The Power to Change
—— 2018, Mary Barra, Chair and CEO General Motors
In mid-January, 2020, Tesla Inc. achieved market capitalization of $107 billion, overtaking Volkswagen to become the world’s second most valuable automobile company after Toyota. Now, Tesla’s valuation exceeds that of Ford and GM combined. Tesla’s superlative success has changed the automotive industry forever. Even internal-combustion-powered icons like Mustang, F150, Hummer, XKE… are going electric.
In the true north, the total cost to own many battery-electric vehicles (EVs) is less than similar internal-combustion automobiles, because…
- battery-electric vehicle prices are half of what they were just a few years ago. The prices of most of these high-tech vehicles are comparable to those of the least expensive, gasoline-powered models from Infinity, Audi, Lexus, Volvo… ;
- compared to internal-combustion vehicles, EVs cost less to maintain. The average 4-cylinder, internal-combustion engine has over 130 moving parts to service and replace. Tesla’s Model 3 electric motor, dubbed the “million-mile motor,” has one moving part. A battery-electric vehicle has no filters, oil or transmission fluid to change; no radiator fluid to leak and nothing to tune up;
- the average EV uses about $350 worth of electricity annually. Many Manitobans save two thousand five hundred dollars per year or more on fuel, by switching to a battery-electric vehicle.
—— 2017, Government of Manitoba, Made-In-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan
No petroleum products are refined in this province. Every year, Manitobans pay billions of dollars to import gasoline and Diesel fuels, from other provinces and the U.S., to power their vehicles. But, Manitoba is capable of generating more than enough clean electricity to satisfy all of its foreseeable energy needs, including the electrification of every mode of transportation.
—— 2017, Government of Manitoba, Made-In-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan
According to the United Nations, to avoid irreversible climate change, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions had to decline 7.6% per year, starting in 2020. In fact, emissions are rising, on average, approximately 1.5% per year. In the 2017 Made-In-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, Premier Pallister declared, “Climate change is real and is already impacting us. It is being accelerated by greenhouse gas emissions… ” The Premier warned, climate change “poses a growing threat to how we live and work.”
Of all GHG sources in Manitoba, transportation emissions are rising fastest. Gasoline and Diesel engines produce 43% of the GHGs emitted here; most are exhausted by cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. Fortunately, drivers have many battery-electric vehicle models from which to choose. Accelerating the transition to these emission-free vehicles is the least expensive way to drastically reduce Manitoba’s GHG emissions.
In a 2019 Clean Energy Canada poll, 64% of respondents said that EVs should become the majority of consumer vehicles sold.
—-Fast chargers, “the ultimate accelerator for EV ownership.”
—— 2019, Mobility Foresights, market report
Battery-electric vehicles are usually recharged slowly at home, but on long trips they must be recharged quickly, at conveniently-located fast chargers. In this regard, EVs are not unlike gas-powered vehicles, which must be refuelled at conveniently-located gas stations. In less time than a driver needs to consume a hot beverage and a snack, a state-of-the-art fast charger can recharge a battery-electric vehicle with enough electricity to drive hundreds of kilometres. So, to enable Manitobans who drive long-distances to switch to fully-electric vehicles, fast chargers must be installed at a few dozen strategic locations throughout Manitoba.
The Government of Canada has been offering Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure grants to help fund wide-spread installation of EV fast chargers. In eight provinces, the provincial government and/or electric utility company have also invested in the expansion of access to fast-chargers, but not in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. Here are the number of communities serviced by universally-accessible fast chargers in each province. (Universally-accessible fast chargers are capable of recharging all makes of EVs.)
17 Nova Scotia
23 New Brunswick
6 Prince Edward Island
300+ Quebec, plans to install 1,600 more
100+ Ontario, plans to install 160 more, especially in rural/remote places
5 Manitoba, all but 3 are in communities along the Trans-Canada Hwy
79 British Columbia (several locations have multiple fast chargers).
Fast chargers are open in Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Winnipeg, Selkirk, Steinbach and Dauphin. With an investment of less than $4 million from Manitoba and a federal government ZEV infrastructure grant, the private sector could install fast chargers in these other 28 locations…
Emerson, Eriksdale, Fidlers Corner, Flin Flon, Gimli, Glenboro, Grand Rapids, Killarney, Lac du Bonnet, Melita, Neepawa, Overflowing River, Pilot Mound, Ponton, Prawda, Roblin, Russell, St. Claude, St. Martin Junction, St. Rose du Lac, Scanterbury, Shoal Lake, Sprague, Swan River, The Pas, Thompson, Virden and Winkler.
Access to fast chargers in these strategic locations would connect highway drivers in all regions of Manitoba to the extensive web of fast chargers, which has spread rapidly over much of Canada, the U.S. and parts of Mexico. Like city-dwellers, Manitobans in rural and more remote locations could drive emission-free vehicles, powered entirely by inexpensive, made-in-Manitoba electricity.
—— 2017, Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association report
Would widespread access to fast chargers really accelerate Manitoba’s transition to EVs? Over ten years ago, in Norway, a broad range of incentives, from various levels of government, greatly increased battery-electric vehicle sales – mostly in urban centres. In 2015, Norway started a program to expand its fast-charge network, not only in densely-populated areas, but in more remote regions, too. By 2018, 31.2% of annual new vehicles sales in Norway were battery-electric. By 2019, fast chargers were operating in every region of the country. That year, despite a reduction in incentives, 42.4% of annual new vehicle sales were battery-electric. In 2021, new battery-electric autos outsold new petroleum-powered autos (Diesel and gasoline) 11 to 1. Norway, Europe’s largest petroleum producer, is en route to end the sale of fossil-fuelled automobiles, by 2025.
—— 2017, Christina Bu, CEO, Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association
For many years, the Government of Manitoba has been encouraging investment in the petroleum industry with very generous subsidies through programs such as the Manitoba Drilling Incentive Program. Now, to reduce carbon emissions, the Manitoba Government should invest in the expansion of fast-charging to serve drivers in all regions of this province.
In the Manitoba Hydro 2017/18 & 2018/19 General Rate Application, one of the key reasons given for requesting increases in electricity rates is a “deterioration in expectations for domestic load growth… ” MB Hydro forecasts that is going to cause a drop in the utility’s revenues of about $110 million per year, by 2027.
The number of light vehicles (cars, SUVs and pickup trucks) registered in Manitoba is well over 800,000. That number is growing with our population. Because the average age of those vehicles is 12 years, we can expect Manitobans to purchase at least 100,000 new light vehicles by 2027. Given Norway’s success, it’s reasonable to expect that, if drivers had access to fast-charge stations throughout Manitoba, by 2027, at least 20,000 of those new light vehicles could be EVs. In Manitoba, the average electric-powered light vehicle uses about $350 worth of electricity per year. Therefore, by 2027, income from charging those 20,000 battery-electric vehicles would reduce Manitoba Hydro’s projected domestic revenue shortfall by over $6 million annually. Also, by 2027, electric-powered heavy vehicles like buses, garbage trucks, delivery vehicles, transport trucks, mining equipment, construction equipment will be widely available. Income derived from charging those electric vehicles would further reduce MB Hydro’s projected domestic revenue shortfall by millions of dollars per year. By 2030, all new vehicles purchased in Manitoba could be fully-electric, resulting in substantial domestic electricity load growth, which would add more than $110,000,000 annually to MB Hydro’s domestic income, thus eliminating the need for substantial domestic rate hikes.
The Manitoba Government Vehicle and Equipment Management Agency manages approximately 2600 vehicles, which emit GHGs by burning tens of millions of litres of fuel per year. Many of those fleet vehicles are driven much farther each year than the average family vehicle. Therefore, by switching to battery-electric vehicles, the fuel savings for these fleet vehicles would be two, three or more times the $2,500 per year saved by many average Manitobans who switch to EVs. Over the lifespan of these EVs, the fuel and maintenance savings would more than equal the purchase prices of these EVs. For instance,
- if a fleet vehicle is driven two times as far each year as many average Manitoba gasoline-powered vehicles, EV fuel savings would exceed $5,000 per year. Over eight years those fuel savings would exceed $40,000. Additionally, there would be thousands of dollars in savings, due to the battery-electric vehicle’s much lower maintenance costs. By switching to battery-electric vehicles, the savings accrued over the fleet vehicles’ lives would more than pay for the price of the vehicles. (Prices for some long-range battery-electric vehicles are less than $50,000. For example, the suggested retail price of a Chevy Bolt EV starts at less than $40,000.)
In its Climate and Green Plan, the Government of Manitoba declared its intention to “lead by example”. To accomplish this, the Government should mandate that all future purchases or leases of provincial government automobiles be battery-electric vehicles.
—— 2016, International Council on Clean Transportation white paper
In 2017, after warning Manitobans that our greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating the growing threat of climate change, Premier Pallister reassured us, “there is hope… We can gain jobs and economic opportunities by making smart investments in clean technology… “Clearly, the Premier was right; results in Norway prove that partnering with the private sector to extend fast-charging to all regions of Manitoba is the smartest investment our province could make. Investing less than $4 million would enable drivers throughout Manitoba to switch to emission-free, battery-electric vehicles. Facilitating the switch to EVs is the quickest and least expensive way to…
- eliminate millions of tonnes of Manitoba’s annual greenhouse gas emissions;
- grow a reliable, highly-profitable market for Manitoba Hydro electricity; and
- save Manitoba drivers $billions in gasoline and Diesel fuel imports, every year.