EU Research and Innovation Intensify Efforts Towards Electro-mobility

By Frédéric Sgarbi, Directorate-General for Research, Head of Automotive Innovative Systems, European Commission
Autumn 2012

The European Green Cars Initiative (EGCI) is a research and innovation measure which was included in the European Economy Recovery Plan adopted in November 2008.

Along with two additional research and innovation measures, the EGCI is a so-called Public Private Partnership (PPP) with a total budget amounting to €1 billion to develop new technologies for the greening of road transportation. It includes all kinds of vehicles: two wheelers, passenger cars, bearers, vans and trucks for long distance haulage.

The main target retained for the EGCI has been to contribute to improving the energy efficiency of road transport operation with a double effect on decreasing CO2 emissions and therefore mitigating global warming on the one hand and securing energy availability through rationalisation and diversification of energy sources.

Although three major research pillars were identified, 1) long distance road haulage representing 50% CO2 emissions in road transport, 2) electrification of road and surface transport and 3) logistics and co-modality, electrification represents 50% of research efforts within the PPP.

It is essential Europe to be ready to deliver attractive and affordable e-mobility products that can withstand international competition when massive introduction of electric cars will starts probably in 2020 onwards. In the meantime, community research will support European manufacturers to develop electric cars and remain at the leadership of the technology as they do for road transport vehicles based on internal Combustion Engines.

Since the EGCI was launched in year 2008, already more than 70 research projects amounting €350 million are under way in areas such as electric batteries, electric and electronic components, electric engines, safety aspects, new vehicle architecture for electric cars, charging points and vehicle to grid interfaces.

The EGCI has set up a steering committee called the "EGCI ad-hoc Industrial Advisory Group" to define and prioritise technological research topics that are included in the 7th Framework Programme annual calls. This group is composed of representatives of major European industries (Volkswagen, Renault, Volvo, Siemens, Bosch, Valeo, etc.). Industries have developed several road-maps for research and innovation, in particular a multi-annual road map and a long-term strategy for road and urban transport electrification.

The electrification roadmap foresees mass production of electric cars in 2018-20. For passenger cars two technology paths are considered which can be expected to develop at comparable pace.

On the one hand, the plug-in hybrid car providing 50km pure electric range, having an energy consumption of about 120-100 Wh/km as well as same comfort and same safety as a conventional car. Studies indicate that customer acceptance can be expected to develop within the next years towards the acceptance of a price of an additional 2000 Euros per unit.

On the other hand, the electric car providing 200km pure electric range, seating four passengers, having an energy consumption of 120-100 Wh/km, smart (and on the long run: V2G) charging capabilities, same comfort and same safety. The total cost of ownership will be comparable to the ICE vehicle although the initial cost may still be around €5000 higher, due to the lower cost of maintenance and fuel prices.

Towards 2025 a major innovative step is expected to deliver a profound change in the architecture of the electric vehicle. Hence, the future electric vehicle will move away from the base scenarios defined above and pave the way for an advanced type of electric vehicle based on a novel platform facilitating lower consumption and thus providing a higher range. Modularity may even allow a convergence of full electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid.

At the moment road transport industries together with the Commission Services are reflecting on a successor of the EGCI for Horizon 2020. Industries have developed a concept paper and views from stakeholders were gathered through a stakeholders' consultation that ended in September 2012. There is consensus among stakeholders that the new PPP should be called the "European Green Vehicles Initiative" in order to broaden its scope to all types of road transport vehicles (passenger cars, trucks, vans, buses, two-wheelers and light urban vehicles). The main objective will still be energy efficiency and use on renewable fuels with a strong emphasis on electro-mobility.