"The car of the future" task force to develop priorities for research projects On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop in... On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop industrial common research projects in order to reinforce European competitiveness. This article examines the task force which focuses on the car of the future: In view of the enormous growth in traffic, the problem of pollution caused by vehicles is increasing, despite efforts to produce cleaner cars. Certain countries are so alarmed by this situation that they are considering introducing tough legislation in an effort to help solve the problem. Some progress has been achieved in producing less polluting cars which are also safe and more efficient in energy use terms. Manufacturers have made efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and other polluting substances but much remains to be done. The automobile industry is a key economic sector in Europe. The added value of direct production of vehicles represents 9% of GDP. The sector employs 1.8 million directly and the total employment generated by the industry accounts for 8.3% of the whole of manufacturing employment in Europe. In 1991, research costs incurred by the European automobile industry amounted to ECU 11 billion. However, in the specific field of research on the clean car and electrically powered cars, the efforts of European industry are irregular and are lagging behind foreign competitors. The US government, for example, is intending to set aside US $ 300 million for research in this area while Japanese industry is also investing large sums in this direction. The task force is seeking to facilitate the research and demonstration activities necessary to develop a new generation of car over the next five to ten years by encouraging more coordination on producing a car which produces very low emissions or none at all. Activities will be concentrated on the most important technological aspects of the problem: - Advanced technologies of energy storage and propulsion, in particular battery-powered technology; - The most important complementary technologies (electronics, light materials, computer-aided systems); - Integration of these technologies in vehicles which produce very low or no emissions, or in hybrids, in close collaboration with the automobile industry. In order to gain a better picture of needs and priorities, the task force has already had informal contacts with the automobile industry and related industries, including SMEs and energy producers and distributors. Meetings are being held with representatives from all sectors involved to define the scientific and technological aspects of an action plan. Further meetings are envisaged to discuss the progress of research and results. Action programme for the remainder of 1995: - 14 June: meeting of heads of industries with Mrs. Cresson and Mr. Bangemann; - October: proposed action plan, drawn up in coordination with all key parties; - December: consultations with industry and the European institutions; - December: implementation of the action plan. For details on the five other task forces, please see the relevant record on the RTD-News database (identified by its RCN number): - Multimedia educational software (RCN 4288); - The new generation of aeroplanes (RCN 4290); - Vaccines and virus-based diseases (RCN 4291); - The train of the future (RCN 4292); - Transport intermodality (RCN 4293).