The European Council for Automotive R&D (EUCAR), assembled in Brussels for its Annual Reception & Conference, reiterated the continuing need for dedicated automotive R&D programmes in the EU to give a clear focus to the sector’s contribution to the Grand Challenge of sustainable mobility. Addressing the evening reception on 8 November, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, highlighted the priority topics for ICT in the automotive domain: connected cars to improve safety and efficiency, electric vehicles and future manufacturing.
In his opening address at the evening reception, EUCAR Chairman Dr Marc Duval-Destin, PSA Peugeot Citroën Vice President for Research & Advanced Engineering, highlighted the complexity of automotive R&D, in which close cooperation between stakeholders and with the European Commission is essential. He underlined how the European automotive industry has worked in partnership to build an R&D platform for innovation in greener and safer vehicles, concepts to enhance future mobility and competitiveness in the global market.
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes presented her vision for the Digital Agenda, whose goal is using ICT to improve daily life, focusing on its application to the automotive sector. “There can be few better places to start than with mobility and the ICT ecosystem that supports it,” said Kroes. She also highlighted the important role of cooperation between stakeholders. “EUCAR’s partnership model has played a long-standing role – and the EU can play an important role, too,” said Kroes. “We need the automotive and ICT communities side-by-side.”
A dedicated automotive R&D initiative
During the EUCAR Conference, Dr Duval-Destin reiterated EUCAR’s view that R&D in transport should focus on sustainable mobility as one of the Grand Societal Challenges. EU R&D programmes should include a dedicated automotive R&D initiative, with resources devoted to meeting the sector’s societal demands of mobility, transport, environment, energy efficiency and competitiveness. “To ensure that automotive R&D is oriented towards providing effective solutions, expert input to the EU Framework Programmes from industry, together with the relevant stakeholders, is essential,” said Dr Duval Destin.
A panel featuring representatives of the European Commission, automotive suppliers, the energy industry and automotive manufacturers debated the future of Clean and Energy Efficient Vehicles. They highlighted that a number of vehicle technologies will be needed to ensure sustainable mobility of people and goods, including continued development of internal combustion engines, further electrification of the vehicle and low carbon biofuels.
Further sessions on materials and manufacturing, safety applications and fuels & powertrain brought together senior R&D executives of the European automotive manufacturers with other experts from the industry and the research community. They discussed the research needs in these priority areas and demonstrated the valuable results from current collaborative R&D projects, to be exploited for further development or to feed innovation in new products and services.