The revolution on transportation industry starts speeding up also in Finland and other Nordic countries. Electricity, if produced by renewable energy (like wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power), could provide the needed low emission power source for transportation industry.
Earlier this summer, Swedish Volvo and state-owned Vattenfall launched a joint venture for plug-in hybrids to market by 2012: the target is to develop a hybrid car for households which could be charged from a common household electric outlet in about five hours ( a press release). On May, City of Copenhagen and Better Place launched a plan to build up an electric vehicle pilot project with electric-car reharging infrastructure (with battery-switching stations) in Copenhagen Region (a press release). US based Better Place has been partnered globally with Renault-Nissan and will create a battery-switching station network allowing drivers to charge with five minutes.
Finnish Valmet Automotive and state-owned Fortum announced last week their plan to introduce a fully-electric concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2010 (a press release). The target is to develop a four seat city car that could be driven up to 160 km per one charge. As a subcontractor manufacturer Valmet Automotive is not introducing the new car brand: instead, the target is to create an electronic vehicle (EV) platform and to develop technologies to be presented for potential OEM customers. In 2009, Valmet Automotive is starting OEM manufacturing of two electric vehicles: golf cars for Danish Garia and the first plug-in hybrid for Fisker Karma.
Fortum as a utility focus to develop electrical charging system and advances the wide-scale adoption of electric cars. Like the case in Sweden, the electric plug-in network in available (thanks for engine block heaters) in Finland but the wide-scale adoption of electric cars will require the electronic capacity and reharging network to be developed.
Valmet and Fortum development project was jointly released with a plan by the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy’s electric car committee (a press release, only in Finnish). Finland targets to boost the growth of Finnish transportation industry for 2 billion euros turnover by 2020. The direct financial incentives by the state would be quite moderate: instead, the plan is more to focus on R&D, piloting and infrastructure development and finally, increase the adoption of electric cars by revising the vehicle taxation for favor for sustainable transportation.
The EV technology and electric capacity suitable specially for our cold climate is definitively needed: think about the peak in electricity demand and the price in cold winter days. But don’t worry: in same connection, VTT (state-backed research organization in Finland), Fortum and FEVT (Finnish electric storage application provider) launched a joint R&D project on EV technologies in cold conditions. (a press release, only in Finnish)
I think August 6th was very good day for Finnish cleantech. Despite that there will definitively be the market also for biofuel/diesel cars, an electric car concept will be a big change. In long run, it will boost the demand in advanced solutions for the whole value chain in Finland from car manufacturing, power electronics & software to increased electricity demand with clean energy production.