EV charging confusion limits business adoption in Canada: Deloitte


A top concerns is whether to invest in private electric vehicle charging stations, or rely on shared infrastructure. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

A top concerns is whether to invest in private electric vehicle charging stations, or rely on shared infrastructure. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) (The Associated Press)

Figuring out the best way to charge a fleet of electric vehicles can be a major headache for businesses embracing lower emissions, according to new research from Deloitte Canada.

A top concern is whether to invest in private charging stations, or rely on shared infrastructure. Those looking to install plugs can wait years for essential upgrades, Deloitte says, while others may wait longer for utilities to complete bigger infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, data suggest more public charging infrastructure is needed to ease concerns about EV ownership.

“We’ve heard from a number of commercial fleets who are on their journey that infrastructure is the next hurdle that they need to think through,” Elizabeth Baker, a Deloitte partner specializing in fleet decarbonization. “They’re past the sort of range anxiety of, ‘Can the technology do what I need it to do?’”

Over 60 per cent of road transport emissions in Canada come from commercial vehicles, despite making up just 20 per cent of all cars and trucks, Deloitte says. Canada’s federal government is targeting 100 per cent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 for all new light-duty vehicles, and 2040 for medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

Nobody should really be diving into this aloneElizabeth Baker, partner, Supply Chain & Network Operations, Deloitte

Natural Resources Canada estimates just over a million EVs will be on Canadian roads by 2025, up from 203,150 in 2020. Experts have warned Canada is lagging when it comes to investing in grids to support rising demand.

Baker says businesses need to have a deep understanding of their routes, the duty cycles of their vehicles, as well as knowledge of available federal and provincial subsidies in order to make smart investments.

“Nobody should really be diving into this alone,” she said. “It’s going to require work with utilities, work with electrical contractors, work with strategists like ourselves, and incentive programs to really move this forward.”

Last October, Penske Automotive Group (PAG) flagged charging infrastructure as a key stumbling block for EV adoption. The Michigan-based transportation giant operates automotive and commercial truck dealerships in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe.

“I think it’s going to be a while before we get to a critical mass where the charging infrastructure really supports mass adoption of the vehicles,” Rich Shearing, Penske’s chief operating officer of North American operations, said on a conference call with stock analysts. “You got about [a] 20 per cent success rate of the charger being successful when you pull into it, which is pretty alarming when you think about it.”

The pace of technological change poses more challenges for businesses wary of being saddled with outdated electric vehicle technology.

Bi-directional charging, where vehicles act as mobile battery storage, is being explored in Canada. However, not all EVs are equipped with the technology.

At the same time, Tesla (TSLA) design chief Franz von Holzhausen confirmed in December that the company is looking into wireless charging for future models.

“We are working on inductive charging, so you don’t even need to plug something in at that point — just pull in your garage, drive over the pad and it’s charging,” he said during an appearance on the YouTube series “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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