The EU's industry ministers attending a Competitiveness Council meeting yesterday (25 May) gave their support to the European Commission's strategy for clean and energy-efficient vehicles, which was published last month (EurActiv 28/04/10).
The strategy aims to promote the uptake of green vehicles without prejudice to technology, but it outlines specific action for electric cars, which it reckons are still missing a European framework.
The ministers called for car-charging interfaces to be rapidly standardised to ensure that electric vehicles can be recharged anywhere within the EU, with any model of charger. They argued that interoperability between electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure is key to winning consumers' acceptance and thus creating a mass market for the new vehicles.
Industry ministers thus urged European standardisation bodies to come up with a harmonised solution for the interoperability of plugs by mid-2011. They said this should take into account existing technical solutions and international work on standards, stressing the need to continue promoting EU standards internationally.
Currently, international efforts to create standards for electric cars are fragmented, and each region is working to become the leader in standard-setting by developing their own solutions.
Within the EU, a handful of member states have been striving for faster progress on a European vision for electric vehicles. Spain, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, has taken upon itself to drive the agenda.
At the Council meeting, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain presented a joint declaration on electric mobility, seeking to speed up the process to create a "fully interoperable pan-European charging system". Frequent expert group meetings should provide a draft EU standard in the latter half of the year, which would then be finalised by mid-2011, the draft said.
The four countries called on the European Commission to provide financing for pilot projects on electric mobility, especially for trans-national cooperation. While giving practical input to the development of common standards, these will also improve cross-border mobility.
France and Germany have started a cross-border electric vehicle pilot project in the Strasbourg-Stuttgart region.