At the Clean Energy Ministerial in Washington, DC, 19-20 July, ministers reaffirmed their commitment to previously-announced targets for the deployment of electric vehicles, which the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates will create global market momentum leading to at least 20 million electric vehicles on the road worldwide by 2020.

In support of those targets, the ministers are launching the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), which will provide a forum for global cooperation on the development and deployment of electric vehicles, and accelerating their commercial uptake. As of 20 July, participating governments include China, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Other initial partners include the International Energy Agency.

Electric vehicles have become a strategic focus of the automotive industry during recent years, but the technology is still nascent in the global marketplace. EVI is a government-led global initiative that will collaborate with relevant industry, academic, and end-user stakeholders to scale-up electric vehicle sales. Participating countries agree to:

  1. Launch a pilot cities program to promote electric vehicles demonstrations in urban areas;

  2. Share information, as appropriate, on funding levels and other features of research and development programs on electric vehicle technologies to ensure their collective investments are strategically addressing the most crucial global gaps in vehicle technology development; and,

  3. Share information, as appropriate, on electric vehicle deployment targets, as well as best practices and policies, to enable progress toward those targets.

Pilot cities. Participating countries will establish pilot projects in several cities for the demonstration of electric vehicles in public transportation and government use. Participating countries may also share experiences from existing pilot projects.

The specific technologies that will be the focus of the pilots may include hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), all-electric vehicles (AEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).

Each participating government will share experiences from at least one of its cities that pilots electric vehicles in the public transportation sector or in government fleets. In addition, those governments will share relevant information and data from the pilot with participating governments, manufacturers of automobiles and associated parts, power plants, and research institutes, and seek active engagement from the private sector. The primary objectives of the pilot are:

  1. Promoting cooperation on the research and development, demonstration, and commercialization of electric vehicles;
  2. Sharing experience in policy, management, data analysis, and publicity, etc. to support the scale-up of electric vehicles;
  3. Exploring universal standards for vehicle evaluation, infrastructure, and communication protocols; and
  4. Conducting analyses of the demonstrations, including cost-effectiveness assessments.

To lead off the effort, China is organizing an International Forum on Electric Vehicle Demonstration Cities, as well as building a “demonstration zone” in one of its pilot cities as a platform for the pilot.

Strategic Public Investment in Electric Vehicle Innovation. In its December 2009 Global Gaps in Clean Energy RD&D report, IEA identified electric vehicles as the clean energy category for which the gap between innovation needs and public research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) investment is most severe.

In this context, Ministers participating in EVI will share information on public investment levels in RD&D for electric vehicles in order to maximize the innovation benefits from scarce RD&D investment. Ministers will also look for opportunities for strategic RD&D cooperation to spur progress in the global electric vehicles industry through, for example, focusing on the most critical global gaps and encouraging joint research where appropriate. These efforts will help catalyze the technological innovation that will be critical to achieving participating countries’ deployment targets.

Information Sharing on Targets and Best Practices. As sales and production targets for electric vehicles are established and pursued, it will be helpful for governments to work together (involving the private sector and other stakeholders as appropriate) in order to learn from others’ successes and failures, as well as to address universal issues that affect the deployment of electric vehicles. For example, sharing information on targets may help governments to understand how their plans relate to those of other countries, which will help them to anticipate, and thereby hopefully avoid, supply-side shortages.

In addition, there is also the need for a dialogue on the interconnection of electric vehicles, which would likely involve reaching out to the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN), which was also launched at the Clean Energy Ministerial. More generally, EVI will lead an ongoing and structured dialogue to enable countries to identify and adopt best-practice deployment policies and programs that help them to cost effectively reach their own respective targets.

Structure. EVI will be a forum for high-level government dialog on the development and deployment of plug-in vehicles. The initiative will be implemented and coordinated through an Advisory Group with representatives from each participating country, as well as from the IEA. EVI will explore opportunities to build upon existing international initiatives.

EVI commenced at the Clean Energy Ministerial in Washington, DC. Participating countries pledged to continue discussions through high-level roundtables organized by the IEA during the Paris Motor Show in Fall 2010 and the Shanghai Motor Show in Spring 2011.

Other Initiatives. Ministers from 24 governments participating in the Clean Energy Ministerial launched 11 new initiatives, including EVI, to accelerate the global transition to clean energy. Participating governments account for more than 80% of global energy consumption and a similar percentage of the market for clean energy technologies.

The following governments participated in the Clean Energy Ministerial: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Other initiatives launched at the Clean Energy Ministerial include:

  1. Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD)
  2. Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) Partnership
  3. International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN)
  4. Clean Energy Solutions Centers
  5. Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage (CCUS) Action Group
  6. Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group
  7. Sustainable Development of Hydropower Initiative
  8. Multilateral Bioenergy Working Group
  9. Solar and LED Energy Access Program (SLED)
  10. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C-3E) Women’s Initiative