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Transport electrification (ELT)

Transport electrification can contribute to breaking transport dependency on oil and decrease carbon dioxide emissions. The increasingly decarbonised electricity generation will provide cleaner electricity to propel electric vehicles. Electric vehicles will be able to provide storage services to the grid, favouring further expansion of renewables.

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image of electric ferry

The development of energy storage technologies and devices remains the cornerstone of a fully electrified transport system integrated in a clean energy network. Decreasing battery costs while increasing their energy density and lifetime will speed up electrification of road transport.

The deployment of a network of recharging points covering the whole European Union road network is another key enabling condition for transport electrification.

The Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda (STRIA) Roadmap for Transport electrification aims to bring forward the developments carried out in the framework of the European Green Vehicles Initiative and encourage multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary research and innovation activities on new materials, advanced propulsion systems and information and communication technology.

Current developments
Mode of Transport icon: airborne

AIRBORNE - The aviation sector is in the midst of a pioneering era with regard to electro-mobility.
Currently, electro-mobility for aircraft only exists in the single/twin-seater categories and consists of retrofits of existing conventional designs with reduced payload capability.
Regarding fixed-wing commercial aviation, at current technology levels the development of even a hybrid-electric passenger aircraft appears challenging.

Mode of Transport icon: train

RAIL - On busy lines electrification makes economic sense. On low-density lines there is no proven cost-efficient solution to replace diesel-powered trains.
Nonetheless, when return of investment for electric wiring is not possible due to the frequency and the usage of certain lines, hydrogen and fuel cells can be considered as an alternative.

Mode of Transport icon: road

ROAD - The number of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road is increasing.
Vehicle manufacturers are launching dedicated models on the market, grid operators are installing public charging infrastructures and governments are funding multiple demonstrations and pilots, and creating framework conditions, regulations and incentives for the purchase and use of electric vehicles. In addition, electric bicycles and pedelecs are now more common.
Electrification of road vehicles has been extended to delivery vans, light trucks and buses, and prototypes of larger electrified trucks are being developed.

Mode of Transport icon: waterborne

WATERBORNE - Ships use electrical power on board to support service and loads. This includes fans, pumps, compressors, cranes, lighting, heating, electronics and computing. On-board diesel generators are used to supply these loads in port, however to improve local air quality the use of shore based plug-in electrical supplies is being encouraged. Ships are propelled by mechanical and electrical means. Around 2,500 ships in the world are powered by electric propulsion including cruise liners, shuttle tankers, offshore support vessels, liquid nitrogen gas tankers and ferries.
Electric propulsion offers advantages in performance and/or efficiency over traditional mechanical drives which are popular in vessels that operate over long distances. Integrated Full Electrical Propulsion systems are commonly found in ships from passenger vessels, Liquefied Natural Gas tankers, shuttle tankers, cruise ships, ferries and offshore support vessels. All-electric battery powered ships are emerging for shorter ferry routes up to 50km.

Key research and innovation pathways

The Roadmap sets out key priority research and innovation (R&I) actions for electric mobility in each transport mode until 2050. The scope of the activities in the area of transport electrification takes into account both advanced power-train technologies and new vehicle architectures, weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and rolling resistance and component development for alternative fuel vehicles.
The following table highlights identified key R&I actions until 2050.

ELT research image 1: electric bicycles
  1. Promote a 400+ kilometres range for electric passenger cars
  2. Development of small and light smart electric vehicles
  3. Progress and demonstration in urban bus electrification
  4. Public and commercial procurement of electric vehicles
  5. Certification of electric vehicle performance
  6. Develop electro-chemical systems for future high-density electric batteries
  7. Support local production of batteries, components and electric vehicles
  8. Demonstration of electrified road systems for heavy duty vehicles
ELT research image 2: train
  1. Electrification of secondary network to increase utilisation of electric motorisation
  2. Development of new motorisation
  3. Intensify electric freight rail transportation
  4. Develop intermodal hubs in cities
  5. Develop light vehicles
  6. Minimise the losses of electric railway infrastructure through smart power grids for rail
  7. Increase energy savings towards minimising fossil energy utilisation
  8. Regulation to harmonise energy characteristics for rails in the EU
ELT research image 3: electric ferry
  1. Raise public awareness of benefits of electrified vessel
  2. Deploy new materials and technologies
  3. Innovative financing tools
  4. Support education and training
  5. Research and development with focus on materials
  6. New business models
ELT research image 2: drone
  1. Improvement of energy storage systems
  2. Achieve maturity in High Temperature Superconductors
  3. Electric aircraft design
  4. Airport electrification by electrified support vehicles and charging infrastructure deployment
  5. Develop skills and competences for a specialised interdisciplinary work force
  6. Regulation towards decreasing cost and increasing product development speed

Data at-a-glance

TRIMIS Data at-a-glance presents the main transport research and innovation indicators based on TRIMIS data. Find out more about the geographical distribution of European Union transport research and innovation funding, discover the organisations involved in transport research activities and the evolution of funding. Discover the TRIMIS overview for overall data and the seven STRIA Roadmaps.

Further details are available in the full TRIMIS Dashboard.

Number of projects

EU contribution

Distribution of EU contribution

Transport-Related reserach and innovation funding