Is Ontario ready for the EV surge?
EV adaptation is growing at an exponential rate. While more EV chargers are becoming available, will it be enough to meet the growing demand?
Tim Short, CTO of Laszlo Energy Services shares his concerns about Ontario’s lagging infrastructure for the EV road ahead.
While I tip my hat to ONRoute for installing the charging stations (through Ivy and its partners) they have, there is so much more that needs to be done, and fast. While it may be tempting to breathe a sigh of relief that the company has deployed this tranche of fast EV chargers (DC), having studied the auto industry very closely for over 10yrs, I feel compelled to warn ONRoute that the level of efforts and investments to-date is grossly insufficient to meet the needs that are expected to arrive in just the next 2 – 3 years from now, however unobvious it may look today.
The rate of adoption of electric-powered vehicles is growing exponentially. While North America is trailing the two largest vehicle markets, China and the EU, it’s now catching up fast. While one may dismiss this as pertinent to ‘just new vehicular sales, and that there will still be a sizeable fleet of gas combustion vehicles on the roads for some time, the caution to ONRoute is that sales of gasoline fuel sales will inevitably start to decline soon and never recover again as electric vehicles continue to take over. This means that the main draw drivers have to visit the service centers will decline. If ONRoute doesn’t increase its electric charging infrastructure service capacity very soon and significantly, the operations are going to be in very serious trouble. Ditto for the businesses of the sub-tenants such as Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Burger King, McDonald’s, etc. The problem will cascade.
Yes, I do drive an EV and have done so for over four years so I understand firsthand the dynamics of the services out there. I’m fortunate in that my car company has its own very extensive charging network, so I’ve not had to rely too much on other service providers. But, if I may, here are my observations and suggestions:
- I have heard from good authority that the Ivy team installed the handfuls of DC chargers without putting into place potential excess electrical connection capacity to enable the ONRoute service centers to add more chargers as the demand increases. This is a big mistake and could prove to be a very serious problem. A mere 4x DC chargers at each of the centers will be far too few to meet the drivers’ needs in just a few years out. The US Federal Government, for instance, is pushing for highway service operators to have at least 15x fast charger stations at a minimum today with the infrastructure in place to expand at a moment’s notice.
- The power rating of the EV chargers that Ivy is installing is acceptable today (up to 150 kW), but it won’t be in another 2 -3 years I believe. >250 kW is where it will be shortly. Again, this capacity expansion I don’t believe is being built into the infrastructure at your stations. And 150 kW DC chargers are completely insufficient for the electric buses and trucks that are starting to hit the roads now. ONRoute needs to get ahead of this. Fastned, the Dutch company that builds and operates fast charger EV charger stations throughout Europe, has exactly observed this.
- None of ONRoute’s EV charging stations are protected from the elements as the gasoline and diesel pumps are. Hot sun, rain, wind, and snow provide EV drivers with a less than pleasurable experience. Why should that be the case??
- Signage on both the highway and the service centers’ respective campuses for the EV charging infrastructure is mostly non-existent. Having just driven to and fro the Maritimes as well as regularly to London and Kingston for my sons’ universities, I can 100% confirm these observations. There is no distinctive feature that aids EV drivers to find the charger stations you folks have had Ivy install.
I would be curious to know your thoughts. Nothing would please the existing EV community and the very large one that’s definitely coming more than to see ONRoute up its game in providing services to the electric powertrain future. And unfortunately, if the company doesn’t engage seriously right now to attempt to get ahead of what’s coming, other new service centers in and around the 400 Series Highways will have a good opportunity to fill that gap. With no exception, every legacy automaker underestimated the transformation to EVs. And every one of them is now literally scrambling to stay survive. ONRoute needs to take a chapter from their nightmare and attempt to get ahead of this before it’s too late.
This chart shows that buyers are turning off gas/diesel vehicles and gravitating to EVs. Gas and diesel vehicle sales are expected to never recover again.
Image from: The Auto Industry Is Likely To Grow In Unites But Decline In Enterprise Value
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We appreciate Tim’s passion for the future of EV and having Ontario ready for what’s next.