The 1st European Advanced Automotive Batteries Conference (AABC) on 4-5 February saw dedicated presentations about the market opportunities for lithium-ion batteries in PHEVs and EVs, an exhibition of product and services solution, and more question marks about where the European market will be heading. A cars21.com glance from within.
AABC event on 4-5 February in Mainz
The event on 4-5 February brought together around 600 participants from Germany, the EU and other world regions to discuss the technological development and market trends for lithium-ion and other battery systems in automotive applications. Sessions focused on the market prospects for hybridized and full-electric vehicles, and energy-storage solutions for highvoltage hybrids.
Discussions with suppliers and research institutes during coffee breaks confirmed once more that the European market, similar to other geographical regions, is confident that electric vehicles are here to stay. However, when asked about predominating technology trends, market prospects, and the joint ventures and partnerships needed respondents lamented a lack of market transparency and predicted a rather conservative market trend as opposed to ambitious sales figures put forward by politicians.
What comes after the hype?
In the day’s first resentation, Nusa Urbancic from Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment presented key findings from its study “How to avoid an electric shock”. Urbancic reminded participants that historically electric cars failed to reach the mass market as external pressures – including spikes in
oil prices, but more importantly legislative pressure – were not maintained. A consistent use of the EU legislation on CO emissions from passenger cars would at present be the most suitable policy mechanisms to “force” carmakers invest in low-carbon technology, including EVs. However, in the short term hybrid solutions would be needed to pave the way towards full-electric vehicles. The real “well-towheel” environmental benefits of EVs would largely depend on the use of renewable energies, where without them a large market penetration would not make sense from a climate point of view. A major key to success would now be to close loopholes in EU legislation that would reward electric vehicles with offsetting a disproportionate share of conventional vehicles in a manufacturer’s fleet. As a result, a small penetration of EVs could lead to a significant increase in ICEs within the next few years. Here European legislators are asked to review legislation and provide real incentives for carmakers to invest in EVs.
Germany: Funds revitalize R&D for electro mobility
The €500 million funds provided by the German government are starting to revitalise the R&D infrastructure for battery technology created a decade ago. With a large part now going to basic research and field tests, existing and re-established partnerships between research institutes, suppliers of testing equipment, battery manufacturers, and OEMs have led to a positive business climate for the next couple of years, with uncertain prospects for the years after. Regional investment bodies are now
targeting domestic and foreign companies willing to settle down in identified German research centres and model regions to reach the government’s target of 1 million EVs by 2020.
Fabian Kley from Fraunhofer research institute presented a concise overview of ongoing projects in Germany supported by the state aids:
- Built-up of competence centre: bundling of competences and system analysis within the Fraunhofer group, and the establishment of academic programmes in electro-chemistry
- Vehicle components: development of recuperation, propulsion systems, and on-board electronics
- Energy components: development of grid-integrated storage concepts Batteries: production technologies for li-ion batteries, battery test and cycling stands, recycling of li-ion traction batteries
- Field tests: 8 pilots with private passenger cars; further projects focusing on commercial transport; integration of e-mobility in public domain; field test of hybrid busses for public transport