November 2011 ExCo and Task 1 Meetings Show Slow EV Sales, New Themes emerge—Incentives vs. Research and Quick Charging

March 6, 2012 12:25 PM
The ExCo toured the Carris Transport Museum in Lisbon.
© Dick Appels

Almost six months after the meetings in Istanbul, IA-HEV members travelled to Lisbon, Portugal, for the 35th ExCo meeting on November 10–11, in concert with the 32nd Task 1 (Information Exchange) meeting on November 9. Delegates attended from IA-HEV member countries Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (as a new member), the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom (U.K), and the Unites States (U.S.), as well as guest South Africa.

A number of the developments that were just getting underway by May 2011 had progressed enough by the November Task 1 meeting that some themes were evident:

  • One common thread was that EV introductions were progressing more slowly than planned in the countries with the largest announced planned rollouts, with modest sales numbers and manufacture delays in supplying EVs to consumers. In the U.S., sales of the Chevrolet Volt were on a pace to reach half of the 15,000 projected 2012 sales. In the UK applications for grants available to purchasers of plug-in electric vehicles were slower than anticipated. Fleets and consumers in Portugal and Spain were also slow to adopt EVs during 2011, largely due to the ongoing economic crises in both places.
  • Several countries have also weighed the value of offering consumer incentives to purchase EVs versus supporting national research and development (R&D) efforts. For example, in Portugal a consumer incentive policy is fostering imports of foreign technology with public money, while the domestic economy is flagging. Austria and Germany are both countries that have strong commitments to research and do not offer consumer incentives. On the other hand, the U.S. supports both consumer incentives and research.
  • Projects that integrate public transport modes such as trains and buses with electric vehicles to enable people to travel “the last mile” between the public transit terminus and their actual destination are underway in Austria and Belgium.
  • Quick charging is an emerging theme, with DC fast charging points already being installed in Denmark, Portugal, Spain, and the U.S. Also, Task 20 on Quick Charging was approved by the IA-HEV ExCo in Lisbon. Task 20 aims to discuss possible standards, impacts of fast charging on battery ageing and behavior, and lessons learned from previous EV deployments.

At the November 2011 ExCo meeting, several IA-HEV members spoke on a variety of topics that they had previously submitted. Topics addressed were:

  • Cross-border standardization & interoperability of charging solutions:
    Mr. J. Caetano from INTELI, the same organization which launched the MOBI.E project in Portugal, presented “MOBI.Europe”, an EU project on “Integrated and interoperable ICT (Information and Communications Technology) systems and services for electro-mobility in Europe”.
    This project aims to test urban and inter-urban ICT services and systems to enhance a wider uptake of electro mobility in Europe. Nationwide e-mobility programs from Ireland and Portugal, a regional program from Spain, and a Dutch city e-mobility program are represented in MOBI.Europe. France participates via the car manufacturer Renault. Integrating home charging into the electricity grid is one of the main areas of attention in this international project, as well as interoperability among ICT systems in different countries.

It was felt that today's standardization activities seem to focus mostly on technical topics such as plugs and charging modes, while standardization on how to commercialize e-mobility seems to be ignored. The timing of the introduction of technical standards is important. When introduced too early, they may stop innovation, and when the discussion of standards gets political it may also slow down developments. On the other hand, once international standards are in place, they may speed up the deployment of e-mobility.

  • V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) issues: Utilities and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have different opinions about V2G. Utilities are generally enthusiastic about this option while OEMs appear to be more reluctant. People who are skeptical about V2G say that stationary electricity storage systems might be cost less and more logical.
  • Electric roads: In electric roads, vehicles can obtain their energy while driving, as opposed to when they are parked. The Swedish Energy Agency currently supports three electric road study projects, because of their energy savings potential and because electric vehicles have the potential to eliminate fossil fuel use. The costs of building a new electric road are estimated to be 10% higher than for a conventional new road. Electrifying all existing Swedish roads would cost about the same as one year of fossil fuel consumption in Sweden.
  • Battery cost and engineering properties model: Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in the U.S. have developed the Battery Performance and Cost (BatPaC) software package. BatPaC is developed for modeling the energy density and cost of lithium-ion batteries for use in transportation applications and is available free of charge. A professional version of the software (BatPro) will be made available for a nominal fee in the spring of 2012.

The ExCo also voted to create a new Task 19 on “Life Cycle Assessment of Electric Vehicles” along with Task 20 on “Quick Charging” described in the sections above.

By Kristin Abkemeier (U.S.), Task 1 Operating Agent, and Martijn van Walwijk, Secretary-general