Projects / Transportation

Electric vehicle corridors and fleets

As modern society increasingly begins to question the use of fossil fuels for transportation, electric vehicles are slowly and quietly introducing a new paradigm of mobility for the 21st century. The time is not far off when the age-old consumer model of buying a car from a dealer and then purchasing costly fuel from another form of commercial distributor could soon become a thing of the past.

The innovation that represents the advent of the electric vehicle – private and commercial – will extend far beyond the boundaries of private enterprise since the infrastructure needed to allow electric vehicles to get from point A to point B and back again will likely involve a number of key players.

However, that is not to say that entrepreneurship will be entirely excluded from the process since innovation is more often than not the result of individual and commercial enterprises. And since electric vehicles will at one time or another have to be plugged into a city or province`s electric grid, governments will also have a role to play in the creation of the infrastructure required to make electric networks (i.e., plug-in stations) available to owners of these vehicles.

For example, in the fall of 2015, the Province of Quebec and the City of Montreal jointly announced that their goal was to have a network of 1,000 plug-in stations in the city and across the province by the year 2020.

In 2013, the government of British Columbia invested $1.3 million in a direct current (DC) fast-charging infrastructure in 13 communities throughout the province along the Highway 99/Interstate 5 Corridor, which means that people will eventually be able to drive their electric cars all the way from San Diego, California to Whistler, B.C, knowing that they can charge their electric vehicles along that entire route.

UntitledFollowing the above trends, interprovincial networks and corridors of electric vehicle charging stations have already begun to appear elsewhere in Canada: since 2012, Saskatchewan-based Sun Country Highway has installed more than 1,000 (slower) Level-2 Chargers across the country (for drivers of range-limited battery electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and the KIA Soul EV).

A few years ago, the Province of Manitoba published its own manifesto concerning this impending revolution, a document titled ‘Manitoba’s Electric Vehicle Road Map – Driving Towards Fossil Fuel Freedom.’ In that document, the province indicated that it will facilitate partnerships with automakers, electric technology providers, Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba companies, academic institutions and others to raise public awareness of electric vehicle technologies.

Winnipeg’s world-class New Flyer Industries is already leading the way in the area of mass transportation, having set the industry standard with its Xcelsior hybrid bus, and it is only a matter of time before cities begin turning their attention to these vehicles in ever-increasing numbers in their quest for more efficient, non-polluting vehicles for their fleets of mass transit buses.

EVs an additional solution to transportation-related GHG emissions

In Canada, approximately 25% of GHG emissions are caused by vehicular traffic of one sort or another, and in Manitoba that figure is as high as 30% or more.

New government policies in both the U.S. and Canada are requiring that automobile manufacturers make their vehicles twice as efficient in terms of fuel consumption by the year 2025. As a result of this shift in transportation policies, the public is increasingly turning its attention to alternative choices in matters of personal transportation options, including hybrid, hybrid plug-in and fully electric vehicles, since more EV models are becoming available on the market as automakers look ahead to meeting new emissions regulations.

According to Manitoba’s CrossChasm Technologies, which has already worked with Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Public Insurance in matters related to EV technologies, “Plug-in vehicles have the potential of reducing GHG emissions by 60-99% relative to a comparable petroleum-powered vehicle and on their own offer tremendous efficiency potential for the transportation sector.”

Since electric vehicle fleet size would not be as much of a concern in the way that conventional vehicles are cost-wise in terms of fuel consumption, EVs could very well present interesting alternatives and opportunities in matters of transportation for rural municipalities wanting to upgrade their municipal vehicle fleets to more sustainable modes of transportation.

Eco-West is also very interested in the possibility that this could represent concerning the potential for additional reduction rates of GHG emissions in municipalities, especially those that wish to create an inventory of GHG emissions and develop local action plans as participants in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program.