meeting report

EV2011VÉ Toronto - The End of the Beginning

Toronto, ONT Canada

September 26-29, 2011

  • Nigel Fitzpatrick
  • Azure Dynamics, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Electric drive is penetrating the vehicle market and this conference in one of North America’s larger cities shows the accelerating pace. With 450 attendees, including 40 media, EV2011VÉ, the Canadian national electric vehicle conference, was nicely located at Toronto’s Allstream Centre within sight of a 750kW wind turbine that has been in operation since 2003 and is claimed to be the first such device to be installed in an urban setting in North America.

At EVS9 in Toronto in 1988 the late Councilman Marvin Braude from Los Angeles hoped that electric vehicles would reduce smog causing criteria air contaminants. There followed the California mandate for zero emission vehicles or ZEVs. Arriving for the start of the second day of EV2011VÉ by clean electric trolley bus from my hotel, I had the luck to meet David Hurst, a senior analyst with Pike Research from Boulder, and the opening speaker in the Plenary Session: Electric Traction in Various Transportation Modes.

David Hurst spoke of applications from e-bikes through to the Class 4 trucks being sold by Smith and Navistar. Given the incentives in place he expected that plug-in trucks will outsell natural gas in 2015 with batteries almost exclusively Li-ion.


Brad Oldham and the Transit Connect Electric Vehicle

Jonathan Ford, from Sentech Inc., then presented charts from A Comparative Study of Emerging Electric Vehicle Technology Assessment ORNL/TM-2010/299. This study showed the very wide range in projections that can be obtained for both market penetration and environmental benefits. Given the quest at EVS9 it was amazing when, in answer to Nick Beck of Natural Resources Canada, Jonathon confirmed that he had found no recent study covering the tangible reduction of criteria air contaminants within an air shed.

The many studies Jonathan reviewed covered oil and greenhouse reduction but did not touch the ground level emissions that had begun the California quest for ZEV’s in the 1980’s. The emissions of fossil fuel vehicles has improved since those days but this scribe has to ask if the air quality barometer needs a gentle tap to see where best to place electric drive vehicles.

The plenary over, I went into Track 4 Session 2: Opportunities for EVs and the Actors/Actions Needed, to catch a talk by Bob Oliver the executive director of Pollution Probe. Bob presented Actors and Actions: Who Plays What Role in Mainstreaming EV Technology? He discussed grid simulations and emission factors. Personal electric vehicles required power utilities to interact more with the vehicle manufacturers than the oil companies have needed to.

Then springing to Track 1 Session 3: Experience of Canadian and Other Demonstrations to Date I caught the end of Police and EMS Idling Reduction Project in time to hear Allan King describe how cool it had been to do highway tests in a police cruiser!


George White and Chris Whitney in the Aerovironment booth.

There followed Bradley Oldham of Azure Dynamics presenting A Retrospective on the Transit Connect Battery Electric Vehicle Design, Eh! Brad told how Canadian engineers had guided the Ford Transit Connect Electric to production from the project launch in September 2009 to serial production in April 2011 in the U.S. and in the UK by June 2011. The west coast time zone was good for linking in the process of supplier qualification with components coming from Asia, North America and Europe. End of life directives for all components had been adhered to and documentation included material recycling codes.

Then Ian Whittal of Transport Canada presented Overview and Analysis of Transport Canada’s Laboratory Testing, Track Testing and On-road User Evaluations of Several Battery Electric Vehicles in Canadian Climate Conditions. Ian described vehicle tests done from 2010 to 2011 on battery electric vehicles including the IMiev from -7°C to -18°C. He noted there was little range reduction going down to low temperatures unless cabin heat was used. Then the range reduction at -7°C was 40% and at -18°C it was 50%. The average daily commute of the selected drivers was 60-80km, 80% of these drivers recharged their vehicles at 50% SOC, 95% were satisfied with the comfort. Few drivers were concerned about range or highway speed, but 40% commented on lack of cargo space. Charge cord malleability was reduced in cold temperatures and Mitsubishi was correcting this before product launch.

Angelo Giumento of Hydro-Québec concluded the session with an Update on the Largest EV Demonstration Project in Canada. With 98% of their generated 36,671MW emitting neither ground level nor greenhouse gas emissions, Hydro-Québec is accelerating the introduction of electric vehicles, having been involved in EVs along with battery and motor development for more than two decades. Angelo described the experiences gleaned from a number of drivers of 50 electric vehicles, including five drivers of the IMiev who had had both Level 2 home chargers and access to Level 1 charging at work where they had been able to charge for 6-10 hours per day. Eighty five percent of charges of the main fleet had been done before the 70km point and these could all have been done with Level 1 charging. Less than 5% of charges were full charges. In the winter, 86% of drivers had been satisfied. The average range had been 80km at -15 °C. There was no reduction in use on cold days compared to warm days.

After lunch in Track 2 Session 3, I heard: Will the Vehicles and Components Be Made in Canada? Should They Be? François Adam and Jean-Pierre Legris of Itaq, QC, Canada showed focus with Made in Canada, It’s Possible! Montreal-based LITO Green Motion is building the Sora, an electric bike with a claimed 300km battery range, a 200km/h top speed; CVT transmission, regenerative braking, carbon fiber fairing and aluminum chassis. François described a no-compromise, high performance and high end electric bike for which orders were being placed With one of their partners being Alcoa Innovation, the potential for global propagation is there.


Sandy Di Felice of Toyota Canada

Ken Bondy of the Canadian Automotive Workers Union then presented Made in Canada EV’s for The Future. The CAW is a founding member of Electric Mobility Canada and Ken gave a solid presentation which endorsed and welcomed the arrival of electric vehicles.

John Scott of Project EVE, ON, Canada spoke on the topic Will the Vehicles and Their Components Be Made In Canada? John described an open consortium approach to the ongoing development and enhancement of electric vehicles and components for both fleets and the personal vehicle market. Companies across Canada are collaborating. John hoped that governments would collaborate with funding.

Christian Bélanger, who leads the Advanced Materials Design team at the National Research Council of Canada facility in Boucherville, Québec spoke on the topic NRC Bio-Sourced Material and Composite Manufacturing Program for More Environmentally Friendly Vehicles. Christian spoke of the gains in vehicle range offered by vehicle weight reduction. He described an achievable goal to produce vehicle composites with resin from a biomass source. The specific work is being done by the Magna-NRC Composites Centre of Excellence

Then to Track 1 Session 4: Fleet Preparations for EVs where Terry Kimmel led off. Terry is from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. With The Canadian and Global Status of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Commercialization, Terry reminded us that a fuel cell vehicle is a hybrid electric vehicle and very dependent on developments in batteries and other electric vehicle components. Terry then summarized the fuel cell vehicles deployed around the world and invited us to the 19th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in June 2012 in Toronto,

Ben Marans of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund then presented Fleetwise EV300: Making EVs a Part of the Climate Solution for Fleets. There are 14 Toronto area fleets with 60 vehicles between them already The vehicles in place include not only passenger EV’s but 14 Transit Connect Electrics. There will be 300 electric vehicles of all types operating in 2012. Given that Toronto is North America’s fifth most populous city and challenged by its winter, this small step for fleets will be worth watching.


Ron Iocobelli of Azure

Glenn Durocher followed with Demonstrating EVs at Purolator. Their fleet includes 3,100 pickup and delivery vehicles and will include 586 medium duty hybrid electric vehicles by year end. Purolator has also examined both pure electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. The fleet is adding hybrids at the rate of 200 per year and Glenn said one day 80% could be hybrids.

Many reconvened that evening at the network event and award ceremony which, if in Toronto wondering where to go in the evening, was held at “Steam Whistle Brewing” at the John Street Roundhouse amidst steam locomotives. The company is nobly delivering beer in an electric vehicle in Vancouver. Networking energetically, I enjoyed a discussion on air cathodes for metal-air range extender, a tour of the brewery and a good supply of food. There was much applause when a plaque presented to Serge Roy for his support of Electric Mobility Canada and his hard work on electric vehicles since the early 1990’s.

Wednesday began with the announcement by Al Cormier that Chris Hill, who had given for the city of Hamilton Fleets Begin Using Electric Vehicles, would succeed him in January as CEO of Electric Mobility Canada. Then Al introduced the plenary session: The View from the Campus where the moderator Ross McKenzie of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), introduced the work of graduate students from three local universities – McMaster, UOIT and Waterloo.

The conference adjourned to the trade show to see vehicles from General Motors, Ford (Azure), Nissan and Mitsubishi and some of the companies competing to produce the Level 2 chargers the vehicle OEM’s are endorsing. These included Eaton, AeroVironment, Schneider Electric and SPX. Then there were other exhibits including low speed vehicles from a Burlington company AGT ElectricCars and a NEMO electric utility vehicle from Vehicles Volt-Age Inc. Battery recycling was not forgotten. I met with Kathy Bruce of Toxco Waste Management Ltd. which recycles batteries of all chemistries at locations across the U.S. and Canada. I met Matt Stevens,, the conference technical chair, now wearing his CrossChasm Technologies hat with which he has been helping fleets make purchasing decisions. Ontario government officials were there as were people from Québec ready to attract participants to the 2012 meeting which you will hear about at the conference close.

Then we reached the plenary OEM Perspective Session. Vehicle manufacturers were billed to be highlighting the vehicles “they will be offering to Canadians in the coming five years”. The panel speakers were accurately chaired by Peter Frise, scientific director and CEO of Auto21, a well funded network of excellence for Universities across Canada.


Peter Frise of AutoCar 21

Ron Iacobelli of Azure Dynamics showed how electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid products across the Class 1c to Class 5 size range were being offered or being developed on Ford platforms. For example, an E450 plug-in hybrid was being designed for an electric range of 10 to 20 miles and Level 2 charging.

Steve Ross, Ford Motor Co., followed with an update of Ford’s EV strategy which described for 2012 the Fusion, Escape and MKZ Hybrid Lincoln, the Transit Connect Electric and the Focus Electric. The latter, Steve said, would have a 23kWh Li ION battery and be chargeable in three to four hours at 240V at 32 Amp. And a fifth electric drive vehicle would be offered in 2013.

Matt Crossley, General Motors of Canada, described how people drive the Chevy Volt, saying that by September 1st 81 Volts had been delivered in Canada. People were driving 66% of miles as electric, going 1,000 miles and one month between fill ups. A Level 2 charger was resulting in the best option for pre-heating the car.

David Murphy, Mitsubishi Motors Canada, covered the IMiev which has been trialed in fleets here, as you will have seen from the Transport Canada presentation, and is arriving as a purchasable product at the end of 2011.

Ian Forsyth, Nissan Canada, said that 35 Leafs had already been sold in Canada with the purchase price around $30,000 in Ontario and Québec and would be $38,000 where there are no incentives. The driver’s display had the added feature, he said, that as you used electric drive it showed how many trees you were “growing” and linked a website where you could compete on this with other drivers. Ian spoke of the Infiniti hybrid being launched and a future compact commercial van for local delivery that would be electric. He fully expected that electric vehicles would reach a 500km range in time. He showed a slide of a EV sports car with a 240km range and touched on carbon fiber bodies. EVs he said would be a viable part of the consumer vehicle market in 2020.

Sandy Di Felice, Toyota Canada, spoke of the appearance of the Prius in Tokyo as the Kyoto Protocol was being signed in 1997. There were now over 3.3 million Toyota hybrids. The 2012 Prius plug-in hybrid had debuted at the Frankfurt show with a 24 km electric range. It had a new light battery that would fully charge in three hours at 120V and 1.5 hours at 240V. The charging cord did not stiffen in cold weather. Toyota was also doing a small EV and was reintroducing the RAV4EV jointly with Tesla. Sandy spoke of production in Woodstock, Ontario and said that 50% of the RAV4 EVs produced in 1997 were still in service. Wandy also spoke of a FCHEV planned for 2015 as well as Toyota-Ford partnership trucks.

The panel took questions. Ron Iacobelli said it had been found less expensive to introduce electric vehicles to dealers in North America than Europe due to the already extensive training at dealers in the maintenance of hybrid vehicles. Ian Forsyth said Nissan had been working with Li-ION back in 1992.

The freshly re-elected Electric Mobility Chair, Mike Elwood, thanked Al Cormier. The speakers and the organizers especially thanked Ian MacIntyre and Nick Beck of NRCan for their support and then introduced Angelo Giumento of Hydro-Québec. Angelo welcomed all to attend the sequel to this conference in Montréal, Québec in October 2012. It’s theme is The Business of Going EV.

We can reflect again on the sharp contrast between the 1988 Toronto conference, EVS 9, and this present one. Compare the two titles of the paper given by Chris Hill in 1988 and 2011. Chris’s 1988 title was Will Business Fleets buy Electric Vehicles? and the 2011 title was Fleets Begin Using Electric Vehicles. Real-life cycle battery and component costs have now reached a tipping point that will allow electrically driven vehicle use to grow in niches that may overlap and become a continuum. Looking forward we can see the 1988 ground level air quality goal being attained as well as exceeding the oil and carbon reduction wishes evidenced in the primarily U.S. studies reviewed at this conference.

Toyota’s successful launch of the Prius in Tokyo in the same month as Kyoto Climate Change Conference may yet turn out to be a good omen for our ability to tackle environmental issues. Perhaps I can be pardoned for borrowing five words from Winston Churchill and say that electric drive vehicles are at “the end of the beginning.”