Roadmap for evolution of electric vehicles in Canada

The Roadmap Executive Summary, which culminates 15 months of cross-Canada consultations involving private sector companies in the electric vehicle industry, academics and government agencies, was presented by Electric Mobility Canada Chair Mike Elwood during the minister’s visit to the annual Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Conference (PHEV’09) in Montreal.

Asserting that Canada is well positioned to capitalize on the clean transportation option, because of the country’s significant amounts of renewable energy and growing electric vehicle industry, the roadmap calls on the combined efforts of governments and industry "to achieve the timely and effective commercialization of electric vehicles."

The roadmap estimates there will be at least 500,000 personal and commercial vehicles that rely exclusively or primarily on electric traction on Canadian roads by 2018. But to secure this vision, the roadmap recommends governments, industry, and other stakeholders make timely and substantial investments in Canadian development and manufacture of EVs and energy storage devices, to build on the country’s strong presence in these industries.

The report adds that consideration should be given to the supplementing of federal and provincial mechanisms to promote the development, public acceptance, and procurement of personal and commercial EVs, and also the installation of charging infrastructure.

The roadmap also outlines 21 strategic initiatives, which if implemented, and combined with the adoption of the key recommendations, will contribute to the likelihood Canada will "retain its vibrant and growing EV industry and play a role in the transition towards a more sustainable energy mix."

The strategic initiatives touch on the areas of technology, standards and regulations, studies and assessments, education and outreach. One of the proposed technology initiatives calls on governments and the private sector to demonstrate vehicle use in real-world operation to assess the reliability and durability of energy storage and other components in Canadian settings. Educationally, the report proposes assessing the resource requirements for training, education and certification in skills related to the emerging EV industry.

Mr. Elwood, the co-chair of PHEV’09, which was organized by Electric Mobility Canada, cited support for commercial and private purchasers of plug-in hybrids or battery vehicles, as a priority initiative.

"As with all new technologies, the cost at the beginning is higher and because of the environmental and economic benefits of these vehicles, it makes sense for governments to offer financial incentives in the early stages," he noted. "Once sale volumes reach larger numbers, the unit costs will go down. There are no such incentives at the federal government level in Canada at this time as compared to other developed industrialized nations. Several provinces now offer incentives."

Mr. Elwood said it is equally important to provide support to the battery industry to further research, develop more rapid manufacturing techniques and to generally advance the state of the art of batteries. "The new battery chemistries – lithium ion, for example – are evolving and have not yet been demonstrated over long periods of time," he added. "More development is needed – and possible – to improve range and reduce costs. Several other nations are supporting their battery companies to make these needed improvements and Canada has to step up to the plate, otherwise, these companies may well move to other countries where more favourable support is now available."

Electric Mobility Canada is a national membership-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the promotion of electric mobility as a readily available and important solution to Canada’s emerging energy and environmental issues. Its mission is to establish electric mobility, in all its forms, as the primary solution to Canada’s growing transportation energy issues and assist its members in the fulfillment of their mandates.