Developing and rolling out infrastructure to support electric and zero-emissions vehicles is relatively short timeframe in order to coincide with Quebec’s mandatory quotas for sales of plug-in electric vehicles could be a daunting task.
Quebec is scheduled to begin those mandatory quotas with a 3.5 per cent minimum for model year 2018 and increasing that percentages over the following years. More EVs and zero-emissions vehicles will require more charging stations.
So, a network of chargers and at least some hydrogen fuelling stations would need to be rolled out throughout Quebec — and perhaps the nation if a federal ZEV policy is also implemented — by 2020, when ZEVs would have to account for 15.5 per cent of sales in Quebec alone, to make electric vehicles more attractive to potential buyers.
Toyota Canada Vice-President Stephen Beatty said it is citicial for Toyota and other automakers to make sure early buyers of EVs are supported through infrastructure. By doing so, EVs could be more attractive to other buyers as word of mouth spreads, and they would become more practical as the infrastructure expands.
Toyota Motor Crop., the federal government and province of Quebec have been cozying up to each other as the sides sort out how exactly the province’s zero-emissions-vehicle (ZEV) mandate will work.
Toyota Canada and Transition Energetique Quebec said in September that they would work together to study building a province-wide hydrogen-fuel-cell infrastructure. The announcement came just days after Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada met with Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, in Quebec City to discuss the same issue.
GROWING A BACKBONE
“The way that we approach this is to ensure that the early adopters are supported, that we have the infrastructure in place to support their lifestyle,” Beatty told Automotive News Canada in an interview. “By encouraging that early-adopter community, you begin to create the backbone for the broader consumer.”
Toyota’s collaborative approach with the governments is part of a larger strategy to get ahead of the curve on electrification as Quebec rolls out its ZEV mandate and other provinces potentially follow, Beatty said.
“I think [the governments] have done a good job of bringing people together,” he said. “The question is, with all that stakeholder input, whether you can take all of it and make sense of it all.”
Collaborations with governments will be important to that effort, particularly when it comes to building a hydrogen infrastructure, Beatty said. Toyota is betting big on its fuel-cell technology in vehicles such as the Mirai, which can be refuelled in as little as three minutes.
“I think, as a society, we underestimated the impact that charging stations for electric vehicles will ultimately have,” Beatty said. “Substantial investments have to be made.”
Beatty said the issue of electrification has forced Toyota to rethink the way it sells cars, and its relationships with competitors. Toyota, for instance, is in a coalition with Hyundai and Honda to enlist the services of Fasken Martineau, a Canadian business that provides strategic advice in government relations, to lobby the government to invest in its EV infrastructure.
“It was a whole lot easier when it was just about getting somebody to buy your new Corolla,” Beatty said. “Now you need to think about things in broad, connected terms.”