Electric cars on the move along the A40 (Germany)

Together they will be examining the practical implications of “electric commuter traffic between Rhine and Ruhr”. The project partners are RWE Effizienz GmbH, Renault Deutschland AG, the automotive engineering research company, Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka), and the Institut für Hochspannungstechnik (High-Voltage Engineering Institute) of RWTH Aachen University. Coordination is carried out centrally by the project control centre, EnergieAgentur.NRW.

“The project combines technology with customer proximity and improved quality of life. It is intended to make electric vehicles more visible and tangible in the region,” says Christa Thoben, Economics Minister for North Rhine Westphalia (NRW). The Federal Ministry for Traffic, Construction and Urban Development (Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung – BMVBS) supports this particular project, as part of the Electric Mobility forthe Model Regions Program, to the tune of approximately €7 million.

The vehicle fleet consists of 40 Renault pre-production electric vehicles along with 110 converted electric cars that RWE is providing as lease vehicles. Renault is providing models of the Kangoo Express Z.E. utility vehicle and the Fluence Z.E. mid-range family sedan, which is already due for production launch in Europe in 2011, once the project is over. Both models are already capable for market launch of a range of 160 km, and the choice may be made between standard charging and quick charging. In addition, with the Fluence Z.E. empty lithium ion batteries can be exchanged entirely automatically in just a few minutes for a fullycharged one using the Quick-Drop system.

The RWE lease electric vehicles, based on the Fiat 500 and baptised Karabag 500 E, are equipped with the most up-to-date lithium-ion batteries. Models based on the Fiat Fiorino are also being used. With a range of between 100 km and 140 km they are perfectly suited to urban driving.

The goal of this joint project is to integrate electric mobility into the everyday commuter traffic along the urban nexus of the A40 motorway. This metropolitan area, often blighted by traffic jams and concertina traffic, provides the ideal environment for testing the strengths of these clean and silent-running electric vehicles. With the focus on the towns of Mülheim, Essen and Dortmund, RWE is to construct a comprehensive charging infrastructure by mid-2011. In addition, data will be collected to enable the development of marketable products such as GPS devices with a clear charging station overview and route planning. The project participants hope in this way to drive forward the necessary research and development to facilitate the introduction of electric mobility.

On the research side, the project is to be intensively monitored, examined and evaluated. The BMVBS Electric Mobility in the Model Regions Program is implemented by NOW GmbH (Nationale Organisation Wasserstoff- and Brennstoffzellentechnologie – the National
Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Organisation).

In the words of the partners
RWE Effizienz GmbH: Carolin Reichert, Area Manager for Electro-Mobility at RWE Effizienz GmbH: “Together we are bringing green electricity to the streets of North Rhine Westphalia. Our biggest generalized test for charging stations and electric vehicles comes at just the right time, since the first mass-produced electrical vehicles are about to be launched on the market.”

Renault Deutschland AG: Achim Schaible, Chairman of Renault Deutschland AG: “We are delighted that Renault’s electric vehicles have successfully qualified to participate in the ‘E-Mobility in Commuter Traffic’ development project. Electric vehicles are central to our company strategy and in this way they become a reality for our customers.”

The Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) research institute: Dr. Markus Bröckerhoff, CEO of fka: “Electric mobility presupposes new concepts for mobility and road traffic. The electric vehicle can only become a reality if a holistic approach is in place from the very start, in the design and manufacture of the vehicle, the drive train, the safety concepts and the on-board electronics. Optimal coordination of the components and their interplay affects range, performance, reliability, road capability and safety, all of which are pre-requisites for customer acceptance.

RWTH Aachen: Prof. Armin Schnettler, Head of the High-Voltage Engineering Institute at the University: “In the decades to come, electricity will become the dominant energy source. Secure and efficient energy supplies in the future urgently require the transformation of today’s power grids, formerly designed to be unidirectional, into so-called ‘active grids’. These are characterized by the close interplay of innovative energy technologies, flexible operational concepts and an increasing leverage of information technologies.”

Dr. Ernst M. Schmachtenberg, University Vice-Chancellor, RWTH Aachen: “Emission-free mobility is one of engineering’s biggest challenges. RWTH Aachen University is ready to take this challenge on.”

The Institute for High-Voltage Engineering (Institut für Hochspannungstechnik) of RWTH Aachen works in conjunction with FGH e.V. on many R&D projects concerning network integration of renewable energies and electric vehicles and on qualifying these for power systems. Currently, a “test and qualification center for battery storage systems and grid technologies” is being constructed, where the intention is to work on the development and implementation of innovative solutions for future energy systems in close cooperation with industry and science. With around 100 employees, the Aachen Institute is one of Europe’s largest high-voltage engineering institutes. 

Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) research institute: As an experienced development service provider, fka will be technically monitoring and analyzing the vehicles used in the field testing in the framework of this project. The aim is to determine acceptance levels concerning this new concept of electro-mobility, so that any customer inhibition thresholds vis-à-vis this unfamiliar technology may be identified and overcome.

Renault Deutschland AG: Renault is firmly established on the German market as a full-line carmaker proposing a comprehensive product range across all vehicle segments. As the biggest foreign car manufacturer in Germany for 19 years, Renault has a prime position on the German auto market. With the market launch of a complete model range of electric vehicles from 2011, Renault is the leading automotive manufacturer in the field of zero-emission mobility.

RWE Effizienz GmbH: With revenue of around €48 billion in 2009, RWE AG is one of the leading European power companies. The company is currently constructing charging infrastructures, principally in Berlin and North Rhine Westphalia, and is testing electric vehicles under conditions of everyday use. RWE Effizienz GmbH has already set up over 240 charging points in Germany and proposes the first converted e-vehicles to customers.