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Intelligent cars: Commission leads the drive for safer, greener and smarter cars

Commission Européenne - IP/07/1342   17/09/2007

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IP/07/1342

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Brussels, 17 September 2007

Intelligent cars: Commission leads the drive for safer, greener and smarter cars

The European Commission today outlined new plans to accelerate the drive for safer, cleaner and smarter cars. The Commission will start negotiations with European and Asian automotive industry associations later this year to reach an agreement on offering the pan-European in-vehicle emergency call system (eCall) as a standard option in all new cars from 2010. It will also further promote the take-up of other life-saving technologies and investigate how technology can help make cars greener and smarter.

"Technology can save lives, improve road transport and protect the environment. The EU must spread this good news among consumers and continue to put pressure on stakeholders to ensure Europeans benefit from these winning technologies sooner rather than later," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "If we are serious about saving lives on European roads, then all 27 Member States should set a deadline to make eCall and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) standard equipment in all new cars. At the same time we need to clear administrative obstacles to innovations that will make cars safer and cleaner. For example, making sure radio frequencies are available for cooperative driving systems that will cut accidents, reduce congestion and lower CO2 emissions. If fast progress cannot be made voluntarily, I stand ready to intervene."

Jacques Barrot, Commissioner for Transport, said: "In our fight to halve the number of road casualties by 2010, we are taking action on all fronts - safer drivers, safer infrastructure and safer vehicles. With this action on intelligent cars, the Commission is pushing to ensure that cutting edge technology finds its way into our cars as soon as possible where it will help save lives and reduce the environmental impact of transport."

Vice-President Günter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, added: "We should fully exploit our technologies and knowledge to the benefit of our societies. We have available technologies to better assist drivers and by doing so we will help avoiding human tragedies. Therefore I proposed to introduce mandatory Electronic Stability Control (ESC) for new cars as of 2011 and I am now waiting for the public reaction."

The Commission's new Intelligent Car Communication adopted today has three main priorities: safer, cleaner and smarter cars.

To improve safety the policy document encourages the take-up of accident avoidance technologies. For example:

  • The Commission calls on Member States that still have not signed the Commission's eCall Memorandum of Understanding to catch up by the end of 2007 (see IP/07/760). Up to 2,500 lives could be saved in Europe if all cars were equipped with eCall. It foresees possible regulatory actions for 2008, if there are too few new signatures by then.
  • The Commission will consult on how to speed up Electronic Stability Control (ESC) availability for middle-class and small cars later this year. 4000 lives could be saved annually, and 100,000 crashes avoided, if all cars had ESC (see IP/07/621), as the Commission's recent awareness drive ChooseESC! (www.chooseesc.eu/) underlined.
  • The Commission will hold a consultation later this year on whether fitting braking assistance and crash avoidance systems should be obligatory for all cars. Sensors giving drivers a half-a-second more warning ahead of a crash, could reduce rear-end collisions by 60%.

The Commission will also produce guidelines on incentives, such as Member State tax schemes, for smart car systems by mid-2008.

To make road transport 'greener' the Commission will propose in 2008 a plan to roll-out the most effective low-CO2 technologies, targeting both the vehicles and the infrastructure. This will follow the results of work to quantify ICTs contribution to reducing CO2 in road transport for which there is currently no reliable data.

For smarter road transport the Communication calls on relevant stakeholders to develop a standard interface to connect, for example, mobile navigation devices with other systems integrated into the vehicle. The Commission also requests equipment suppliers and carmakers to implement its December 2006 Human-Machine-Interfaces recommendation on general principles for the safe installing and use of mobile information and communication systems brought into the car. It will also continue to fund research into smart communications for safer and more efficient transport.

Background:

The Intelligent Car initiative, part of the EU’s i2010 strategy (see IP/05/643), was launched in February 2006. This was the first strategic framework for a smarter, safer and cleaner road transport based on ICTs (see IP/06/191).

This Communication will be outlined tomorrow at the Intelligent Car Yearly Event 2007 in Versailles, France. On 19-20 September an EU-funded research project looking into preventive road safety applications and technologies will exhibit its final results. 24 prototype vehicles and six simulators will also be on display to journalists.

There will be a demonstration in Versailles on 22 September 2007 where the public will be able to see prototype cars and find out about the car of the future.

So far, over 50 stakeholders (such as the automotive industry, automotive suppliers, telecom operators, road operators, emergency organisations, motoring clubs etc.) as well as the following countries have signed the eCall Memorandum of Understanding: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland. For full list see:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/esafety/doc/esafety_library/mou/list_of_signatures_mou.pdf

See also press pack for frequently asked questions, related websites, audiovisual material and the Human-Machine-Interfaces recommendation:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=3602

MEMO/07/358


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