While the internal combustion engine (ICE) continues to be the main power source for road vehicles, the electrification of the automobile is well underway. Significant recent advances in battery, motor and electronics technologies have made it possible for automobiles to utilize electricity from the power grid. These electric vehicles (EVs) encompass a range of technologies and configurations with the two most common being:
- battery electric vehicles
- plug-in hybrid vehicles
Battery electric vehicle (BEV)
A battery-electric vehicle is powered only by an electric motor and battery, which charges by plugging into an electrical outlet or connecting to a charging station to store electricity.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
A PHEV is similar to a conventional hybrid – powered by a gasoline engine and an electric motor. However, unlike traditional hybrids, PHEVs have larger battery packs and can be recharged by plugging into electrical outlets or connecting to charging stations.
A hybrid vehicle is powered by a gasoline engine and one or more electric motors. Regular hybrid vehicles have no plug-in capability and rely on energy being captured while the vehicle is being driven to charge their batteries. Although hybrids do make use of batteries and electric motors, they are ultimately powered by gasoline and are not designated as electric vehicles (EVs) for the purposes of this website.
More and more automakers – including Mitsubishi, Nissan, GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Tesla – are manufacturing a variety of electric vehicles to suit different driving requirements. With technology improving and choice expanding, EVs deserve serious consideration as alternatives to traditional vehicles.
Is an electric vehicle (EV) for me?
More and more electric vehicles are entering the marketplace, as new and upcoming models are introduced by a wide variety of manufacturers. Here are some advantages EVs provide over regular internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. They are:
- cheaper to operate – Electricity is much cheaper than gasoline, especially for Manitoba, where electricity rates are among the lowest in North America. EVs powered only by electric motors and batteries also result in substantially lower maintenance costs, since they require fewer moving parts, no mufflers, catalytic converters or oil changes.
- cleaner – By literally plugging in to Manitoba Hydro’s system, EV owners help reduce harmful, greenhouse gas emissions. Their vehicles are powered by clean, renewable hydroelectricity, instead of the fossil fuels burned in traditional ICE-powered vehicles.
- good for the economy – Driving an EV lowers Manitoba’s consumption of imported fossil fuels and strengthens our energy independence. The province produces a vast amount of electricity, so dollars spent “fuelling” EVs contribute to Manitoba’s economic well-being.
Preparing for the Future
The Manitoba government supports the transition to electrified transport (transportation powered by electricity) and the reduction of fossil fuel dependence. The actions Manitoba is taking will ensure the province benefits from what could be the greatest energy revolution in 100 years – electricity-powered transportation. In the worldwide shift to cleaner transportation now underway, Manitoba has these electrifying advantages.
Manitoba Hydro is well recognized for having the highest percentage of renewable electricity generation in its grid-mix (98 per cent plus) in all of North America. With new hydroelectric projects on the horizon, we can even exceed that.
The right price
Manitoba has among the lowest electricity rates in North America. When it comes to plug-in electric vehicles, we will have the lowest- price electric “fuel” on the continent.
Manitoba has more than half-a-million plug-in points – in our homes, garages, businesses and parking lots – that accommodate Level-1 charging. This is a practical solution, in the near term, for plug-in electric vehicles used primarily for commuting shorter distances.
A habit of plugging in
Manitoba has a well-established plug-in culture for vehicles. Winter conditions in this province ensure that plugging in is nothing new for drivers.
Through a carefully considered approach that is right for Manitoba, the province is seeking the best ways to increase the availability, and speed up the use of, electric vehicles in our daily lives. This would benefit both the economy and our environment. Manitoba’s Electric Vehicle Road Map (www.manitoba.ca/iem/energy/transportation/images/
elec_vehicle_road_map.pdf) shows early actions by Manitoba on the road to electric vehicles, including:
Manitoba has engaged automakers, electric technology providers, Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba companies, academic institutions and others to:
- demonstrate real-world, EV performance and better understand how these vehicles perform in Manitoba’s climatic conditions
- promote business development opportunities in Manitoba to develop, test and, potentially, manufacture electric vehicle technologies
- raise public awareness of electric vehicle technologies
Electric Vehicle Advisory Committee
A multi-stakeholder advisory committee was created to provide recommendations to government on the best ways to prepare for, and speed up the use of, EVs in Manitoba. Government endorsed the Electric Vehicle Advisory Committee’s report – Realizing the Potential Of Electric Vehicles in Manitoba (www.manitoba.ca/iem/energy/transportation/images/
ev_advisory_committee_final_report.pdf). It contains 18 recommendations and covers five broad areas.
- education and awareness
- charging infrastructure
- consumer demand
- regulatory barriers
- economic development
Electric Vehicle Learning and Demonstration Centre
The Electric Vehicle Technology & Education Centre (EVTEC), created through a collaboration with Red River College and other stakeholders, will enhance Manitoba’s training programs to better prepare students for the future automotive industry. The goal is also to establish Red River College as a Canadian leader in EV testing and research (www.rrc.mb.ca/index.php?pid=8312).
Clean energy strategy supports electric vehicles
Manitoba’s Clean Energy Strategy (www.manitoba.ca/iem/energy/cleanenergy.html), which calls for less reliance on imported fossil fuels and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, supports electrified transport. It also identifies priority actions that build on Manitoba’s advantages in EVs. These priority actions include:
- expanding existing, and forming new, plug-in partnerships with automakers and other key stakeholders
- promoting at-home vehicle charging and some Level-2 public charging
- increasing EV use through expanded fleet procurement by the province, Crown corporations and others
- developing communication strategies to provide objective information to the public and businesses, to support informed decision-making on EVS from a Manitoba perspective
- launching public participation campaigns to speed up the adoption of new-generation vehicles (including EVs)
Shifting from gasoline to electricity in the decades to come will re-inject a rising share of the $1 billion in gasoline bills back into Manitoba’s economy. Electric driving will help convert Manitoba’s number one energy weakness (the import of expensive fossil fuel) to its number one strength (its wealth of low-cost, renewable electricity).
Manitoba’s electric bus project “showcase” for North America
The province’s electric bus project builds on Winnipeg’s reputation as the bus manufacturing centre of the continent – home to both New Flyer Industries (the leading manufacturer of transit buses) and Motor Coach Industries (the leader in inter-city buses). A showcase for North America, the project will develop and demonstrate an advanced, battery-electric, transit bus, and rapid-charge technologies, under Manitoba’s highly variable climatic conditions.
The $3 million project is incorporating battery technologies from Mitsubishi and attempting to validate the bus’s operational capabilities and act as a showcase for potential markets. Manitoba will continue to support the development of the electric bus, and work with partners to expand the project into a multi-bus, charging-system demonstration. The priority is on seeking value-added technology development and component manufacturing.
Manitoba Hydro stays current on EV technologies
At Manitoba Hydro, planning for the anticipated adoption of EVs is ongoing. This includes participating in trials with various manufacturers to ensure Hydro is adequately prepared to meet the demands of EVs and their owners. (www.hydro.mb.ca/environment/electric_vehicles.shtml)
Through memberships in national and international EV-industry organizations, Manitoba Hydro gains access to valuable research on common EV standards and industry practices. This knowledge is used to model the potential effects of EV charging on electrical systems. The result is a better understanding of what’s needed to support electric vehicles now and in the future.