Ford Motor Co. and the University of Michigan will announce today that they are opening a new $8 million battery research and manufacturing lab.  

The pair hope this will speed the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars. 

The center, on the university's campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles. 

Ted Miller, who manages battery research at Ford, says the lab will be unique in the U.S. Labs currently testing new battery chemistries can't produce them in the amounts or formats needed for automotive research, and automakers' labs test very late in the process. 

Expensive batteries have weighed on electric car sales, but battery costs are expected to fall as new materials are discovered and production increases.

The new lab could accelerate that.