Infineon Heads Largest European Electric Vehicle Research Project

October 15, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

What is described as Europe’s largest research project to advance the development of electric vehicles has been launched under the leadership of Infineon Technologies AG. The E3Car (Energy Efficient Electrical Car) project brings together 33 automotive companies, key suppliers, and research facilities from a total of eleven countries to collaborate on boosting the efficiency of electrically-driven vehicles by more than one-third. The goal of the project is to extend the travel range of electric vehicles by up to 35%, with a battery unit of the same size as a current baseline. Alternatively, this means battery units up to 35% lighter and more compact, while providing the same travel range as a current baseline, will be possible. It is hoped that the results of the E3Car project will help make Europe the world leader in the advancement and production of electric vehicles.

As part of the E3Car project and by the end of 2011, Europe is targeting research on innovative electronic components that play a key role in electric vehicle power consumption. Research will focus primarily on semiconductor components and power modules that control the supply and distribution of power in electric vehicles. These are used in the powertrain, which consumes most of the car’s energy, as well as in power converters and lithium-ion batteries. Project efforts are concentrated on extending the travel range per battery charge, on integrating components to make the battery, charge unit and power distribution network lighter and more compact, and on increasing the efficiency of the power converter so that as much battery charge as possible is used to drive the vehicle and is not lost through heat dissipation. Infineon’s contribution is the further development of power semiconductors and modules.

The total budget for the three-year E3Car project is around €44 million, half of which is funded by the 33 industry and research partners. The other half is provided by the ENIAC (European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council) organization and eleven funding organizations in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain. One of the largest sponsors is the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The German Federal Government is pursuing a holistic strategy. The "National Development Plan on Electric-Drive Vehicles", approved by the German Federal Cabinet on August 19, 2009, harmonizes and coordinates for the first time all relevant measures – from education and competence building at universities and colleges, through battery development, network integration and power management, to market preparation. The plan is designed to ensure that the whole concept of electric mobility – ranging from basic research to new business models – is adopted in Germany so that value added is generated in Germany and new future-proof jobs are created. The goal is to have one million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020. In total, the Federal Government is funding electric mobility to the tune of €700 million, €500 million of which come from the government’s second economic stimulus package.