TORONTO — Canada’s electric vehicle (EV) industry is about to receive a major boost with the announcement of an agreement between eCAMION, based in Toronto, Dallas-based Leclanche North America and SGEM, based in Geneva, to develop and install a network of 34 fast-charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway.
The project entails an investment of $17.3 million and is being partially funded by an $8-million repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada under the Canadian Energy Innovation Program.
With new technology to be used in the mid-Canada corridor, vehicles will be able to be charged in 20 minutes, in contrast to the six to eight hours required in older technology.
The partners have formed a public-private partnership, notes a July 20 media statement. ECAMION and Leclanche have formed a Toronto-based joint venture named FAST Charge Inc. to manage the project.
FAST Charge has already started work on demonstration units with a target completion date of December 2017. Manufacturing is scheduled to get underway in the first quarter of 2018 with installation of EV charging stations to be completed through the remainder of 2018.
The FAST Charge stations will be installed at 34 locations along the Trans-Canada Highway connecting Ontario and Manitoba, approximately 100 kilometres apart.
Currently, most public EV charging stations operate at Level 2, requiring about six to eight hours to charge a vehicle. This makes it cumbersome for EV drivers to travel long distances and contributes to "range anxiety," the statement indicates.
The new system being developed by FAST Charge consists of an energy storage system, using large-format lithium-ion batteries, along with multiple-outlet charging units that can charge several EVs at once.
The configuration helps overcome the slow-charge issue by acting as a buffer between the grid and the vehicle and allowing EVs to be charged rapidly from the batteries instead of directly but more slowly from the grid. This will enable faster charging at Level 3 and higher, allowing EV drivers to charge their vehicles in 20 minutes.
"Our system will recharge the battery storage units during off-peak times at considerable cost savings and reduction in stress to the grid," said Bryan Urban, EVP of Leclanche North America and president of FAST Charge.
Each charging station can be connected to a renewable energy source such as solar or wind to facilitate emission-free driving. As a demonstration, the installation at Highway 11 and Philip Creek Road in Ontario will be connected to a solar photovoltaic system, along with the grid.
The project is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2019.