LEVA-EU on the Challenge Innovative Batteries for eVehicles

We were reading through the announcement of the Challenge Innovative Batteries for eVehicles. To our astonishment it appeared from the rules for the contest that the challenge is only open for manufacturers of batteries for electric cars.

We are completely in the dark as to the reason for not opening up this challenge for manufacturers of batteries for light, electric vehicles. There are still a lot of issues to be resolved in this field, whilst some light, electric vehicles prove to be much more popular and successful than electric cars. Last year, an estimated 3 million electric bicycles were sold. Nevertheless, the business is still looking into weight reduction, range increase, new materials as well as into making batteries more sustainable. All e-bike batteries are Lithium-Ion, which as you undoubtedly know, still causes some sustainability issues.

LEVs other than electric bicycles also still have battery issues. The uptake of E-mopeds and E-motorcycles for instance is hindered by the fact that, due to the battery, their price-level is not yet competitive with their ICE counterparts. Furthermore, a growing number of LEVs, such as e-scooters, are being deployed in sharing systems, a trend that creates new challenges for the batteries.

In view of all the above, we would like to learn from the EIC what the reasons are for limiting the Challenge Innovative Batteries to electric cars and for not including LEVs

EIC-reply: Thank you for your email enquiry about the EIC Batteries prize and the concerns you raise on behalf of the industries you represent. The purpose of the EIC batteries prize was to spur innovation in new/novel battery chemistries (battery cell chemistries) with performance vast superior to any battery technologies currently on the market. The prize does not attempt to favour one mobility sector over another. Moreover, the call text generally reads “The challenge is to develop a safe and sustainable battery for electric-vehicles” (https://ec.europa.eu/research/eic/index.cfm?pg=prizes_batteries). The competition requires a battery “prototype” to be produced and therefore any inventor/entrepreneur coming up with a solution of a battery (cell chemistry) that can achieve the required performance characteristics, would be eligible for the prize.   It is true however that the text addresses specific requirements that are relevant for cars, namely; range, time required to recharge, whole-life costs, safety.  The electric car was chosen simply because it represents the most challenging platform for a battery’s performance in terms of energy density, weight, re-charging time and cost. In addition, the requirement for the field tests  “..will involve the fitting of the battery in a Euro NCAP small family car test vehicle (provided by the finalists)…” – is due to the fact that these are the highest volume sold vehicles in the EU and therefore relevant to the needs of the average family in Europe.   The prototype battery does not need to be fully integrated in a vehicle, but to be able to demonstrate the required performance. We hope you can recognise that although the battery packs for an electric car and a LEV are different, the cell chemistries inside the pack are the same. As such, a solution for a battery for an electric car would also be suitable for a LEV. To conclude, if any of the battery manufacturers you represent have a battery solution that is able to demonstrate the performance characteristics specified in the competition’s “rules of contest”, they are eligible to apply. It might be that they would need to fit their prototype battery in an electric vehicle to demonstrate the battery’s performance. I would therefore simply urge you to contact your association members engaged in battery development and inform them about the prize. As far as the Commission is concerned “A revolutionary battery solution may appear form anywhere”.

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