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Electric Vehicles: Turning buzz into reality
Opportunity for further EU leadership in engineering and competence
Electric mobility will make an important contribution towards ensuring sustainable mobility and meeting the environmental demands of the future. Before the current ‘buzz’ can be turned into reality, however, a lot of issues still need to be cleared. At the same time, more conventional technologies, engines and fuels will continue to play an important role for years to come.
The European automobile manufacturers are transforming their product portfolios to include a broad range of electrically chargeable vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles (including fuel cells) and battery electric cars. But for electric mobility to take off and fulfill its potential, the cooperation of multiple players is necessary including the automotive industry, the energy producers and providers, the research and development community as well as governments on various levels – from EU institutions to towns and city councils. Together, these players must enable a workable and affordable mix of technologies, energies, accessible charging infrastructures, common standards as well as consumer information and targeted market incentives, and more.
FAQs about Electric vehiclesA set of answers to Frequently Asked Questions has been developed to respond to the most regularly posed questions on e-Mobility. Click here to find out more
EU leadershipEU vehicle manufacturers are world-wide technology leaders in fuel efficiency and safety. Electrically chargeable vehicles provide the opportunity for further EU leadership in engineering and competence - with a potential positive impact on employment in the EU.
The EU is challenged to define a clear roadmap with all stakeholders involved and ensure policy support for R&D, market introduction of such vehicles as well as the manufacturing of e-vehicles and components. Governments in the USA, Japan and China already support the new technology intensively, and this poses a challenge to European vehicle makers in terms of their global competitiveness.
Market shareAt the moment, various tests and projects in relation to electrically chargeable vehicles are in place across Europe and elsewhere in the world, and mass-market introduction will start in 2011 and 2012.
Most stakeholders assume a realistic market share for new, electrically chargeable vehicles in the range of 3 to 10% by 2020 to 2025, or between 450,000 and 1,500,000 units based on today’s market, depending on how quickly some of the immediate challenges can be addressed. The market share will increase progressively with every year that passes.
The internal combustion engine using conventional fuels will still be the dominant source of power in the coming decades. That is why progress must also continue to increase the environmental performance of more conventional propulsion systems as well as fuels, and the automotive industry will sustain its efforts in this field. Government policies must continue to include these CO2-efficient technologies and solutions in their overall sustainable mobility policy approach.
Electrically chargeable vehicles- What’s in a word?
Diverse transport needsLow-emission vehicles offer the most convincing solution on the road to sustainable mobility. Still, an easy answer to the challenges of future transportation cannot be given.
Electrically chargeable vehicles promise many benefits, in particular for towns and cities, but cannot necessarily meet other traffic and transport needs, such as larger daily driving distances at higher speed. Driving range and recharging time issues pose limitations in comparison to what combustion engines offer today. Society’s diverse transportation needs will, therefore, lead to further diversification of future vehicle types and their propulsion.
Low-emission energyCO2 savings will only be maximized if the well-to-wheel impact is clearly addressed at all stages of the fuel and energy chain. Electrically chargeable vehicles have low to zero tailpipe CO2 emissions. But vehicle manufacturers do have no influence on the source of the electricity on which their vehicle will drive, also called the ‘well-to-tank’ emissions.
What are the challenges?
- Customers will have to get used to some specific characteristics of the new technologies such as different driving or recharging requirements. The education and information of customers will have to involve all players concerned.
- The energy sector will have to build a suitable recharging infrastructure, as this will be the prerequisite for customers’ acceptance of electrically chargeable vehicles.
- National governments need to provide appropriate market incentives, particularly during the introduction phase of this new technology in the market. New technologies generally first come in low volumes and at a significant cost premium, and this needs to be offset by a positive policy framework.
- The automobile industry is competing to offer attractive electrically chargeable vehicles, while maintaining high safety and comfort standards. One among many major challenges is reducing the cost of the vehicle (in particular of the battery system).
- Standardisation bodies and the industry need to agree quickly on standards and common interfaces (e.g. vehicle-to-grid infrastructure) to avoid a fragmented pattern of locally competing and incompatible solutions. The goal must be to establish EU-wide standards, and if possible, worldwide.
Hurdles to battery transport must be clearedA practical hurdle that needs urgent attention is the existing weight restriction on the transport of li-ion batteries by air freight. Categorised as “Transportation of dangerous goods” (UN recommendation, regulated by ICAO/IATA), air freight of these batteries is limited to max. 35 kg and requires special cargo planes. As a consequence, the auto industry has to use more expensive, logistically challenging and time-consuming transport options, including sea. The air freight of components is essential for the development of new technologies worldwide. The restriction should be lifted or the limit raised to at least 400 kg.
Incentives for electric vehicles on the rise
National and regional governments of 15 EU member states have introduced incentives for buying electric vehicles. The measures mainly consist of tax reductions and exemptions, as well as bonus payments for the buyers of electric vehicles. This is shown in a survey by ACEA among national associations of motor vehicle manufacturers or importers. The full overview is available here.
The European car industry welcomes the increasing trend to take into account CO2 and other emissions in car taxation. Fiscal measures are an important tool in shaping consumer demand towards fuel efficient cars, notably when it comes to electric vehicles and other breakthrough technologies.
The environmental results of such tax incentives may, however, be negatively influenced by the widely varying systems in each country. The European car industry urges EU governments to show more resolve in harmonising car taxation schemes.
The car industry advocates a linear system, in which tax levels are directly proportionate to the car’s CO2 emissions and every gramme of CO2 is taxed the same. Car tax schemes should neither include nor exclude specific technologies and be budget neutral.
FAQs about Electric Vehicles
- ACEA Position on ECVs
- European auto makers pave way for uniform system of e-vehicle charging
- ACEA members address the challenge of standardising the charging of electrically chargeable vehicles
- Press Release: Auto manufacturers agree on specifications to connect electrically chargeable vehicles to the electricity grid
- Press Release: Commission defines framework conditions for deploying ‘clean and energy efficient vehicles’
- Press Release: European vehicle makers welcome policy coordination around e-mobility
- Speech by Dieter Zetsche on the future of electric cars
- EUCAR: The Electrification of the Vehicle and the Urban Transport System - Recommendations on key R&D by the European Automotive Manufacturers
- ACEA comments on the EU Project on Transport GHG: Routes to 2050?
- Increasing number of incentives for buying electric vehicles
- Interview with ACEA Secretary General Ivan Hodac on electric vehicles
Market & Economy
- MOVE 2013: Future Mobility Concepts and Enablers, 25-26 September 2013. ACEA members get a 15% discount on the registration fee by clicking here
Recent and Past Events
- ACEA Annual Transport Policy Event 2012: How Can Policy Reflect Changing Transport Demands? 6 December 2012,Brussels. Click here for more...
- Our Future Mobility Now "Innovation for Europe, Skills for the Future" Roundtable 10 October 2012. Click here for more...
- ACEA European Oil Sequences 2012 Link for ‘certification and registration’ (page 3) now available: http://acea.dossier-on-web.com/eor/engine-oil-registrations/menu/eor/front-page.
- To see the 2010 ACEA oil sequences, please click here:ACEA European Oil Sequences 2010