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Canada-wide EV tour to educate residents, building owners

Wyse Meter Solutions Inc. and EVSTART are sponsoring a nationwide 6,500-kilometre electric vehicl...

IMAGE: The EVSTART Coast to Coast team

Members of the Charging Coast to Coast Tour, what Wyse Meter Solutions CEO Peter Mills refers to as ‘the Drive Team.’ (Courtesy Wyse Meter Solutions Inc.)

Wyse Meter Solutions Inc. and EVSTART are sponsoring a nationwide 6,500-kilometre electric vehicle (EV) tour to educate apartment and condo residents and building managers about EV technology, charging infrastructure and Canada’s emissions reduction plans.

Stopping at over 40 multiresidential buildings, the tour — Charging Coast to Coast — began in Langford, B.C. and will finish in Halifax at the beginning of October. Stops at each site last about four to five hours.

“As an environmentally friendly organization that’s trying to electrify and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have a duty to make sure that we’re focusing on the education and awareness part of our business as well,” said Wyse CEO Peter Mills.

Wyse, based in Concord, Ont., provides sub-metering, EV charging and utility expense management solutions.

Mills states 80 per cent of EV charging takes place at home.

“So we designed an education program that would really give residents a strong awareness about electric vehicles and how to go about getting them charged at their residence,” he continued. “We thought the best way to do that was to really give residents across Canada a hands-on experience.”

EVSTART, founded in 2021, began as a collaboration between Wyse and the Whitby, Ont.-based energy supplier Elexicon Group.

The company focuses on helping real estate owners and developers address EV charging infrastructure challenges. Mills said the partnership has been “extremely successful” in attaining federal incentive money for its clients and “installing thousands of EV chargers in multiunit residential buildings across Canada.”

The tour has made several stops in Vancouver, and will include Calgary, Edmonton, Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal among many others along the way to Halifax. The full itinerary can be found at the tour’s site here.

Charging Coast to Coast

The tour will allow residents to learn the EV basics: how they work, how to charge the vehicles, the associated costs, savings and incentives.

It will also allow those attending to test drive a vehicle. The two Tesla Model 3s are cleaned after each stop on the tour.

According to Mills, the majority of the building managers were receptive to the tour, though some expressed concerns about the rapid adoption of EV chargers. However, part of the education portion of the tour will focus on the idea that “you don’t need to outfit 100 per cent of your parking spots with electric vehicle chargers today, you can start off with a small number that meets the demands and requirements of your current residents.”

The national journey grew out of a much smaller tour which EVSTART attempted to get off the ground in Ontario a couple of years ago.

“There’s still a very small percentage of electric vehicles when you look at the overall percentage in Canada,” Mills said. “So we think now is the right time to be creating and generating much better education, so that the adoption of electric vehicles and EV charging can happen faster.”

The future of EV education

In Q1 2022, EV registrations in Canada hit the highest number ever in a single quarter; 5.8 per cent, up from 4.2 per cent in Q4 2021.

Via the federal government’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP,) $680 million will go toward funding 50 per cent of project costs up to a maximum based on charger output, from $5,000 for 19.2 kW (and under) chargers to $100,000 for 200 kW-plus chargers.

For EVSTART, the tour is just a beginning.

“(EVSTART’s) main goal is the deployment of EV charging infrastructure across Canada, in multi-residential, commercial, municipal and fleet organizations. That’s our main focus,” Mills said. “We have already started to develop new education programs.”

One involves deploying EVs to high-traffic areas like colleges, universities and multi-residential buildings and allowing people to rent them at a minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour basis.

EVSTART is also working on a software development tool for large municipalities to allow them to quickly prepare financial modeling on the effectiveness of converting municipal fleet vehicles to electric — giving them the financial and environmental impacts of that conversion.

By 2035, the Canadian government’s goal is to have only zero-emission light passenger vehicles on the road. Mills is optimistic about what the collective “we” can achieve, but he knows there remains a long road to travel.

“We all need to start really thinking about driving to a net-zero, carbon-neutral economy and it is going to be a life-altering change for many of us,” Mills said. “But without that change and without that collaboration and cooperation, we may not have a sustainable life available on this planet in 50 years.

“‘I’m an optimist that we can get there. I’m a little bit cautious until I see further action actually being taken at the ground level.”

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