Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation will begin to develop an electric vehicle community and launches a project preparation for electric cars and their systems. The shared testing and research platforms will support Finnish companies to take part in the significantly growing international business in the field.
The preparations were launched on the basis of a report commissioned by Tekes. The report, which was compiled by SWOT Consulting Oy, was finalized in the beginning of August.
According to Teija Lahti-Nuuttila, Director of Energy and Environment Industries at Tekes, the aim is to form a close-knit Finnish development community for electric cars, which has access to testing environments and the possibility for mutual testing and demonstrations.
In addition to Tekes’ input, the initiative requires wide and strong commitment also by other actors in the field. The project’s aim is to bring together all Finnish operators in the field and agree on common measures so that as wide national advantage as possible can be achieved. The project preparations will continue on fast-track basis during autumn 2010.
From the perspective of the Finnish electric vehicle community, Finland has the benefit of an advanced charging infrastructure required for electric cars, and experience on vehicle testing in challenging conditions. Finland also has world-class expertise in electrical engineering, telecommunications and programming, as well as vehicle design and manufacturing.
According to the report, new business potential can be found, for example, in electric work machinery, vehicle software, in the field of charging systems and grids and in testing environments and services, especially in cold environments.
Finland is also an ideal test bed for companies outside Europe, such as Chinese car manufacturers, who may be interested in importing cars into the EU. The extensive sub-contractor network around Valmet Automotive also has space for new businesses.
The value of the electric vehicle and work machinery business is around EUR 200 million in Finland at the moment. Tekes’ initiative is aimed at helping the industry to grow to EUR 2 billion by 2020. In 2009-2010 Tekes has taken part in funding the 20-million euro development work on electric car systems. The projects have focused, for instance, on battery technology and systems, hybrid solutions and the electric solutions for work machinery.