European automotive suppliers and vehicle manufacturers have united to submit a series of R&D priorities to the European Commission to shape the European Green Car Initiative (EGCI), announced by the EU. CLEPA (the European umbrella membership organization representing the interests of the global automotive supply industry) and EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D from the major European passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturers) jointly prepared the document.
The Green Car Initiative, a part of the European economic recovery plan, aims to allocate €5 billion (US$6.7 billion) through a Public Private Partnership to bolster innovation in the automotive sector and sustain its focus on environmental progress. The initiative complements the European Clean Transport Facility which, through the European Investment Bank, serves to provide more immediate financial relief to the sector.
The Green Car Initiative concentrates on long-term R&D, largely combining existing projects under a clear policy focus and underlining the importance of a joint approach between industries and policy makers. The CLEPA and EUCAR document is intended to harmonize the R&D directions and priorities of the auto industry, and then to communicate these to relevant authorities and bodies at national and EU level and to other key partners. The scope of the document is adapted and narrowed to the domain of the EGCI, and it does not claim to cover the broad spectrum of automotive and transport R&D.
The R&D domain in the document is structured into four major areas:
Mobility and Transport (deploying information and communication technologies (ICT) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) for traffic and transport management, involving vehicles as well as route planning).
Energy and Environment (exploring primary energy sources which are renewable, secure, sufficient and environmentally compatible; the electrification of vehicles and the road transport system as a whole; lightweight structures and new vehicle concepts for high energy-efficiency).
Safety (ensuring safety of new vehicle concepts and types; development of cooperative systems for efficiency and safety based on communication between vehicles and infrastructure).
Affordability and Competitiveness (achieving green objectives at an affordable level, taking into account the availability and use of raw and rare materials; (energy-) efficiency of production processes; handling of alternative materials; use of virtual tools).
All of these areas are equally important and none of them can be considered independent from the others, the organizations note.
Under the Energy and Environment category, CLEPA and EUCAR call for a major focus on the electrification of the vehicle, including work on hybrid, plug-in, electric drive, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles. Among the specified research needs in this particular area are:
Energy storage systems. Two major technology paths should be followed: Battery systems for vehicle applications based on further improvement of Lithium-ion-based battery cell chemistry and technology; and basic research on new open cell systems technology (post Lithium-ion battery cells) for highest energy density focussing on electrochemistry of battery cells and storage capacitors (packaging, crashworthiness, durability, reliability, adoption to different vehicle concepts) with an appropriate level of safety.
New vehicle concepts required for electric propulsion technologies, e.g. using in-wheel motors.
Solution for electric vehicle integration issues: Energy management based on models of the vehicle power architecture, thermal management for efficiency improvements and long lifetime of components and for energy efficiency of climate controls.
Functional architecture, position and standardization of interfaces for power and data, distributed x-by-wire systems and design rules for the plug-in electrified vehicle and its structural architecture matching new requirements and fail-safe aspects.
Key components for hybrid, electrical drive and fuel cell systems: Advanced electric motors, brakes, suspensions and recuperation technologies, improved power electronics (inverters, converters), mechanical or thermal energy recovery systems, components for the management of power flow, battery management systems (including development of load cycles for lifetime estimations, and operation strategies for combined storage), range extenders, and interfaces for power and data communication inside the vehicle.
Efficiency improvements of all auxiliaries and sub-systems which consume electrical energy in the vehicle including, for example, alternative solutions for heating and air-conditioning.
Energy charging systems: on-line information systems (geographical location of charging systems, availability of connectors for energy charging, price of energy, eventually battery swapping; automatic energy measuring and debiting systems, interoperability vehicle – charging systems (standardization, data/energy automatically exchanged) and bi-directional capabilities, risk analysis and R&D on the boundaries of different charging schemes.
Vehicle to/from driver information, support and command systems (vehicle status monitoring systems e.g. energy status, driver support and command systems for optimized energy use and recuperation, ADAS efficient driving e.g. for dynamic traffic and of route planning.
Testing and validation of plug-in and electric vehicles.
Secondary research on electro-magnetic compatibility, user acceptance, business models, standardization requiring demonstrations, validations and field tests.
The priorities in this area also include work on renewable/alternative fuels and related drivetrains. Research here is aiming at the diversification of energy sources and at finding the optimum combination of drive train and energy carrier, e.g. renewable materials, hydrogen, biomass-to-liquid and electricity. Identified R&D needs include:
Development of CO2-neutral fuels from renewable materials (biogas/biomethane, hydrotreated vegetable oil, biomass-to-liquid, bio-diesel, first and second generation ethanol, hydrogen, electricity, etc.) and strategies for their use (no adverse effects for food and feed production and markets).
Scenarios for alternative fuels and strategies for market introduction: alternative fuels versus conventional (balance, feedstock availability, conversion blending technologies), infrastructure, new biomass based compounds, oxygenated, etc.
Optimization of powertrains for alternative fuels: gasoline for alcohol fuels / blends, diesel for 2nd generation, CNG/biomethane.
Preparation of specifications of alternative fuels: impact on engine performance (degradation potentials), exhaust composition, future emissions.
Processes to convert a broad spectrum of primary energy carriers from several basic sources into a limited number of energy carriers suited for the transport system.
Assessment of climate and energy impact: Well-to-wheel analysis for various fuel options and drive trains, life-cycle assessment for finding the optimum combination of drivetrain and energy carrier, e.g. renewable materials, hydrogen, biomass-to-liquid and electricity, simulation packages for CO2 indicators of various types of commercial vehicles.
The document also identifies technological innovations of the internal combustion engine and exhaust systems as important short-term paths towards fuel savings. R&D needs seen in this area include further improvement of conventional powertrains; optimization of the overall system (“efficient engines - efficient fuels”); optimization of the vehicle regarding energy management, energy recuperation, light weight structures (high-strength steel, aluminium, plastics, compound materials); and alternative power for auxiliaries.
Automotive manufacturers and suppliers call on the EU to adopt these priorities and implement them as soon as possible. It is especially important they say, that the Commission ensures that further work on vehicle technologies is done in parallel to and in close cooperation with the development of a compatible infrastructure for energy sources and future fuels, as part of a comprehensive mobility strategy.
The European Green Car Initiative aims to sustain progress towards a breakthrough in the use of renewable and non-polluting sources of energy, road safety and traffic fluidity. The initiative covers passenger cars as well as trucks and buses and transport systems, intelligent infrastructure and the availability of a fuelling and/or charging infrastructure.
Funding will be spread over four years. €1 billion (from a total of €5 billion) will come from the existing EU 7th Framework Programme for R&D funding and includes €500 million to be financed by the industry. The remaining €4 billion will become available in EIB loans to individual projects from manufacturers and suppliers. These loans usually cover 50% of the total investment.