Alert to the allure of the long-distance road trip—and corresponding anxieties around electric vehicle range—Canadian governments, utilities, and automakers are working to support potential EV buyers by installing more public fast-charger stations along busy big-city connectors and more lightly-travelled routes in northern Ontario and on the Prairies.
With Volkswagen’s Electrify Canada powering up the Calgary-Vancouver and Quebec-Windsor corridors with a planned 32-station rollout, Petro-Canada adding 50 fast-charging stations along the wilder northern parts of the Trans-Canada Highway, and Albert-based utility Atco committed to build 20 stations across southern Alberta by the end of 2019, EV drivers will have less reason to fear being stranded at the side of the road with a dead battery, reports The Canadian Press.
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With a general capacity of 50 kilowatts, writes CP, the new stations “can recharge upwards of 320 kilometres of a car’s range in an hour, far faster than the overnight charging of the 6.6-kilowatt Level Two chargers that owners can install in their homes.”
Such a speedy recharge is intended to appeal to prospective buyers who have the long drive in mind: “We really felt the need to build a purpose-built network that can allow people to drive more than just in and around the city,” Electrify COO Rob Barrosa told CP.
While rapid highway charging certainly has a role to play in drawing Canadians to EVs, said Cara Clairman, founder and CEO of EV-focused non-profit Plug’n Drive, it will be investment in in-town charging stations, especially near condos and apartments, that really boosts adoption.
With EV ranges starting at around 200 kilometres, and a number of models offering at least 350 kilometres, overnight charging at home or at work will meet the needs of most drivers, she explained. What they may still lack, however, is a place close by to plug in.
“Canada already has more than 500 fast chargers as part of a network of more than 4,000 Level Two and Three charging sites tucked away in garages, parking lots, and behind buildings,” reports CP. But Clairman said installation is “complicated and expensive”.
The latest federal budget included financial assistance for EV charging, with the Trudeau government committing C$130 million over five years to bring charging stations into underserved communities.