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'Implementation' is key for EUCAR

The European Council for Automotive R&D (EUCAR) brings together a range of forward-looking road transport research initiatives. Partners say the ultimate goal is to see real results on Europe's roads and highways.

The EUCAR event in Brussels © Peter Gutierrez
EUCAR in Brussels – Advanced road transport research.
© Peter Gutierrez

EUCARexternal link is an industrial association owned by its members, including more than a dozen major European manufacturers of cars, trucks and buses. They met recently in Brussels to discuss the state of affairs in collaborative R&D for automotive innovation.

"Implementation is the number one question, isn't it?" asked EUCAR Director Simon Godwin. "We, as car manufacturers, are constantly engaged in research, and the reason we do it, quite honestly, is because we believe there is money to be made in delivering a better product and better performance. There is certainly a demand for improved road transport, but to see the results of our work on the road we have to be sure that our customers are aware of what we are doing, what new systems and products are available and how they can be of benefit."

EUCAR research priorities:

  • Mobility and transport
  • Energy and environment
  • Safety and security
  • Affordability and competitiveness

The EUCAR conference in Brussels featured an exhibition area where some of the most recent and most advanced 'cleaner and greener' automobiles were on display, many of them developed with EU support, under the European Commission's Research Framework Programme.

EUCAR Research Coordinator Alessandro Coda admitted, "The high-tech cars you see here are still more expensive than normal consumer vehicles, so we need to get the prices down before we can expect to see them in greater numbers on the road. We have a clear demand from the policy-makers in terms of requirements to cut CO2 emissions, and we have a clear demand on the consumer side for cars that use less fuel. There is an overlap there, and as researchers we have to continue to work very hard to meet those demands and to see the results of our work put into practice."

The road to success

Alessandro Coda © Peter Gutierrez
Alessandro Coda
© Peter Gutierrez

With the launch of the European Commission's Innovation Union, getting ideas to the market is becoming more and more important. "We are placing our support behind a number of excellent projects, as you can see here today," said the European Commission's Hans Josef von den Driesch. "But we need to see them through to implementation. We need to see solutions in the real world, benefiting our citizens and society."

For now, says von den Driesch, the sort of advanced hybrid vehicle we see on the road is still, in effect, a luxury item. "They are selling," he says, "but we have to think more broadly. These are fantastic cars that make an important contribution to reaching our goals, but we can also consider other solutions, perhaps smaller and more affordable electric vehicles for short distances in urban areas, for example. This kind of approach could also make a big difference in terms of wider uptake."