Projects to pave the way for electric-vehicle mass market

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched three major research projects worth £4.5 million to support the roll-out of plug-in vehicles in the UK.

ETI is tasked with developing technologies that will help the UK meet its 2050 carbon reduction targets under the Climate Change Act, including work leading to a self-sustaining mass market for electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.

One of the new projects will look at consumer reactions and behaviours in buying and using plug-in vehicles and the supporting infrastructure. Another is concerned with electricity distribution networks and intelligent plug-in vehicle charging network architecture, as well as the necessary additional infrastructure required for plug-in vehicles. The third will examine the economics and carbon benefits of a mass roll-out of plug-in vehicles.

All three projects are due for completion in 2011 and will be delivered by consortia including industry, academic and consultancy expertise. The three contracts will be led by Arup, IBM and Ricardo UK Ltd, in collaboration with the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, E.ON Engineering, EDF Energy, Imperial Consultants, TRL Ltd, Shell, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Sussex and Element Energy.

Arup, the University of Leeds and E.ON will develop a model to analyse the economics of UK-wide electric and hybrid electric vehicle usage, and the possible carbon reductions. E.ON and Arup are already working together as part of the CABLED consortium – a one year West Midlands trial of 110 electric and hybrid electric vehicles funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

Ricardo is leading the project - also involving TRL, Shell, Element Energy and the Universities of Sussex and Aberdeen - to forecast and characterise in detail the future consumer market for plug-in electric vehicles.

IBM and partners EDF Energy, E.ON and Imperial Consultants will evaluate the potential impact of electric vehicles on Britain's electricity grid. The project will also assess the infrastructure required to achieve a mass market for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the UK.

This announcement from the ETI follows February's commitment by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to provide grants to consumers of up to £5,000 for ultra-low-carbon cars and to support the roll-out of charging infrastructure in London, the North East and Milton Keynes.

The next stage of the ETI low carbon transport programme will look at large-scale real-world testing of PHEVs and EVs across the UK to support a self-sustaining mass market.

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