Auto industry focus moves to R&D to achieve competitive manufacturing in Europe

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The increasing demand for transportation of people and goods in combination with the need to achieve a sustainable energy supply and reduce the environmental impact of mobility pose a major challenge to all actors involved in the transport sector. The European automotive manufacturers have focussed and strengthened their joint R&D activities accordingly and in addition, seek to closely collaborate with other major stakeholders in the field of mobility and related policy. This message was expressed yesterday at the annual EUCAR conference in Brussels, where the European automotive manufacturers presented the major topics for pre-competitive, collaborative automotive R&D in the next decades.

“The overall objective behind the cooperative automotive research and development projects is to provide mobility and transport of people and goods also in the future in an efficient, affordable, safe and environmentally sustainable way”, said Christoph Huss, EUCAR Chairman and Vice President BMW Group, International R&D. “To reach this, the strong dependence on fossil energies must be reduced by moving towards a higher share of renewable energies, as well as greater efficiency.”

Regarding road safety, the next R&D steps will focus on cooperative systems using communication between vehicles and infrastructure.The introduction of ICT/ITS systems will enable the reduction of congestion and lead to more efficient transport of people and goods with a multi-modal concept. To deliver these and other innovative solutions the European automotive industry needs to stay competitive, ensuring efficient and flexible manufacturing in Europe and delivering affordable products. An important part of the collaborative R&D of the automotive sector will be in pursuit of increased strength and competitiveness in a global context.

EUCAR serves as a platform and body for collaborative R&D, in sharing resources, finding common solutions and providing a basis for developing common standards. Professor Jürgen Leohold, Executive Director Group Research at Volkswagen and EUCAR Chairman for 2009, stressed that EUCAR will keep initiating R&D activities with regard to high-priority topics for the future, such as electric vehicles and cooperative safety systems. Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW Board Member (R&D) confirmed the determination of the European automotive manufacturers and EUCAR to stay on course with the R&D program as outlined at yesterday’s conference, and to further enhance cooperation with the automotive suppliers, energy sector, ICT/ITS industry, national and EU institutions.

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