Verbund and partners: the age of electromobility


Joint Austrian Mobile Power platform invests EUR 50 million by 2020 - investment volume of EUR 5 billion possible.

Verbund in cooperation with Siemens Austria, Magna, KTM, AVL and AIT, is launching a platform called "Austrian Mobile Power" to lead Austria into the Age of Electromobility. By making joint investments totalling around EUR 50 million in the context of the very first nationwide Electromobility Initiative, leading Austrian companies want to get 100,000 electric vehicles equipped with as much Austrian technology as possible on to Austria's roads by 2020. Apart from that, they are to be powered exclusively with Green Power, additionally generated in the years to come. This could lead to total investments of as much as EUR 5 billion.

Chief executive of Verbund, Wolfgang Anzengruber: "In the traffic sector, the future clearly belongs to electric power systems. As a country of renewable energy sources, first and foremost hydropower, we in Austria have everything it takes to establish an entirely novel traffic system that is based on renewable energy sources right from the start. Let's take this unique opportunity: In the future, let's refuel our vehicles inexpensively, let's drive noiselessly without emissions, but still fast enough and far enough!"

Step-by-step implementation
Austrian Mobile Power is to be implemented in several very specific steps. By the end of the year, binding contracts are to be concluded and the pilot stage planned. This starts in 2010 with a test fleet of 100 E-vehicles in at least one urban centre yet to be chosen. By 2012, this city is to have up to 1,000 E-vehicles on its roads. Alongside that, the necessary infrastructure will be established, most importantly charging stations and billing systems, for example by using cellular radio.

By 2013 at the latest, a corresponding number of modern, fuel-efficient and high-range electric cars will be available for sale or lease. In the next step, Austrian Mobile Power will start its rollout phase. For the time being, plans focus on 10,000 vehicles in the model region. Next, there will be a gradual increase to 100,000 E-vehicles by 2020.

Pursuant to a rough cost calculation, investment costs total EUR 5 billion, of which 4 billion are spent on vehicles, 200 million on infrastructure, 400 million on power production and 50 million each on the already mentioned development costs and the operating costs of infrastructure.

"We view our Austrian Mobile Power initiative as an open platform in the pilot phase," Verbund Chairman of the Managing Board Anzengruber explained. "Partners who want to join us and work constructively on future mobility are of course welcome."

Verbund coordinates the Austrian Mobile Power platform including any new partners, locates model regions, offers procurement logistics for E-vehicles in the pilot phase, provides the required renewable energy, among other sources by providing several solar-energy charging stations, examines consumer behaviour and financing and billing models along the entire value added chain.

In addition, Verbund is seeking to increasingly expand high-efficiency renewable energy sources in Austria with the aim of operating as many electric vehicles as possible, exclusively with additionally generated Green Power. After all, this is the only way possible to make a truly essential contribution towards climate protection and emission reduction in the traffic sector.

Austrian Mobile Power's target of 100,000 E-cars requires 200 million kWh of electricity annually. Verbund will be able to generate this extra amount from domestic renewable energy itself this year, specifically by new hydroelectric power stations and by expanding and renovating existing plants.

By 2015, Verbund will have planned and built new hydroelectric power stations in Austria, which will generate close to 900 million kWh of additional electricity a year. Added to that, there will be another 100 million kWh, which Verbund is aiming to generate from domestic wind power in the years to come. This means that Verbund alone can offer additional electricity production from domestic renewable energy sources totalling 1 billion kWh by 2015, which would be enough to power 500,000 electric cars.

Siemens Austria
"Electromobility is an essential part of our environmental portfolio," Siemens Austria Chief Executive Brigitte Ederer pointed out. "This is the reason why Siemens does a lot of research in this area. It is primarily a matter of identifying the requirements of the electric cars and, secondly, it's all about the needed infrastructure, in other words, the power grids. With regard to intelligent power grids, the so-called Smart Grids, particularly, we have a competence centre right here in Austria, which is why I am especially pleased that we can contribute our know-how to this forward-looking project. On top of that, by our cooperation we are providing for more research, more development and new jobs in Austria."

As a worldwide leading company in the area of energy systems and environmental technologies, Siemens focuses on innovative concepts for electric drive systems. With its products and solutions, the company covers the entire electric value-added chain - from production and sales all the way to the end-consumer.

Integrated in an energy concept of the future based on renewables, electrically powered vehicles can become mobile and flexible components. Because electric cars are not only able to store energy from the grid; if needed they can also feed energy into the grid, thus absorbing the grid fluctuations that occasionally occur with wind and solar energy. 

Due to their double role as transportation means and mobile energy storage unit, the energy and communication interfaces to the energy grid have to be standardized so that a fast charging and recovery process can be coordinated and billed across the entire grid.

Siemens Austria is involved in the Austrian Mobile Power project in the following areas: Charging stations (definition of requirements and design and development of charging infrastructure), system architecture - interfaces (requirements and concept development for pilot region) and Smart Grid (requirements, grid-related technical scenarios, billing model, system integration and optimization).

"The electric vehicle is one of the key subjects of the future," says Karl G., Director of Business Development, Magna International Europe AG. "Although we're not exactly speaking of a revolution, nevertheless, it's an important step to an emissions-free mobility. The goal is developing a vehicle and producing sufficient numbers of the same in order for the vehicle to correspond to the original aim of the automobile, which is transportation from point A to point B in an emissions-free, comfortable, safe and low-cost manner."

Magna is one of the leaders with respect to the electric vehicle, from the development to electric overall vehicle concepts up to production of components and systems as well as integration of the same in the vehicle.

Intense research and work is being conducted on hybrid solutions for the drive chain: thanks to its overall vehicle competence, MAGNA STEYR is able to develop a hybrid version, from mild to full hybrid, out of any basic vehicle.

Especially the lithium-ion battery as "key technology" for electric vehicles is getting substantial attention from MAGNA STEYR. It is not just the individual components but also the entire battery management, as well as safety strategies, that are developed here and made ready for series production.

Magna Powertrain develops and produces a number of innovative products for electric and hybrid vehicles, from electric drive oil pumps to electric rear axle modules, in addition to the numerous components and systems for conventional drives and engines.

In order to be able to work even longer on these forward-looking subjects, an independent project, "House" was created. Here, experts from MAGNA STEYR, Magna Powertrain and Magna Electronics work together to achieve innovative solutions for the mobility of the future.

Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Pierer, Chairman of the Board of KTM Powersports AG, says: "We are convinced that, thanks to our vast competence in the areas which are important for this initiative, we're able to take on a leading role. And we see the platform "Austrian Mobile Power" as an additional, forward-looking field of operation for our company."

From the very beginning, KTM has stood for innovative and strong-performance off-road and road motorcycles, which can be used for both racing and leisure sports. In order to safeguard this performance guarantee, KTM is constantly meeting new challenges - it is not for nothing that the company philosophy goes "Ready to Race!" A commitment which is rewarded by the customers: The company from Mattighofen, Upper Austria, is not only the largest off-road motorcycle producer in the world but also the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in Europe.

KTM presented the prototype of a "zero emission" bike as early as 2008. This is a noiseless and emissions-free Enduro motorcycle, which is not just of major significance for the medium-range future of Enduro sports but also provides clear direction for the motorcycle technology of tomorrow. This completely new drive concept, which, together with "Arsenal Research", based in Vienna, makes KTM an electric motorcycle pioneer, is to go into series production in the very near future. However, as far as electrification is concerned, KTM does not plan to limit itself to two-wheelers. The development department already has several concepts for three- and four-wheel electric vehicles, which will urban mobility possible through other than traditional patterns.

The fact that KTM is a master of the subject "Automotive" was demonstrated in the automotive world no later than spring of 2008, when super-sports wagon X-BOW was presented at the Geneva Automobile Salon. From the beginning, the revolutionary vehicle was a success with its extreme design, but above all, through the utilization of technologies that first came into their own mainly in series automotive engineering, for instance, the carbon fibre monocoque. Hence, the competence acquired in the area of high performance fibre-reinforced polymers (FRFs) is a key technology for the development of electric vehicles, which, in order to achieve the greatest possible efficiency, has to be constructed in as lightweight a fashion as possible.

The globally active company AVL, which plays an important role as a technology partner in the platform "Austrian Mobile Power", has far-reaching experience in the area of drive electrification. AVL Chairman of the Board Helmut List is convinced of "the future belonging to electrification".

New drives and technologies, which AVL offers, among others, in form of different hybrid and electric drives, are in the foreground both with automobile manufacturers and consumers - with the goal of making their vehicles more efficient and reducing CO2 emissions.

For List, the key to the electric drive is in the battery: "On the one hand, AVL concentrates on optimizing the battery as such; on the other hand, it works at system developments such as Range Extender in order to reduce the demand on batteries."

The utilization of the AVL Pure Range Extender makes it possible to extend the range of electric vehicles and to reduce both battery size and costs. The AVL Pure Range Extender disposes of a generator that can generate electricity, if required, and equips electric vehicles with a range equal to that of conventional vehicles. This ALV solution sets new standards in terms of noise, costs, weight and necessary installation space and is, therefore, a substantial "enabler" for a broad acceptance of electric vehicles.

In its participation in the platform "Austrian Mobile Power", AVL is underlining the significance of the cooperation of different partners from different industries in order to boost the implementation of future oriented technologies. The combination of research results can produce valuable data that can further expedite progress towards new drive forms.

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
The implementation of electric mobility on a broad basis requires places high demands on research and development activities. Electric vehicles have to comply with the required range and safety regulations, and there is still the need for both development of new battery systems and highly optimized drives and the combination of the same with lightweight construction concepts.

Hence, from an energy perspective, loading concepts need to be developed, adequate management systems for the distribution of energy need to be conceived and highly efficient systems for extracting energy from renewable sources need to be utilized. Moreover, an appropriate loading infrastructure has to be integrated into urban development and traditional mobility concepts need to be re-evaluated.

The connection of competencies and research emphases of the two departments "Mobility" and "Energy" of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology allows for a complex and systematic examination of electric mobility and provides an innovative environment for the vehicle and energy industry.

AIT Manager Anton Plimon: "A research environment which allows for the interconnection of energy and vehicle related issues and embeds these technical solutions in new mobility and urban development concepts, provides opportunity to implement highly optimized overall solutions."

"Within the context of these multi-facetted research questions, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology lends itself to being a top specialized research partner in the platform Austrian Mobile Power. With 250 employees working on these topics, a systematic approach to the examination of electric mobility, as well as a unique research infrastructure, we have a leading role in the area of electric mobility in Europe," states Plimon.