Cleantech Market Intelligence
Canada Takes EV Charging Station Plunge
Canada has lagged behind the United States as a plug-in vehicle (PEV) market, both in terms of PEV availability and sales. However, as reported in the Pike Research Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts report, all Canadian provinces are expected to have some PEV availability by 2013, and the country will experience a growth spurt in PEV sales over the next few years. Pike Research projects that most sales of PEVs will occur in Canada’s largest cities, with Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver anticipated to have the highest concentration of PEVs. (Tesla made a splash by recently opening its first Canadian dealership in Yorkdale, Toronto.)
In anticipation of increased PEV sales, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are each funding deployments of electric vehicle charging stations:
Quebec’s Circuit Electrique is the first to get EV charging equipment out and ready, with this program sponsored by Hydro Quebec. The Circuit Electrique will feature a network of 120 public charging stations; as of December 2012, over 100 were in operation. Drivers pay just $2.50 per charge, no matter how long the car stays, although the program’s operators anticipate that PEVs will not park at the stations for too long, something that has been a problem with some public charging spots in the United States. Drivers access the units with a prepaid card. The charging stations use Aerovironment hardware. For now, the stations are concentrated in greater Montreal and Quebec City.
Earlier this year, the British Columbia government launched an extremely ambitious program to support deployment of 600 public EV charging stations by April 2013. The province will provide a rebate of up to C$4,000 (US$4,036) for570 Level 2 chargers and a C$25,000 (US$25,230) rebate for up to 30 DC chargers. The stations must be available for public or fleet use and networked. The province expects to collect data from station usage, much as the DOE has from the Ecotality and Coulomb chargers funded by U.S. stimulus money. Installation is to be completed by March 31, 2013.
The Ontario government is providing C$80 million (US$81 million) for public EV charging deployment. The government is awarding funding based on an RFP process. In addition, the non-profit Plug’nDrive Ontario has partnered with Hydro Quebec to support EVSE buildout across the two provinces.
In some ways, Canada is now going through the same phase of the EV charging equipment market that the U.S. did a few years ago, when the DOE launched its initial EV charging programs. While this helps ensure the availability of public charging to support the emerging PEV market, it also has a distorting effect on the EV charging market, as manufacturers end up focusing on the government-fed demand, thus delaying the task of finding a true business case for public charging. The United States is exiting this phase now, and equipment manufacturers are being hit with the cold reality that companies are much less likely to deploy a station for public use when they have to pay full price. Companies in Canada should take heed and make sure they look beyond this temporary market bump.