EUCAR Reception and Conference
7th November 2012 – The European Council for Automotive R&D (EUCAR) held its Annual Reception and Conference today in Autoworld, Brussels, highlighting how collaborative research and innovation through the EU’s future Horizon 2020 Framework Programme can support the achievement of societal objectives and a strong European automotive industrial sector. Speaking at the opening reception yesterday evening, Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action emphasised that EU research and innovation should contribute to the twin goals of climate protection and competitiveness of the automotive industry.
photos : vivian hertz
Commissioner Hedegaard explained how investment in automotive research and innovation (R&I) through Horizon 2020 is essential to ensure the availability of technologies that significantly reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from passenger and commercial vehicles. “I believe in a strong and competitive European car industry,” she stated. “Already now, we can see tangible results of the EU automotive industry’s efforts in research and innovation, also due to substantial EU funding under the current research programme. The average CO2 emissions of the new fleet have dropped from just below 160 gCO2/km in 2007 to 135 gCO2/km in 2011 and the supply of more fuel-efficient vehicles is continuously increasing. We want industry to maintain these efforts and the Commission’s proposal for Horizon 2020 clearly reflects this ambition.”
Jean-Michel Billig, Executive Vice-President of Engineering and Quality at Renault, representing EUCAR’s 2012 Chairmanship, focused on the necessary conditions to maintain a strong automotive industrial base in Europe, including affordability, leadership in advanced technology and business opportunities with future mobility. He stated: “In the 21st century, we are at an important turning point where the car must reinvent itself, conforming to human beings and to the planet as well as being environmentally-friendly”.
EUCAR Chairman and Vice-President of Research at Renault, Rémi Bastien, presented EUCAR’s priority initiatives for Horizon 2020 and how these can leverage further innovation and industrial activity. To support the automotive R&I priorities, he reiterated the importance of maintaining the proposed €80 bn budget for Horizon 2020 and of devoting contributions totalling at least €5 bn to the automotive initiatives. He said, “EU R&I programmes feed industrial research and create skills and knowledge, leveraging the industry’s own investment in the development of new products and helping to maintain the European industry’s strength”.
The Conference panel sessions featured keynote speeches from senior research executives of EUCAR’s members – the major European automotive manufacturers – and presentations from European Commission officials, key stakeholders in automotive R&I, and coordinators of EU projects. From the European Commission, Paul Timmers, Director for Sustainable and Secure Society in DG CONNECT, discussed the societal challenge of safety for all road users, and how ICT research and innovation in Horizon 2020 could leverage industry’s efforts towards meeting this challenge. On Materials and Manufacturing, Herbert von Bose, Director for Industrial Technologies in DG RTD highlighted how public-private partnerships can support innovation in key enabling technologies, ensuring that these lead to product development and competitive manufacturing.
In the panel on Mobility and Transport, Olivier Onidi, Director for Innovative and Sustainable Mobility in DG MOVE, referred to the recently published communication on a European transport technology strategy, highlighting how research and innovation – and in particular the well aligned Horizon 2020 Programme – can support the achievement of transport policy goals. Speaking about Fuels and Powertrains, András Siegler, Director for Transport in DG RTD, focused on future opportunities for powertrain research, detailing in particular how the future European Green Vehicles Initiative public-private partnership will focus on vehicle efficiency, including electrification.
In parallel to the Conference, an exhibition of results, technology and vehicles from EU automotive R&I projects involving EUCAR’s members was on show. These included advanced concepts for internal combustion engines using gasoline, diesel and natural gas fuels, and batteries for electrically-chargeable vehicles. Also demonstrated were vehicles exhibiting intelligent accident avoidance and cooperative driving.
photos : vivian hertz