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 Leclanché North America, part of Switzerland’s Leclanché SA; and SGEM based in Geneva, to develop and install a network of 34 fast-charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH).


The project, designed to encourage the adoption of EVs in Canada, entails an investment of CA$17.3 million (US$13.6 million) and is being partially funded by a CA$8.0 million (US$6.2 million) repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) under the Canadian Energy Innovation Program. This public-private initiative will be supported by an investment from eCAMION, Leclanché and SGEM.


Canada recognizes the key role electric vehicles will play in reducing emissions from the transportation sector,” said Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “With more electric vehicles becoming available, we want to make them an easy choice for Canadians. This strategic investment brings us closer to having a national coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations while growing our economy and creating good jobs for Canada’s middle-class.”


FAST Charge Joint Venture Created to Manage EV Project

eCAMION and Leclanché have formed a Toronto-based joint venture, named FAST Charge Inc., to manage the TCH project and further expand the implementation of EV charging systems across North America. Bryan Urban, Executive Vice President of Leclanché North America, will serve as President, and Himanshu Sudan, CFO of eCAMION, will serve as CEO of the joint venture.


eCAMION is a privately-held provider of modular, smart energy storage solutions that find innovative use in community storage, EV charging, auxiliary power units, storage for renewable energy projects as well as in custom applications.


Leclanché is one of the world’s leading, vertically integrated, energy storage solution providers. It delivers a wide range of energy storage solutions for homes, small offices, industry, electricity grids, as well as solutions for transport such as electric buses and marine applications.


SGEM is an independent power producer that develops, builds owns and operates power generation assets including energy storage capabilities.


Project Designed to Overcome “Range Anxiety”

Currently, most public EV charging stations operate at Level 2, requiring about six to eight hours to charge a vehicle. The existing grid infrastructure sometimes proves inadequate to support faster charging. This makes it cumbersome for EV drivers to travel long distances contributing to “range anxiety,” and is one of the biggest obstacles globally to EV adoption.


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. This architecture 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 advanced lithium ion 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 just 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 Urban. “Vehicles will be able to power up during peak hours using off-peak energy and continue on their journey in a relatively similar amount of time it would take to fuel a fossil fuel vehicle, grab a snack and visit a bathroom.”


At the core of each station will be FAST Charge’s state-of-the-art energy storage system, featuring advanced lithium-ion batteries with scalable capacity that will draw and store energy from the grid for use by charging units whenever required. Each station will have three charging units to allow three vehicles to be charged simultaneously.


FAST Charge has already started work on the demonstration units with significant funding to be provided by NRCan and 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 roadway connecting Ontario and Manitoba Provinces—a total distance of approximately 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) with the stations spaced approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) apart.


“This is perhaps the largest infrastructure project for electrical vehicles to be deployed at one time anywhere in the world,” said Elad Barak, VP–Business Development of eCAMION. “We are pleased to collaborate with Natural Resources Canada, Leclanché and SGEM to deliver a public infrastructure improvement of this importance in terms of product innovation, environmental benefits and bold policy initiative.”


Environmental Benefits

Greater adoption of EVs for inter-urban travel will reduce the use of carbon-intensive fuels for transportation, which currently generates nearly a quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. The installation of 102 charging units at 34 different locations by FAST Charge will reduce emissions by an estimated 0.7 million tons over the first five years of operation.


In addition, each charging station can be connected to a renewable energy source such as solar or wind to facilitate 100% emission-free driving. To further demonstrate this, the installation at Highway 11 and Philip Creek Road in Ontario will be connected to a solar photovoltaic system, along with the grid, to demonstrate the full utilization of a clean energy solution


The project is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2019.