A VW e-Golf electric car being charged: Research shows that “range anxiety,” the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of juice before the driver reaches their destination, is a major reason why more people haven’t embraced the technology. (FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
The federal government is hoping to blaze a trail for long-distance electric car travel by bankrolling a network of charging stations on the Trans-Canada Highway.
The $17.3-million project would see a private company called Fast Charge install 34 stations along 3,000 km of road spanning Ontario and Manitoba, and is being supported by an $8-million repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada.
“Canada recognizes the key role electric vehicles will play in reducing emissions from the transportation sector,” said Minister of Natural Resources James Carr, who is also the Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre.
“With more electric vehicles becoming available, we want to make them an easy choice for Canadians. This strategic investment brings us closer to having a national coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations.”
Most public charging stations in use today are designated “Level 2” and can take between six and eight hours to power a vehicle fully.
That makes long distance-travel in an electric car impractical.
But the stations being developed by Fast Charge, a joint venture between Toronto-based energy storage company eCamion and Dallas, TX firm Leclanché North America, would be designed to be at least “Level 3,” and capable of charging a vehicle fully within about 20 minutes.
That’s not all that far off the time it would take a driver to fill up the tank of a gasoline-powered car and grab a snack at the service station.
“We’re, in essence, enabling people . . . to drive now between cities with electric vehicles. I think that’s something that we didn’t have before,” said Elad Barak, vice-president of business development for eCamion.
According to Barak, the power grid in the mostly rural areas where the stations will be installed, isn’t normally robust enough to accommodate Level 3 stations.
What makes the charging stations the company plans to deploy unique is that they would include a large-format lithium battery energy storage system.
The batteries would store up energy in advance, enabling them to deliver a quick charge when an electric car driver comes along. They would be installed at 100-km. intervals along the highway, making long trips in an electric vehicle much more feasible.
Cara Clairman, president and CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit electric vehicle advocacy group, said that the proliferation of charging infrastructure is key to stimulating the widespread adoption of rechargeable cars.
Research shows that “range anxiety,” the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of juice before the driver reaches their destination, is a major reason why more people haven’t embraced the technology.
“People think about that when they purchase a car. They think, ‘Oh, what am I going to do if I want to go here or there, from Toronto to Montreal, or want to drive to Thunder Bay?,” she said.
“Even though that might only happen once a year, it’s something that’s on people’s minds.”
Although the network of fast-charging stations would be a first for Northern Ontario and Manitoba, there are unlikely to be long lineups at the electric pumps, at least in the near future.
According to a November 2016 report by the Simon Fraser University’s Sustainable Transportation Action Research Team, there were about 22,700 electric vehicles sold in Canada between 2011 and 2016, representing less than 1 per cent of all sales.
Just more than 7,200 electric cars were sold in Ontario, while, in all of Manitoba, there were only 125 bought.
“Let’s face it, these (stations) aren’t going to be overused,” said Clairman, who added that was much more demand for charging stations along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.
Barak said the choice of location for the project was made with the federal government, and Fast Charge hopes to expand.
“Obviously, we would have wanted to do all of the Trans-Canada Highway, but we’re starting with this part, and we’ll see what the future holds for us,” he said.
Fast Charge hopes to produce demonstration units of the charging stations by the end of the year. Manufacturing is scheduled to begin next year, and installation in 2019.
News article quoted from:
Spurr, Ben. “Feds plan to boost electric car travel with charging stations on Trans-Canada Highway”. The Star. July 22, 2017. Published at: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/2017/07/22/feds-plan-to-boost-electric-car-travel-with-charging-stations-on-trans-canada-highway.html