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electric vehicles : Innovation + Job News

5 electric vehicles Articles | Page:

Giving electric vehicle owners a charge

Electric vehicles have been on the market for three years in Canada. Enter Plug’n Drive, a not-for-profit whose mission is to accelerate the penetration of those vehicles into the consumer market.

One of the biggest challenges in encouraging potential car buyers to go electric is the so-far limited availability of charging stations: if you’re not sure you’ll be able to power up when and where you need to, an electric car can be a tough sell. Which leads to Plug’n Drive’s latest cause: increasing the number of charging stations in condo buildings.

“Essentially for the past 20 years Toronto has been going through a condo boom,” points out Josh Tzventarny, director of operations for Plug’n Drive, which is incubated at Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy. “Now about 30 per cent of Torontonians live in condos—none of which were designed for electric vehicles.”

For the past year or so Plug’n Drive has been working with Canadian Condominium iInstitute and the WWF to make recommendations for updates to the provincial Condominium Act, which is currently up for review and is likely to come before the legislature in the fall. The Condominium Act only enforces what happens after a condo has been built, however; the best Plug’n Drive is hoping for from new legislation is that it will include rules and guidelines for charging stations should a condo board decide it wants to install one.

“Where the real work needs to be done,” Tzventarny goes on, “is probably the building code—and the City of Toronto is starting to do some work around that with its green standards.”

In the meantime, Plug’n Drive is trying to reach out directly to condo owners and condo boards, making the case that retrofitting a building to include charging stations isn’t actually that a daunting prospect. (They issued a guide to installing them this past spring.)

“It’s really just an electrical job,” Tzventarny says. “It’s no different than installing an air conditioner or something like that.”

Plug’n Drive is also starting to field queries from property managers and real estate agents with clients who have electric vehicles, and prioritize charging stations when they go condo shopping—an indication, he believes, that this is "starting to become more and more of an issue."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Josh Tzventarny, Director of Operations, Plug'n Driv

Tesla opens first Canadian store in Yorkdale

When engineer Nikola Tesla died, it was as a penniless eccentric. Though he had attained wealth and recognition for his many technological breakthroughs and patents, later in his life he lost hold of those achievements as he pursued a great many further experiments.

Over the past decade or two, his reputation has undergone significant rehabilitation. Like many innovations, it turns out, his work faced several setbacks before it found a firmer footing. The car company founded in 2003 and named after him—Tesla Motors—makes electric vehicles, with motors based on his original designs. And earlier this month, Tesla Motors opened its first Canadian store to help showcase those electric vehicles. It's located, perhaps surprisingly, in a mall: Yorkdale, where it's part of the shopping centre's recent renovation and expansion.

Vice-president of worldwide sales George Blankenship highlighted that seemingly incongruous location choice in a press statement, explaining that Tesla's primary goal "continues to be focused on informing as many people as possible about EVs.... Customers in our store are invited to ask questions and engage with informative product specialists to learn more about the many advantages of driving an electric car."

It's certainly an education many of us lack right now—for the moment, electic cars remain novelties in Toronto. We are, however, slowly building up more infrastructure to support them. Charging stations are available in several locations across the city, and a city-run pilot project for several more is in the works.

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: George Blankenship, Vice-President, Worldwide Sales and Ownership Experience, Tesla Motors

A Don Mills showroom targets high-end customers with its low-emission electric vehicles

Fisker Automotive bills itself as a maker of the "world's first true electric vehicle with extended range"—and they're luxury cars, to boot. This month the company opened its first Toronto showroom, employing one staffer, with its Fisker of Toronto location at the Shops of Don Mills.

General manager Michael Cornacchia says that so far, customers have been very impressed to see the two models on display.

"It's been very positive. We've got a good mix of people, and I think they're just excited to see a car dealership in the mall," says Cornacchia. All Fisker vehicles are custom-made; Toronto customers can expect delivery within three months of ordering.

The cars boast high-end sedan performance with low energy consumption: "It can travel from  zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds," states the news release, "yet was recently given an astonishing emissions rating of just 51g/km CO2 by the TUV [an independent European inspection agency] and a 112mpg equivalency rating."

Shops of Don Mills marketing representative Lauren Genz says the Fisker location was a natural fit with the mall's concept. "It's a good pairing. We're re-thinking the retail experience and they're re-thinking cars as a sustainable luxury product."

The Fisker Karma—that's the model Justin Bieber got on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for his 18th birthday—will sell for $102,000 when it becomes available in the coming weeks.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Michael Cornacchia, Fisker of Toronto; Lauren Genz, Shops of Don Mills

Expanding R&D into electric car battery system creates 102 new jobs at Dana's Oakville operation

Just two years ago, a heat exchanger essential for the operation of lithium-ion batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles was developed in Oakville, Ontario, at the global battery R&D centre of Dana Holding Corporation. The exchanger is now featured in the Tesla Motors Sport, the Ford Focus EV and the Chevrolet Volt, as well as in new models from Hyundai and Kia.

Recently the company received a $2-million grant from the province of Ontario to fund ongoing development of such battery cooling systems, funding that the government and the company say will add 102 new staff to the company's existing team of 53. For its part, Dana expects to invest $37 million in expanding its Oakville research centre and its Cambridge, Ontario, manufacturing facility. It's also engaged in research projects with three Ontario universities.

"We're pleased to collaborate with the province of Ontario," stated Dwayne Matthews, president of the Power Technologies business at Dana, in a news release after the grant was announced. "Clean energy is a global need, and will require commitments from both public and private sectors to make alternative-energy vehicles more broadly available."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Lauren Tedesco, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Trade; Dana Holding Corporation

Electric car demo centre--and 8 charging stations--now open in the GTA

The California-based company Better Place, who promote the use of electric vehicles, officially opened their Toronto operations earlier this month.  As of March 4, the company is operating a electric vehicle demonstration centre at Toronto's Evergreen Brick Works in the Don Valley just east of Rosedale, where members of the general public can learn more about electric vehicles and see a sample of a charging station.

The project, which received $1 million in funding form the provincial government, also includes eight GTA charging stations that will mostly serve participating corporate partners for now, located in Barrie, Toronto, Bowmanville, Markham, Vaughan and Ajax.

Better Place's North American VP, Jason Wolf, says in a statement that this type of project is part of setting the stage for "mass adoption" as the first-generation of electric vehicles rolls off the assembly lines. "This project highlights some of the key building blocks to get there: government leadership; public education; and a smart network system that scales and delivers benefits to the grid, rather than strains it." In addition to the provincial government, Better Places is working with the City of Toronto and regional utilities in the suburbs.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: John Proctor, Better Place; Leigh-Ann Popek, office of the Minister of Economic Development
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