As an electric-vehicle infrastructure pioneer, I have a first-hand perspective on EV adoption, infrastructure and evolving automotive technologies.
After six years of working to support EV adoption and infrastructure, the time is right to reflect on where we have come from and to look into the future.
Six years ago, Canadian roads were mostly home to some high-priced 300-kilometre range Tesla Roadsters. First-generation Chevrolet Volts were entering the market giving a glimpse of what was to come. Little to zero infra-structure existed to address charging needs and automakers were under scrutiny and media pres-sure, given the failure of EV1 electric car (production was halted in 2000), and corporate pressures to continue building traditional petroleum-based vehicles.
The next couple of years were a challenge; however, Tesla’s Elon Musk was persistent and research-and-development funding was also starting to flow toward EV development at Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford and others. Infrastructure was cited as the reason why consumers were not racing to dealerships. When the Toyota Prius appeared in the late 1990s, consumers needed to see real-world proof that these vehicles could tackle cold weather, perform in all conditions, and save money. The Prius is now the best-selling hybrid of all time.
Looking back, 2012 was a turning-point year: Tesla Model S made its triumphant debut, smashing safety records and preconceived notions about EV performance and aesthetic. EVs could be fast, luxurious and pleasing to the eye.
In six years, Sun Country Highway created an EV charging network across Canada, one of the most climate and geographically diverse countries in the world; Hydro Quebec was investing in infrastructure; Tesla started to install superchargers across main arteries in the United States and Canada. The signs were there and momentum was building.
Fast forward to today and we see almost every automaker launching EVs into the marketplace and charging infrastructure is in place in virtually every major city in North America. Carbon-tax avoidance and environmental campaigns are moving governments to cleaner transit options.
Tesla’s Model S won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year and the Chevy Bolt has a 383-kilometre range. It’s a marvel at an every-day person’s price tag. As I look forward, I see more progress and the rise of the electric car is now inevitable. As I stare into my daughters’ eyes, I feel better knowing that in the next few years we will have moved beyond our fears and embraced a cleaner, more sustainable future, one that embraces technology and the environment.