Issue: May 2009


European automotive industry outlines R&D priorities for EU Green Car Initiative



by James Hilton

The European automotive industry has submitted clear and concise R&D priorities to the European Commission to shape the European Green Car Initiative, announced by the EU.

The Green Car Initiative, a part of the European economic recovery plan, aims to allocate EUR 5 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 European automotive manufacturers and suppliers play a key role in research, development and innovation of products and services to evolve towards greener vehicles and transport systems. They are determined to extend their substantial track record of R&D achievements, through progress in:

Mobility & 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 & 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 & 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.

Automotive manufacturers and suppliers call on the EU to adopt these priorities and implement them as soon as possible. It is, in particular, important 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 automotive sector has been particularly hard hit by the current financial and economic crisis as vehicle demand has slumped and access to finance is severely limited. EU and national government support is essential to help the sector bridge the extraordinary economic downturn and sustain investments in R&D.
The automotive industry is the backbone of the manufacturing industries in Europe and directly and indirectly supports the jobs of over 12 million employees.

Notes: 

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. EUR 1 billion (from a total of EUR 5 billion) will come from the existing EU 7th Framework Programme for R&D funding and includes EUR 500 million to be financed by the industry. The remaining EUR 4 billion will become available in EIB loans to individual projects from manufacturers and suppliers. These loans usually cover 50% of the total investment.

CLEPA is the European umbrella membership organisation representing the interests of the global automotive supply industry. 82 of the world's most prominent suppliers for car parts, systems and modules and 26 National trade associations and European sectoral associations are members of CLEPA, representing more than 3,000 companies, employing more than three million people and covering all products and services within the automotive supply chain. Based in Brussels, Belgium, CLEPA is recognized as the natural discussion partner by the European Institutions, United Nations and fellow associations (ACEA, JAMA, MEMA, etc).

EUCAR is the European Council for Automotive R&D from the major European passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturers. EUCAR facilitates and coordinates precompetitive research and development projects and participates in a wide range of collaborative European R&D programmes. The European automobile manufacturers are the largest private investors in R&D in Europe with around EUR 20 billion investments per annum, or 4% of turnover. EUCAR is closely connected to ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.



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