Alternative Powertrains

New powertrains will revolutionise the vehicles we drive, and change urban and inter-urban mobility.

Alternative powertrains include propulsion systems that are not based exclusively on the popular internal combustion engine. This may include hybrids, full battery electrics, hydrogen fuel cells, compressed air, and many other types.

Presently, vehicles with internal combustion engines are by far the most popular choice of powertrain. However, concern for the environment has led to policy targets on carbon emissions both globally and at EU level. The EU is committed to a 20% reduction in CO2 emission levels by 2020 compared to the level in 1990. For many authorities, this coincides with the objective of improving air quality. In transport, this is being achieved by encouraging greater emphasis on increasing the efficiency of existing means, while promoting reduced-carbon alternatives. Refinement of traditional technologies, such as the internal combustion engine, will remain significant contributors to greater eco-friendliness alternative powertrains will play an increasing role in the transport policy mix. However, it is hard to predict the extent of the role just yet.

Maximising the decarbonisation of transport in a sustainable and cost-effective way requires a reevaluation of how technology investment and uptake is handled. It has to include an objective assessment of the relative efficiency of transport technologies. 

ACEA welcomes the European Commission's moves to harmonise electric vehicle charging points, as well as to improve the provision of the clean infrastructure necessary for these alternative powertrain vehicles to become widespread. With the right framework conditions, alternative fuels have the potential to play a key role in improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions. The automobile industry has put forward a number of solutions through its investments in cleaner technologies. These will bear fruit only if there is full cooperation between utility providers, infrastructure companies, the energy sector, standardisation bodies and the automotive industry - with the full support of national governments and the European institutions.


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