Innovation funds crucial for leading Dutch automotive industry

On Monday the 24th of April, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, Mrs. Adriaansens, brought a visit to the Automotive Campus in Helmond. The purpose of this visit was to acquire more knowledge about Dutch initiatives in the field of sustainable and smart mobility. Innovation funds from the government are needed to maintain a leading position in the international market of mobility.

Minister Adriaansens was welcomed and shown around by Marc Hendrikse (figurehead top sector HTSM), Albie van Buel (RAI Automotive Industry NL), Lex Boon (Automotive Campus), Elly Blanksma (Mayor of Helmond), and Martijn Stamm (TNO).

Long term planning of innovation projects

To make an impact on the energy transition, long-term partnerships for emission-free, safe, and smart mobility have been launched between industry, government and knowledge institutions. RAI Automotive Industry NL stresses the importance of innovation funds to maintain the global innovative leading position of the Dutch Automotive industry: "Electrification, hydrogen and digital infrastructure are essential technology areas in this. By setting up projects on these topics, the industry develops knowledge and innovations that give it an international lead," said Albie van Buel, managing director RAI Automotive Industry NL.

The minister endorsed the importance of innovation in the automotive sector:

"In the future, we want clean and safe driving. That calls for innovation. With these leading companies, educational institutions, we are working together on the mobility solutions of the future. This creates innovations that put us even more firmly on the map internationally. I have seen wonderful examples of this today!" - Minister Adriaansens.

Electrification & battery technology

"The Netherlands has a strong industrial representation in heavy transport by road and water. It is important for this sector to continue having the battery as an energy carrier. With innovation funds, the Battery Competence Cluster Netherlands (BCC-NL) is working together cross-sectoral to create an ecosystem for battery technology to maintain innovation capacity, knowledge, and business activities for the Netherlands and secure international positioning from the value chain," said Gerard Koning (Cluster manager BCC-NL) and Rutger van Poppel (Program Manager BCC-NL).

A number of parties from the value chain explained their innovation. DENS has developed a modular, flexible battery pack, suitable for heavy-duty use, and linkable to all energy sources such as hydrogen, solar, wind, or grid. "The unique system features unrivalled energy density and maximum system safety, including a fire suppression system per compartment," said Tijn Swinkels, CEO DENS.

Paul Dietz, managing director of Auto Recycling Nederland (ARN), addressed the importance of having sufficient raw materials for drive batteries in the longer term. Recycling end-of-life batteries can contribute to this. "Good recycling also plays a role in supporting the transition to emission-free driving. Technologies already make it possible to recover more than 95 percent of the raw materials from the battery! Within BCC-NL, organisations have pooled their knowledge to take steps in this area," Dietz said. In conclusion, Delft IMP showed the materials required for coating technology.

Digital Infrastructure for Future Mobility

As a follow-up to the visit, the minister was able to see and experience how work is being done on Advanced Mapping and Radar technology for tomorrow and the future. This was done through a demo ride in two vehicles.

In TomTom's Research vehicle, a CCAM (Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility) use case was demonstrated. The Digital Infrastructure for Future Mobility (DITM) project explores techniques that can help keep the map accurate on a large scale (globally) by not only using in-car sensor data but also collaborating with government organisations that produce map data. "TomTom, through the DITM project, is playing an important role in accelerating innovative and efficient ways to generate reliable maps for automated mobility," said Paul Hesen, VP Product Management Automotive at TomTom. "This is only possible through the collaboration of multiple partners, sharing data and knowledge with the ultimate common goal of safer mobility. Today's demo showing reliable (current and accurate) lane-level localisation is tangible proof that we are making progress towards safer roads."

NXP's sensor car tests and validates new sensor radar data for Advanced Driver Assistant Solutions (ADAS). The live demonstration provides insight into how radar sensors can be deployed in the car of the future.


The third topic discussed in more detail was Hydrogen. "The potential of using hydrogen in the mobility industry is still underexposed. Especially within the Heavy-Duty segment. And especially for travelling longer distances, hydrogen offers a solution for cleaner transport."  As indicated by Bas ten Broeke from Westport Fuel Systems. The general objective is to enable a quick and smooth transition to emission-free heavy-duty transport and local energy supply (minigrids), enabling Dutch technology suppliers and industry to gain and build a leading competitive position in emerging the H2 technology market.

Minister Adriaansens was presented with the first results of several innovation projects. For example, she sat in the H2-High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) Truck which showed the possibilities combining cost-efficiency, high performance, and zero emissions in a single vehicle. A technology from Westport Fuel Systems in collaboration with TNO. A hydrogen fuel cell was also exhibited. Leading in this is Bosal Netherlands working in collaboration with TNO and Westport Fuel Systems, among others.

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