Showing just how serious it is about electric vehicle roll out, last Thursday the European Union began a four-year, cross-Europe collaboration to study, demonstrate and promote electromobility.

To be conducted by the European Commission, the executive body for the European Union, the Green eMotion Initiative is an ambitious €41.8 million ($59.1 million) project with many electric-vehicle enabling outcomes predicted.

Of the €41.8 million, €24.2 ($34.2 million) is to come from the EU which is still working to solidify unity across vast regions, in which 23 languages are spoken.

General Motors is not listed as a participant, but with the anticipated European launch of the Chevrolet Volt, it does stand to benefit.

Forty-two participants from across Europe will include industrial companies, utilities, automobile manufacturers, municipalities, universities and research institutions.

The project is intended to help bring to fruition the broad-reaching goals of Europe’s Transport 2050 initiative, which has mandated radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, it calls for a 50-percent reduction of conventionally fueled cars in cities, and by 2050, it seeks to utterly phase them out.

”Transport is current 96-percent dependent on oil for its energy needs. This is totally unsustainable,” said Siim Kallas, vice president of the EC and commissioner responsible for transport, “The Transport 2050 Roadmap aims to break transport's current oil dependency and allow mobility to grow. We can and we must do both. It can be win-win. But there are major challenges.”

The EC said Green eMotion will take place in selected European regions to develop best practices, exchange information, and share experience leading to new infrastructure.

“This is a project that tackles some of the practical problems and real bottlenecks for cities and companies who want to bring electric vehicles to the market,” Kallas said, “It is exactly the kind of initiative where European co-operation adds huge value. This is a very promising initiative for the future.”

Siim Kallas, vice president of the European Commission in charge of transport, shown here at the High Level Kickoff Event for the Green eMotion Initiative.

The project will actually involve not just autos, but buses, trucks, motorcycles and scooters.

As part of the European Green Cars initiative, Green eMotion will, compare twelve ongoing regional and national electromobility initiatives in eight different EU member states in order to identify the best from a variety of technological approaches. The several types of electric vehicles to be involved will assist in development of solutions for the grid, information technology, and urban mobility concepts.

“The local concepts applied to date, in which experience was accumulated in specific demonstration regions, will now be bundled in cross-European trials,” said Heike Barlag from Siemens, coordinator for the Green eMotion project. “By bundling individual activities in a major partner initiative we’re gaining momentum and transparency, and ensuring the coordinated development of electromobility.”

According to Better Place, one of the companies involved, “Special aspects in some of the demonstration regions include battery swapping and DC charging as well as smart grid integration, cross-border traffic, different payment systems and the testing of alternative business models.”

Out of this are expected to be developed “new high-value transportation services and innovative billing systems,” the EC said. Existing green mobility standards will be improved, and new ones will be developed.

“Green eMotion will demonstrate this interoperable electromobility framework in all participating regions,” the EC said, “and will thus provide the basis for its replication across Europe.”

Speaking on its area of expertise, Better Place said more than 10,000 charging stations will be involved. Nearly 1,000 are to be put in at Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga, about 400 in Rome and Pisa, roughly 3,600 in Berlin, and just around 100 in Strasbourg.

Early adopters are not known to follow the herd, and this is no exception. The soon-to-be-launched Opel Ampera is shown allowing locals the right of way.

In Ireland, about 3,500 charging stations are in the works, and 2,000 electric cars are expected there soon as well, Better Place said.

Another 2,000 charging stations are slated for Denmark, which generates 20 percent of its power by wind. Car importers there are also expected to bring in 2,000 electric cars this year.

Denmark is additionally embarking on an electric vehicle battery swapping project as part of Green eMotion.

“The batteries in electric cars and in battery switch stations serve as a distributed energy storage network allowing utilities to harness additional sources of renewable energy including wind,” Better Place said.

As the nation most-reliant on wind, Denmark is the likely test case creating standards that could later be used in other parts of Europe.

“By the end of this year, Danish drivers will enjoy virtually unlimited range when they can swap out a depleted electric car battery for a fully charged one via a network of battery switch stations,” Better Place said, “Danish consumers can expect to save 10-20 percent on total cost of ownership on the purchase of an electric car and mobility services than what they currently spend on petrol or diesel-based cars and fuel.”

The partners in the Green eMotion Initiative are the industrial companies Alstom, Better Place, Bosch, IBM, SAP and Siemens, the utilities Danish Energy Association, EDF, Endesa, Enel, ESB, Eurelectric, Iberdrola, RWE and PPC, the automobile manufacturers BMW, Daimler, Micro-Vett, Nissan and Renault, the municipalities Barcelona, Berlin, Bornholm, Copenhagen, Cork, Dublin (represented by the energy agency of Codema), Malaga, Malmo and Rome, the universities and research institutions Cartif, Cidaut, CTL, DTU, ECN, Imperial, IREC, RSE, TCD and Tecnalia, and the technology institutions DTI, fka and TÜV NORD.

European Commission
Better Place