With its 2-million population, one might not expect Slovenia to offer the world technological breakthroughs with disruptive consequences. Yet, with its contributions to the development of more sustainable and human-oriented forms of mobility, the nation is punching above its weight. The world’s first serially produced and fully certified electric airplane is made by a Slovenian company. Renault car plant located in Slovenia is also producing electric cars and relies on many local suppliers for components for electric and hybrid cars. Slovenian companies are the leading producers of certain types of electromotors and their key components. They have developed unique solutions, like in-wheel electric drive systems, or lightweight motors for electric planes. Innovative SMEs also offer smart interactive charging stations for e-cars, VR and AR based simulation tech used in vehicle testing, and measurement solutions for vehicle development.
True to its niche and smart specialization strategy, Slovenia is the home of global leaders in very narrow areas of the aerospace and boating industries – and all its champions in these areas are developing sustainable mobility solutions. The small town of Ajdovščina in western Slovenia has evolved into a veritable hub of advanced aerospace development in Central Europe. It is home to the leading ultrasmall airplane manufacturer, a pioneer in the field of electric and hybrid powered airplanes. In the last decade, when the electric planes of global aerospace giants were still in the experimental phase, Pipistrel had already gone into serial production as the first in the world. Their neighbors in Ajdovščina are world leaders in producing fixed wing unmanned light aircraft systems used for high endurance surveying, security, and remote sensing. Another Slovenian SME has developed a unique and environmentally friendly watercraft – powered by a locally manufactured electric drive. A research team from the University of Ljubljana is among leading groups developing technologies for autonomous boats.
The world’s oldest wheel with an axle was found close to Ljubljana by Slovenian archeologists. By some weird coincidence, contemporary Slovenian companies are working hard on “reinventing the wheel” by putting the electric drive inside of it. Slovenian companies are among the global leaders in the development of in-wheel electric drives. At the moment these drives are mostly being used in lighter vehicles like scooters or three wheelers. However, the ambitious Slovenian in-wheel drive pioneers are already testing solutions for luxury SUVs and trucks.
One of the strongpoints of Slovenia’s automotive industry are the mechatronic components, electromotors, and their parts. The industry is therefore in a perfect position to support its partners in the coming disruption in mobility. As development suppliers to major car brands, Slovenian components manufacturers offer a range of specialized solutions from special electromotors, commutators, magnets, electrical steel laminations, to various sensors, aluminum battery trays and connecting assemblies. Compact and lightweight axial flux e-motors developed in Slovenia are suitable for light electric vehicles, boats, and airplanes.
Three important contributions to the development of autonomous vehicles.
The leading national scientific institutions are working together with partners in Europe and elsewhere in areas like hydrogen technology and electrochemical energy storage technologies. The companies also cooperate closely with partners from both research institutions and businesses, within large projects, in areas like electrolytic composites, proton exchange membranes, UAS swarming, or electromotor technology.
Car and e-bike sharing are widely available throughout the country. Slovenia is also covered with a dense network of charging stations for electric vehicles. Slovenian manufacturers of charging stations have developed an AI based interactive station backed up by a scalable e-mobility management system. The system can be easily integrated within the smart power grid.