward collision warning with automatic braking and intersection-collision warning. As the official sponsor of the Shanghai Expo 2010 World Expo, GM China and partner Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp. will display at the show advanced technologies that will apply in the year 2030, including GM’s V2V system.

“During Expo 2010, GM China and our partner SAIC will introduce our vision for the future of urban transportation,” Wale says. “We envision a future in which vehicle emissions, traffic congestion and accidents are all in the past, and…driving is more fun and exciting than ever before.”