Environmental and energy regulation in Canada becomes more stringent by the year, calling for change and new technology in all industries, especially heavy GHG emitters like transportation and hauling. In fact, in 2014 transportation was responsible for 23 per cent of Canada’s GHG emissions or 171 Mt CO2 eq. According to Transport Canada, between 1990 and 1994, passenger car emissions dropped 123 per cent while freight truck emissions grew 132 per cent.
If Canada is going to meet federal government promises to reduce emissions by 50 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030, it is going to take new technology and new thinking to get the job done.
Canadian manufacturer Canadian Electric Vehicles (CEV) has been designing and manufacturing electric vehicles and electric vehicle components for over 20 years, and has broken into international markets. Vehicles in service range insize from three-ton aircraft refuelling and LAV trucks to the Might-E Tug, an electric towing unit which tows a variety of carts and equipment weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
Its stand out product, however, is the Might-E Truck, a custom heavy duty electric utility vehicle built from the ground up using North American automotive parts, and with potential to save municipalities time and costs as downtown maintenance trucks or local garbage and recycling pickup.
According to CEV, Mighty-E trucks are road legal under Transport Canada regulations for Low Speed Electric Vehicles, and travel at a top speed of 40km/hr.
Might-E Trucks are electric powered, mid-sized vehicles designed for work with up to 1,500 pound load capacity. Available as a base chassis, cab and chassis, pickup box, flat deck, van, or customized for specific applications, Mighty-E Truck boasts durability, performance, and range thanks to steel and composites construction and 72V AC drive with regenerative braking.
The vehicles are in use all across Canada and the US for municipal service, airport service, park and trail maintenance, as university vehicles, and in other applications. Grand Forks, Coquitlam, Tofino, and Ucluelet are just a few municipalities using them for various work, and Alert Bay, on northern Vancouver Island uses one for recycling pick-up in the town and on reserve. Beyond that, the concept of using these small but powerful and efficient vehicles for waste and recycling has gained popularity faster south of the border.
Randy Holmquist owner of Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd. based in Lantzville, BC said there are a number of factors preventing ready adoption, at least so far.
“What I run into the most is fleet mangers used to big diesel powered trucks, and not really interested in a new [collection] concept,” he said.
The way it works in Banff, Alberta, Canada’s only municipality currently using one of CEV’s vehicles for waste pick-up, the electric truck collects by neighbourhood and dumps into a 12-yard bin behind city hall. When the bin is full, a big truck takes it to the transfer station.
“The other extreme is you have a regular garbage truck that goes from area to area picking up from the small trucks,” said Holmquist. “The small trucks are in a certain area, pick up and dump into the big truck, then move to a new area for a couple of hours.
“The small trucks go from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and the big ones come to collect from them.”
Canada’s resistance to take on a new model stems from a combination of factors, he said. The idea is unfamiliar, and change always feels like a risk. Fleet managers unfamiliar with the concept may not feel sure the technology is reliable, although Holmquist has been manufacturing and selling electric vehicles and associated technologies for more than 20 years. The upfront cost of these vehicles is about $40,000, so not unmanageable, and large, off-road tires keep them rolling in any weather conditions.
“Most Canadian winters are much colder than in the US and there is battery chemistry to consider, but we make and sell battery warmers, too,” said Holmquist.
The town of Ajax in southern Ontario uses CEV vehicles for municipal service, and uses battery warmers to keep the vehicles moving in all weather.
The US has, as least for the past several years, offered positive environmental incentives targeting off-road and commercial vehicles, which might explain their growing popularity in that country.
In early February, the government of BC announced $5000 rebates on commercial electric and alternately fuelled vehicles, which could cause demand for CEV trucks to perk up.
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett recently announced an investment of $40 million to encourage British Columbians to make the switch to zero-emission vehicles, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support investment in made-in-BC green technology.
“Zero-emission vehicles are clean, quiet, and reliable, and help drivers reduce fuel and maintenance costs and tailpipe emissions, and are a growing economic sector in the province,” said Bennett.
“Additional funding of $40 million for the Clean Energy Vehicle Program will help make zero-emission vehicles more affordable for British Columbians and build out charging infrastructure at residences, businesses, and along our roads and highways to make sure there are places to charge them up.”
The funding for the Province’s Clean Energy Vehicle (CEV) Program will be distributed over the next three years to support continued point-of-sale purchase incentives of up to $5,000 for battery electric vehicles and $6,000 for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. When combined with SCRAP-IT program incentives, total savings could be up to $11,000 for a new electric vehicle.
"There are all sorts of incentives for on road cars and but never for off road stuff,” said Holmquist. “I guess they needed to know the technology is viable and the vehicles are available.”
BC introduced the CEV Program in 2011 and has since committed more than $71 million for vehicle purchase incentives, charging and hydrogen fuelling infrastructure, vehicle fleet programs, public outreach, and research and training. To date, BC has the highest ratio of ZEV sales to non-ZEV sales in Canada with over 4,800 ZEVs on the road, and the largest charging network in Canada with over 1,100 public, Level 2 charging stations, and 30 fast-charging stations.
The next ten years will likely see big change for Holmquist and CEV as Canadian environmental regulation shifts in favour of the green energy and clean technology economy.
“It’s not rocket science,” said Holmquist. “When I started 20 years ago, people thought I was crazy and said, ‘Who would buy that?’ I guess I sort of thought it was the future and worth holding out for.”
Find out more at http://www.canev.com/.