The City of Kingston – Doing Electrification Right

In October the City of Kingston approved a new Kingston Electric Vehicle Strategy.  This document lays out a series of actions Kingston will take to reduce the council’s own transportation related green house gas (GHG) emissions and how they will help citizens and visitors do the same.

We have an interest how Kingston does this besides as a good example for the City of Ottawa to follow. We lived in Kingston for several months in 2015 and 2016 preparing for our trip south on Kinship and we have a son studying at Queens so we visit several times a year.

The strategy addresses three “Target Areas”, let’s take a look:

Target Area 1 – Electrification of Municipal Fleet

Kingston is going to start with their fleet of cars and light commercial vehicles.  This a natural outcome of the current pricing and incentives available.  As older vehicles in this class come up for replacement, they will be replaced with EVs and Level 2 chargers will be installed. Later transit buses and other vehicle will come into play as options become available.  The City of Kingston is a member of the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC)  A consortium exploring options for electric buses in Canada, starting with a pilot project in York Region I suspect that Kingston will find that buses are available today that can meet their requirements.

Target Area 2 – Support Community Adoption and Use of EVs

Kingston has only a handful of charging stations today, although it is worth pointing out that on a per-capita basis they have more stations than Ottawa. Kingston is going to install 2 DC Fast Chargers and 25 dual level 2 AC chargers across the city.  This network will allow visitors and locals to charge in many handy locations.   There is a certain amount of “build it and then they will come” here, but the plan is sound and it will draw EVs to downtown which is under served today.  As visitors this is great for us, we have to charge in the West end today, well away from Queens, downtown and where our son lives.  Charging will be free at the Level 2 stations, the DC stations will be in the $10-15 range.

Kingston is also working on preparing the grid and having EV charging as an integral part of new builds for the City.

Target Area 3 – Support Municipal Employees Use of EVs

This target area is weaker than the other area, the City is planning on installing chargers for employees if there is demand.  For many Cities this is an area with real impact, hopefully Kingston will follow through on this.

Budget

Kingston’s initial capital investment in these programs is $796,000, representing 0.15% of the total 2018 budget.  If Ottawa was to allocate the same percentage we would be looking about $5,000,000.  Kingston is to be congratulated on their commitment, I will look to 2019 to see how their bus fleet electrification progresses.  Kingston spend about $82,000 per year supporting the operation of the chargers with cost reductions from fees reducing this over time.

As a Model for Other Municipalities

Using Kingston as a model is certainly valid for small-medium municipalities in Ontario.  The current provincial programs support the switch and similar sized cities could implement this strategy successfully.  Larger Cities can take much from the strategy, but it would need to be adapted to the larger organisation sizes involved.

Kingston is evidence that leadership and a relatively small budget commitment can go a long way to starting the process of reducing the GHG impact in a way that saves money.

 

Winter Driving in an e-Golf

We are in the midst of a cold snap here in Ottawa, colder than Mars according to the headlines.  The temperatures over the last week or two have been consistently very cold, with a few days not making it much above -20C.  We have had some snow and the roads have been challenging at times.  Electric Alice has behaved well, and here are some of our thoughts and observations.  We have only used the car in town at these temperatures so far, a longer trip will have to wait for another post.

Driving

We have installed good winter tyres, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2s, They are great tyres and perform well in all the conditions we have had so far. The R2 is designed for low rolling resistance and scores very highly in tyre tests.  We have found that the R2s are noisier than the summer tyres, but overall the noise level is not much worse.

On slippery roads, the traction control works really well, no torque-steer at all with really only the light on the dash to tell you what is happening.  EVs generally have good traction control as the motor is far more responsive than a gas engine. Under hard braking, the ABS works well, just like any other VW.

Regenerative braking seems to work differently if the battery is cold.  In warmer weather, we see about 50kW of regen in B mode and 100kW under braking.  With low temps, the regen seems to be much reduced, perhaps less than half of normal operation.  This is similar to driving with the battery close to 100%.  I suspect that the battery is being protected from some high current events.

Creature Comforts

Volkswagen have clearly put a lot of effort into making the e-Golf comfortable in the winter.  The heater is very powerful, keeping the cabin warm in temps well below -20C.  There is a combination of heat pump and resistive heating, with a total power draw of about 6-7kW.  When the car is cold and you turn on the heated seats, heat front and rear windscreens, the power draw sits at about 7.8kW, a huge draw. Once the cabin is warm, this seems to cycle between 4.4 and 6 kW at -20C.

On the cold days I have been using the preheating function to take the edge off, it is nice to reach the car across the large and windy parking lot at work and settle into a warm car.  It is a shame you can’t turn the seat heaters on with the timer, but they come on in a few seconds.

Range Impact

All this warmth has a big impact on range guess-o-meter (GoM) and the real range. We keep our car in our garage that sits at a few degrees above zero if it is -20C outside.  We see about 110 km on the GoM before we turn the car on, about 130 km when the car is on.

Just turned on in the garage

Driving around town is about the worst thing you can do for range in the winter, the draw of the heating systems does not drop as you sit in traffic, getting out of the car to run an errand lets the cabin cool down and you have to put a bunch of heat back in.  On Saturday we did about 75km in -22C temps with about 6 stops over the day, we got home with about 25km range, so 100km is a realistic range in these conditions. This was the only time I have experienced a touch of range anxiety in town, but when I thought it through, I know where the DC fast chargers are and we were never more than a few km from one so if we had gotten close to running out of electrons, I could have picked some up easily.

We use about 30kWh/100km at -20C, compared with about 16 kWh/100km in warmer weather. A lot of this is the heating but there is also some loss of range due to increases in rolling resistance due to road conditions and hysteresis of the cold tyres. Air resistance is higher in cold temperatures too.  Fossil cars are also much less efficient in cold weather, perhaps 30% or so.

The reduction of range really brings into focus the benefits of workplace charging.  If you have a longer commute, plugging in at work, with the option to preheat your car without using the battery is a big help.  Thankfully, the e-Golf does not have to be plugged-in to use the preheat function.

When we bought Alice, we did so on the assumption that we would rent a car for all long trips.  In warmer weather we have not found that necessary, but I think we would have to think hard about a long trip in the depth of winter.  On the other hand, in town, even in a cold snap we have a car that is warm, comfortable, easy and safe to drive on difficult roads and I have not had to stand in -20C for 5 minutes to fuel up.

 

Christmas Holiday in Europe

We spent the last couple of weeks visiting Germany and the UK to see friends and family.  Though this was not an EV related trip we did see some things of note.

In Germany we saw an e-Golf in a dealer showroom. We drove by on a Sunday so we could not check to see if it was sold or not, but it might point to better availability in Germany than we have here in Canada.  We saw a few EVs on the road, Teslas mainly.

We headed to the UK for Christmas with family.  We picked up my sister from Liverpool airport and on the way to my parent’s place we stopped at Burtonwood Motorway Services on the M62 between Liverpool and Manchester.  As with most services in the UK, Ecotricity has installed a pair of L3 chargers supporting CHAdeMO and CCS, with a side of Type 2 AC.  The standards as Renault has high power Type 2 charging on the Zoe, rather than the CHAdeMO of the Leaf, despite Renault owning a controlling interest in Nissan.  There is great video on how the Ecotricity chargers work here.  There is a new 8 bay Supercharger on the other side of the car park that is about to be commissioned.  Installing charging at service areas is an obvious and needed addition, sadly, despite all the service areas in Ontario being owned by the province, there has been no progress on this here.

The UK has fines for ICEing, which is great.  Quebec now has similar rules.

We saw our first electric bus in Manchester. Manchester has a free shuttle bus service in the city centre with at least 3 pure electric buses joining a fleet of diesel-electric hybrids in 2014.

Electric buses make so much sense, Shenzhen has a 16,000 strong fleet of electric buses, more cities should move away from diesel.

In addition to free electric shuttles, Manchester also benefits from the Brompton hire system.  For £3.50 a day you can rent a Brompton, which is a great deal. This dock is at Manchester Piccadilly rail station.  The Bromptons act as the last mile solution.

Seeing integrated transportation options like this in the UK, which has a far more complicated model with many private companies and funding agency shows how far behind we are in Ontario with a much simpler political landscape.

We rounded out our trip to Manchester to two monuments to Vimto, ruiner of many carpets and to Alan Turing, founding father of Computer Science.

A Response from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to our EV Program Review

I received the letter below from Jamie Austin, the Director of the Transportation Policy Branch MTO. The original letter is here, I have made the text available below and I have added links to the programs Mr Austin discusses.  I am very grateful to Mr Austin for taking the time to respond and I think he is offering some insights into how the Province will address the issues we see with the EV programs.  As a community we still have a lot of work to do to address some of the policy gaps.

Our review is here, I suggest you read it first if you have not seen it before.

 

 

Dear Mr. Eglin,

Thank you for your email to the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation dated October 5, 2017 and your emails regarding your review of Ontario electric vehicle programs. I appreciate your interest and enthusiasm for electric vehicles, and assure you that we share your ambitions for the electrification of transportation in Ontario. As a follow up to our brief discussion on these matters at the ITS World Congress in Montreal, I am happy to respond to you in greater detail on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation.

Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (EVIP) and Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive  Program (EVCIP)

I appreciate your positive feedback of EVIP and EVCIP, and acknowledge that there have been unfortunate delays in processing applications for these programs. While I am happy to report that demand for these programs has significantly increased over the last year, this led to a backlog in processing applications and making payments to program recipients. The Ministry of Transportation has recently committed new resources to the management of these programs in order to address both the current backlog and ongoing increased demand, and I’m pleased to say that this issue should be mitigated in the near future.

Electric Vehicle Chargers Ontario (EVCO)

EVCO was an application-based program that received an overwhelming response of over 200 applications. Applicants identified what they felt were good locations for the deployment of EV chargers. Because program recipients are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the chargers it is important that they themselves choose the locations, giving due consideration to the business plans under which they operate. Through the evaluation process, cost efficiency, appropriateness of the site and the number of stations per site were carefully considered, with a focus on the greatest possible connectivity of the network from among the eligible applications received.

As you have noted, there are a number of chargers that are planned under the EVCO program that are not presently listed on our website/program map. For a number of reasons, such as site conditions or host business decisions, some sites originally planned under the EVCO program have been determined to be unsuitable. In these cases wherever possible, EVCO program recipients have been proposing replacement sites to the government for consideration. These sites are added in to the EVCO map as they are approved for inclusion in the program. Where alternative locations cannot be found, projects will be modified to a smaller number of chargers/locations and the government will recover a portion of the funding that was allocated. The program is currently tracking towards the installation of nearly 300 level 2 chargers and over 200 level 3 chargers at approximately 250 locations across the province, and is currently two-thirds complete.

I note you have also observed some customer service issues with EVCO recipients. We do expect that EVCO recipients, and particularly operators of level 3 chargers, operate a 24/7 toll-free customer assistance number so that drivers can report outages and malfunctions, obtain assistance with point-of-sale and customer authentication, or to request assistance operating the charger. We are working with EVCO recipients to ensure they are meeting these expectations and we believe the issues that you have observed will improve over time.

Moving forward, we will be working to implement actions in the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), such as the rapid deployment of charging in government facilities, workplaces, multi-unit residential buildings, downtowns and town centres. CCAP includes up to $80 million over four years, for the continued deployment of EV charging infrastructure. We will be launching the first programming with these additional funds in the near future. As part of our program planning, we are monitoring the use of EVCO charging stations to better understand remaining service gaps. As we move towards our future plans, we will be sure to keep your suggestions in mind and welcome any additional suggestions that you may have.

I should also acknowledge the investments that the federal government is making in charging in Ontario, including projects under the Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative (EVAFIDI) and the Energy Innovation Program (EIP). We are also working closely with Natural Resources Canada to identify other opportunities for investment in Ontario.

Reduced Output Fast Chargers

Your observation about some level 3 chargers having reduced output in your review and your email addressed to Minister Del Duca is correct, as is your assessment about the root cause – that 50 kW is the threshold after which higher demand fees are incurred. This is in part associated with local distribution company (LDC) policies across the province, many of which will not permit secondary electrical services to a property for safety considerations. Accordingly, some EVCO recipients have reduced the total output of fast chargers to between 30 and 40 kW. Under a program like EVCO, the only alternative would be significantly fewer chargers or to have level 2 chargers installed. We understand your concerns about this matter and are currently determining the best approach to ensure that this information is communicated to the public transparently.

Cost of Charging

Recognizing that EVCO program recipients are responsible for all operating and maintenance costs of the chargers installed as part of their projects, the province did not specify the rate that would be charged by public charging stations. Fees are set by the owner/operator of the charger, and you will find a variety of fees across the province ranging from free to $17/hour, depending on the charging speed and other factors (i.e. parking included, etc.). We are monitoring the pricing for EV charging in Ontario at both EVCO and non EVCO chargers and reserve the right to intervene where the province determines fees at EVCO chargers are unreasonable.

With regard to kWh pricing for EV charging, there are additional regulatory considerations which fall under the authority of Measurement Canada, specifically under the Weights and Measures Act. The province of Ontario has had an open dialogue with the federal government on this through work related to the upcoming national Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Strategy, and we are monitoring the federal government for any regulatory changes or developments. Chargers installed as part of the EVCO program were required to have the capability to charge by kWh, so if and when these federal rules are changed EVCO recipients will have the flexibility to use kWh pricing if they choose.

EV Supply Management

Ontario has not opted to proceed with establishing a ZEV mandate, such as the approach taken in Quebec, as Ontario believes that a collaborative approach with a province-wide sales target that represents a collective goal will be the most effective approach. Through the Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Advancement Partnership (EHVAP), the province is working closely with automakers, unions and other interested stakeholders to ensure that there is an adequate supply of EVs available in Ontario to meet demand over the next few years. We are also monitoring EV policies from other jurisdictions, including Quebec, with a particular interest on any potential impacts in Ontario.

In closing, I would like to thank you again for your feedback on Ontario’s electric vehicle programs. We are continually looking for opportunities to improve and adapt our programming to meet a fast evolving sector. I believe that we share the same enthusiasm for electric vehicles and optimism for the potential they offer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and lower transportation costs for all Ontarians. Thank you for your commitment to the electrification of transportation in Ontario.

Sincerely,

Jamie Austin Director

  1. Darryl Soshycki, Manager, Sustainable and Innovative Transportation Office, Ministry of Transportation