Originally published on the ECOreport
Many aspects of A LONG HARD ROAD are refreshing. The authors correctly identified transportation as the source of half of Canada’s emissions increases since 1990 and an area where similar cuts can be made. They remind enthusiasts on the West Coast that, east of the Rockies, walking and cycling are not as feasible during the winter. This study has much to offer, but it seems the Conference Board of Canada does not see the EV potential.
Micahel Langezaal, of the European fast charging company Fastned, calls EVs computers on wheels. Unfortunately, they are still relatively high priced and often a toy for the rich.
In A LONG HARD ROAD, Allison Robins, James Knowles, and Len Coad assume the hindrances to this technology will remain in place for decades to come.
In reality, the next generation of electric vehicles already exists and is on the verge of being rolled out. Instead of using a model that suggests EVs that can be driven 16 to 64 kilometers, the authors should have been looking at 200 km and more. While it is true the infrastructure needed for a transition to electric is still limited, it will build out fast once the other factors for a viable electric sector are in place.
The Real Question Is When?
The real question is when will new EVs become price competitive with new gas cars? Once this happens, we will reach the tipping point, after which the electrics become the vehicle of choice.
Langezaal believes the transition to EVs will occur sometime in the next decade. This will start with new car purchases and gradually extend to the resale market.
The probability of this occurring is so strong that the real question is “when,” not “if.”
One of the problems Robins et al point to is congestion within our cities.
“Transport Canada determined that if all roads in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montréal had been able to operate at 70 per cent or more of the posted speed limit during rush hour, rather than just 50 per cent, GHG emissions in those cities would have been reduced by 1.2 million tonnes.”
So how can we get some of those cars off the roads?
Vancouver has almost reached its goal of walking, cycling or taking public transit for 50% of all trips within the city.
This is a feasible model where the winters are mild, but not as viable east of the Rockies.
Calgary, Ottawa, and Toronto are still car-centric cities. 77%, 65.3% and 64% of all trips, respectively, are made by automobile.
All three of these cities intend to increase the amount of non-automotive traffic.
“Calgary intends to limit the availability of parking in areas where “high quality” modes of transportation, such as light-rail transit or bus rapid transit (BRt), exist. Where parking facilities remain, the plan gives priority to “preferred parkers” that include carpool/car share participants, cyclists, motorcycles, and scooters. Ottawa intends to reduce the impact of surface parking by encouraging shared parking lots and the construction of multi-level parking lots, rather than single- level surface lots. Similarly, Toronto intends to limit the supply of non- ancillary parking and to encourage the sharing of parking spaces among uses that have different peaking times throughout the day.”
Example of a +200km per charge EV
These are excellent ideas which should be employed, but harsh winters are liable to ensure the automotive age endures longer east of the Rockies.
We need to develop an electric transportation network. Switching to a near emissions-free automotive sector does not solve all of Canada’s transportation issues, but it makes the road shorter and easier to travel.
Top Photo Credit: Parked in the middle of the road! (in Calgary) by Dhinakaran Gajavarathan via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License);Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane (Vancouver 2011) by Paul Krueger via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); 89 Bus – Orion VII Next Generation Hybrid-Electric (Toronto) by Diego Torres Silvestre via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Example of a +200 km-per-charge EV expected to cost $30,000 in the US (after federal electric vehicle tax credit) : 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV By GM – http://media.chevrolet.com/media/us/en/chevrolet/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2016/Jan/naias/chevy/0111-bolt-du.html http://media.chevrolet.com/dld/content/dam/Media/images/US/Vehicles/Chevrolet/Cars/BoltEV/2017/TechComponents/2017-Chevrolet-BoltEV-024.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46341789
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