Founding Chair, Electric Mobility Canada
It was around the year 2000, and I decided to dedicate the balance of my business career to sustainability. Back then, sustainability wasn’t a common lexicon in the business world, so I had lots of work to do to shape a space and launch the final road in my career.
At the time of my epiphany, I was in the transportation sector, I stayed there, but I shifted gears. I began the promotion of decarbonizing on-road vehicles — HEV, PHEV, and EV — all in the commercial classifications. However, the knowledge gained through development and application was second to none. Many naysayers then and even today said, “I was beating a dead horse.”
In 2005, while holding down a job, Al Cormier and I founded Electric Mobility Canada, and to this day, I remain Founding Chair. For seven years as Chair, we tried to get things rolling, and we had some wins, including the green license plate program in Ontario, the Commercial HEV incentive program, and a few others. Still, our crowning achievement was the 2009 Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap (EVTRM) for Canada. So let’s take a ride on the roadmap.
The EVTRM vision was simple — 500,000 plug-in capable four-wheeled vehicles on the roads of Canada by 2018. A tall order perhaps, but we failed to meet it. Why? The simple answer is that people fight change.
Regardless of empirical evidence, we somehow think it won’t affect us, which is so wrong and very selfish. Behaviour change can be a good thing, and the old saying of teaching an old dog new tricks is also fulfilling when the new trick makes the world a better place.
My objective is to point out the beauty of driving electric and to let all of you know that if you’re getting into this space, you need to be authentic and true — drive an EV, learn what it’s like to have a vehicle that allows you to fill up at home, to venture out, and drive saving the world, it’s invigorating.
So, you say, “hmm, but the charging takes too long,” true, but that will change and has changed since I drove my first electric vehicle in 2007, the Transit Connect Electric; we plugged it into the wall for almost three days and got 120 kilometres of range at best. Today, I plug in my IONIQ 5 for five hours at a Level 2 charge of 7.7 kilowatts, and I’m rewarded with a range of anywhere from 450–550 Km, depending upon the time of year. Ah yes, the next objection — reduced range in the colder months, correct? No different than the internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles, but this is not something our behaviours identify because we’re conditioned to see the end of our nose and sometimes no further.
Let’s spend a moment on charging. This is the largest piece of the puzzle. The vehicles are coming, so how do we change the technology and not disturb our comfortable way of life, even if it is very expensive? Home charging is a gift, destination charging is evolving, and HUBS will soon become part of the solution. The formula for success is to build out a place that offers value and the ability to charge and “chill,” as well as a new solution for those who do not want to own any vehicle. HUBS for storage of EVs, as well as having other amenities, will transcend the market. What does this mean, and why is it so vague? Simple again, they don’t exist as we sit here today, but they are coming, and yes, the naysayers persist.
We must change to evolve; the buggy whip and the blacksmith all went away, and so will much of what we know today when it comes to the traditional service station. EV drivers and people, in general, will adopt things that are made to improve their lives and life in general. So as HUBS appear and the ability to charge in less than 15 minutes is an option, driving from Toronto to wherever in an EV will be easy. Right now, it is completely doable, but you must plan your trip if you own an EV. As Energy Hubs become commonplace, the shift to electric or sustainable transportation will help bring many to a cleaner, decarbonized form of mobility.
I have been an advocate for Electric Vehicles and am optimistic about the future of electric traction on and off roads. If you are jumping into the space because you believe in it, then you need to become part of the solution and drive electric. We require change-makers in the world today, and starting in a positive way will help in a much larger way. One person who changes will impact many.