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JRC assesses EU RD&D investments in electric-drive vehicles; controls and energy storage top the list

Distribution of total investments and public co-funding in publicly co-funded R&D projects. Controls and energy storage top the list. Source: JRC. Click to enlarge.

A report from the JRC on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects on electric drive vehicles (not including fuel cell vehicles) in the EU finds that increased exchange of information and more coordination between projects would result in a better leverage of the investments—at this point, some €1.9 billion (US$2.5 billion), 65% from public funding. The JRC (Joint Research Centre) is the European Commission’s (EC’s) in-house science service.

The report is the third in a series that deals with aspects of electromobility in Europe. Its goal was to collect the information on all on-going or recently concluded RD&D projects on electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which received EU or national public funding with a budget of more than €1 million (US$1.3 million), in order to assess which of the electric drive vehicles (EDV) challenges are addressed by these projects and to identify potential gaps in the RD&D landscape in Europe.

Total investments in R&D projects in Member States per vehicle component. Source: JRC. Click to enlarge.

The report “Paving the way to electrified road transport – Publicly funded research, development, and demonstration projects on electric and plug-in cars in Europe”, lists more than 320 projects covering the period 2007-2015. The collected data allowed also the development of an interactive e-mobility visualization tool, called EV-Radar, which portrays in an interactive way RD&D efforts for EDVs in Europe.

The study found that the majority of ongoing or recently concluded R&D projects are co-funded by, in rank order, Germany (38.5%), the European Union (27.3%), France (10.7%), the Netherlands (5.9%), and the UK (3.7%). The greatest amount of investment is related to, in order of funding, controls; energy storage; vehicle body and architecture; and electric motors.

Overall, academic and research partners together with the industrial partners constitute the highest share of partner types. Academia and research partners are very strongly involved in energy storage related projects, indicating a large bias towards more fundamental research activities for future energy storage solutions that are investigated in publicly funded R & D projects in the field.

—“Paving the way to electrified road transport”

Controls. R&D in this area is looking into controls for vehicle energy management systems, power grid communication, battery life monitoring, temperature management systems, EV sensors, and predictive control.

One of the directions of research is enabling technologies for controls for e drive train technologies. These include large-scale projects such as E3Car, which focuses on building a solid nanoelectronics technology for powertrain and power and high-voltage electronics for EDVs, and MOTOBRAIN, developing fault tolerant drive systems and control architectures.

Several German projects are centered towards the development of compact and more efficient electronics modules for EDVs (ProPower, NeuLand).

Other directions of research and development include research for new materials in control systems (i.e HI-WI, iKRAVT); controls for energy storage systems (i.e. EU’s SuperLIB, P-Mob, SMART-LIC, Dutch “Databox”, UK’s IHEPU, French MOV’EO E-CEM, German PELICAn), and chassis system management (i.e. ID4EV); controls allowing grid integration (i.e. e-Dash, IoE, SMARTV2G); and controls enabling road and vehicle communication

Energy storage. Energy storage projects are the most numerous projects among the European portfolio and second largest based on budget figures. (Germany has the largest amount of projects dedicated to R&D in energy storage for automotive applications.) The report classifies the projects in this field in different categories:

  • Projects related to materials and packaging (i.e. AUTOSUPERCAP, ELECTROGRAPH and OPERA4EV);

  • Li-ion batteries in fields of safety, energy density, power capability, cycle and calendar life (Cell components/cell level R&D; Battery modules R&D);

  • Post Li-ion batteries (Lithium-air, lithium sulfur, zinc-air);

  • Standardization of electrical, mechanical and thermal interfaces;

  • Cell components/cell level R&D;

  • Battery modules R&D;

  • R&D in the area of battery management systems and grid integration (i.e. EASYBAT, IoE);

  • Battery recycling.

Vehicle body and architecture. The report divides the projects in this area into 3 sub-categories: a) development of a new vehicle, especially realizing new mobility concepts; b) EV design and architecture optimization, and c) light-weight materials use and lightweight design solutions.

To some degree, the report notes, R&D for EDVs bodies and architecture is performed together with R&D on selected other components.

Electric motors. Research and development in this area focuses on cost and weight reduction, refinement of motor controls, alternative materials and on alternative concepts such as in-wheel-motors.

As examples:

  • The German project PerEMot is looking into further refining permanent magnet electric motors, improving their performance and developing new engine concepts with improved energy efficiency.

  • The project MORE is focusing on the recycling and especially enhanced recovery of strategic metals of these motors.

  • The French project AREMA focused on the improvement of performance of electric motors.

  • The EU project CASTOR is dealing with the innovative concept of better integrating the EV-power train components such as inverter, accumulator and engine.

France, Germany and EU have the highest budgets for electric-motor-related public funded R & D projects.

It can be concluded that many R, D and D activities in electromobility are currently performed throughout Europe. These activities are important to maintain Europe’s leading role in engineering and manufacturing transport equipment and providing transport services. To better leverage the synergies in the various activities across Europe, the authors believe that more information exchange and more coordination between projects would be beneficial. The authors hope that this report along with the EV-Radar tool is a contribution to an improved information exchange. Such exchange and coordination should certainly gain more momentum through the recently launched European Electro-mobility Observatory and the forthcoming implementation of the Strategic Transport Technology Plan.

—“Paving the way to electrified road transport”


  • Zubaryeva Alyona and Thiel Christian (2013) Paving the way to electrified road transport - Publicly funded research, development and demonstration projects on electric and plug-in vehicles in Europe. (EUR 25832) doi: 10.2790/85057 (online)


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