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Sweden invests SEK 1 billion in electromobility testbed

In Sweden, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and Chalmers University of Technology have, with support from the Swedish government, begun the establishment of the Swedish Electric Transport Laboratory (SEEL), a Swedish testbed for electromobility. Overall, contributions from the government, and the industrial partners China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT), Scania, Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, enable an investment of SEK 1 billion (≈ EUR 95.6 million) for the testbed.

Regular traffic with electrified buses is being expanded in Gothenburg, Sweden. Two prototype all-electric articulated buses from Volvo Buses are to be tested within the framework of ElectriCity (image courtesy Volvo Buses).

The automotive industry is extremely important for Sweden, and today we take an important step to secure Swedish automotive jobs in the great transition that is taking place in the transport sector. From fossil to renewable, from petrol and diesel to electricity. Our goal is to make Sweden one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare states. And to do that we need to both cut emissions and secure our competitiveness. The Swedish automotive industry will play a key role in this transformation, said Mikael Damberg, Minister of Enterprise and Innovation.

In 2017, RISE and Chalmers University of Technology were tasked by the Swedish government with creating a testbed for electromobility. According to a joint statement, a decision has been made to locate the Swedish Electric Transport Laboratory (SEEL) testbed in the Lindholmen area of Gothenburg, with additional facilities in the Stockholm region. RISE and Chalmers will build and own the facility jointly, with industry as the customer base.

This investment offers great opportunities for education, research and industrial development. The testbed complements the laboratories that Chalmers already has. It is ideal for us to take responsibility as one of the owners, to effectively contribute to rapid knowledge development relating to electric vehicles, said Stefan Bengtsson, President and CEO of Chalmers.

The aim of SEEL is to strengthen the competitiveness of the Swedish automotive industry, to help Sweden remain at the forefront of innovations in the transport sector, and to accelerate the shift towards a fossil-free Swedish society.

SEEL is unique in terms of the close collaboration that will take place between industry, institutes and academia. It has all the potential to become a world-leading electromobility testing facility. Together with our testing area for active vehicle safety, AstaZero, and our new test facility for stress-testing automotive electronics and wireless communications, Awitar, SEEL makes RISE well-equipped to be a strong innovation partner for the Swedish automotive industry in the future, explained Pia Sandvik, CEO, RISE.

SEEL will provide testing for all the different areas of electrified transport. For example, electrified gearboxes and driveshafts for different types of vehicles, drivetrain and component testing for hybrids and electric vehicles, as well as charging and smart power management.

CEVT has a clear mission within the Geely Group to become a world-leading innovation centre. Electromobility is an area that allows for new features that will be absolutely essential for our future products to meet tomorrow’s requirements for fossil-free vehicles. Development of these features requires a deep understanding of components and systems – SEEL will be part of the base we need to continuously develop this knowledge, said Mats Fägerhag, CEO of China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT).

The marine and aviation sectors are also expected to be able to make use of the testbed.

Scania is driving the shift towards a fossil-free transport system. Electrification will be an important part of that journey, and Sweden – with large vehicle makers, green energy and good cooperation between politics, academia and the corporate sector – has unique conditions to take a heavy role in this development globally. The two electric transport laboratories will be very beneficial for both developing and testing of heavy electric vehicles in Sweden, said Björn Westman, Senior Vice President and Head of Powertrain Development at Scania.

The different parts of the test bed will come into use as they become ready, with the lab expected to be fully operational by 2022.

We in the automotive industry have a major role to play in climate-management, and electrification is an important part of that work. We have started with buses and our first electric trucks, but much more research and development is required. SEEL will help us – and Sweden – to remain a leader in the development of vehicles and systems for climate-neutral transport, stated Lars Stenqvist, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Group.

In Germany, the eHighway project tests will see Scania trucks equipped with a pantograph power collector developed by Siemens mounted on the frame behind the cab (photo courtesy Scania).

Volvo Cars’ ambitious electrification strategy means that SEEL will be an important tool when developing and verifying the new technologies we are planning for the coming years. During the years 2020-2025, we anticipate a significant shift towards electrified vehicles, so the timing for SEEL is ideal. It is also an investment that will benefit both the industry and society, said Paul Welander, Senior Vice President at Volvo Cars.

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