European strategy on electric vehicles lacks vision

While Going-Electric praises the Commission’s Communication for being less technologically neutral and recognizing electric technologies as clean options, we deeply regret that it does not focus all available financial resources on Electric Vehicles. Their technologies are by far the cleanest, well mature enough for large market penetration. But they require heavy investments and temporary public incentives to spread on the roads.

Going-Electric is convinced that focusing all resources on electric technologies is essential to ensure the future competiveness of the European vehicle industry, against some Asian and American companies that are already doing so.
Comments specific to cars

The Commission needs to fully understand three points that are essential for drawing a forward-looking strategy on clean and energy efficient cars:

1. The true environmental impact of clean car technologies

Undoubtedly, the three most sustainable car technologies are electric:

* Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), also called pure electric vehicle.

* Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV), also called Series Plug-in Hybrid EV (SPHEV), which is a Battery Electric Vehicle with an on-board generator that switches on when batteries are low.

* Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV), which are electric vehicles whose electricity is provided by a sort of a battery powered by hydrogen (or other gases such as methane).

Well-to-Wheel, these electric cars are all far cleaner and more energy efficient than traditional combustion cars, significantly reducing CO2 emissions, oil consumption, and urban pollution and noise.

Other alternative technologies, such as biofuel powered cars, parallel hybrids, hydrogen powered engines, compressed air vehicles and cars powered by natural gas, may bring some environmental benefits. However, these benefits are significantly lower than for BEVs, EREVs and FCVs.

2. The state of development of clean and energy efficient car technologies

BEV and EREV technologies are simple and well-known – BEVs are 150 years old! They are ready for widespread penetration of the car market. Further research is only needed to develop competitive advantages.

If BEVs and EREVs are still more expensive than combustion vehicles, it is mainly because they are produced in low volumes. To increase production volumes and lower the costs, incentives are temporarily necessary: for manufacturers, subsidies for building production plants; for electric car buyers, a mix of financial and – most important – non-financial advantages such as use of bus lanes and free unlimited parking on public space.

Fuel-Cell Vehicles (FCVs) are not yet a fully mature technology. More money and effort should be invested into research, pilot plants and large scale demonstration project in order to enable widespread FCV commercialisation in the future.

3. The real needs of the automobile market

About 80% of car traffic carries only one person for distances shorter than 60km, mainly in slow traffic. With their limited driving range, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are ideal for this usage. They definitely cover the mainstream need, not a "niche market"!

For urban areas, electric quadricycles and Ultra-Small Urban Electric Cars should be favoured since they can be up to twice as clean and energy efficient as large electric cars while significantly reducing traffic and parking congestion.

For longer trips – 20% of the mileage, Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs) are the cleanest solution available now. When they are commercially ready, cleaner and more energy efficient solutions such as fast charging BEVs and/or Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) will replace EREVs.

No-one will buy an electric car if he can not charge it at night next to his home. To cover short distances, all what EV drivers need is a slow charging station with a local plug close to where they live, which could be only powered at night. Fast charging stations with a standardized plug will only be useful in the future if some BEVs are to also cover long distances.

Going-Electric, the European Association for Battery Electric Vehicles (AISBL), is a Brussels-based international non-profit association of businesses, associations, NGOs and individuals, promoting Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Europe as the most sustainable motorised road vehicles.

The mission of Going-Electric is to be the voice of all EV stakeholders towards a European legislative framework enabling a European leadership in EV production and commercialisation.