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EV/AV Report: April 20, 2020

A step for Simolo

Simolo Customs, a small golf kart manufacturer based in British Columbia, has received approval to build a low-speed, street-legal electric vehicle.

This week, Simolo, of Vernon, B.C.,  said Transport Canada gave it the green light following five years of planning and development. The company builds low-speed vehicles⁠—essentially hi-tech golf karts featuring built-in safety features and modern looks.

“There are certain criteria required by Transport Canada, and some of that is signal lights, headlights, tail lights, they want seat belts on the vehicle, a DOT-approved windshield and rear-view mirrors, ” Jeffery Holomis, CEO and owner of Simolo Customs Ltd., told Global News, adding that low-speed vehicles have a maximum speed limit of 40 km/h. 

According to the company, Vernon will be the first Canadian-crafted low-speed EV. Holomis says the vehicles have a range of uses and communities from coast to coast have adapted Simolo’s low-speed vehicles for municipal operations.

Electric bailout

An open letter from Ottawa’s Pembina Institute is urging federal and provincial and the provinces to look at electric vehicle production as one of the pillars for rebuilding Canada’s economy post-COVID-19.

The opinion piece, published by Pembina Institute’s Ontario regional director Carolyn Kim, said an analysis by Navius Research Inc. estimated the sector could grow to a size of $152 billion in GDP and employ 1.1 million people by 2040⁠—but that’s only if a “strong national zero-emission vehicle policy framework” is in place.

The focus on electric and zero-emission vehicles, Kim said in her report, comes from the fact that Canada needs to find sectors to grow where there’s long-term potential and insulation from future economic shocks after COVID-19 has passed. One key method, Kim noted, is to “future-proof” Canada’s sizeable but shrinking auto manufacturing sector with electric and hydrogen fuel cell expertise.

“The future is clearly electric — globally, light-duty electric vehicle sales have grown over 60% a year since 2012,” Kim’s report said. “But Canada only produces one plug-in vehicle model, which accounts for less than half a percent of domestic light-duty vehicle production.”

That one current passenger vehicle model is the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV being manufactured at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor Assembly. 

Kim added, however, that Quebec is home to several heavy-duty electric vehicle producers. B.C., meanwhile, has a small group of companies such as Vancouver’s Electra Meccanica (three-wheel single-occupancy vehicle) and Parksville’s Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd. (industrial vehicles and conversion kits).

“The foundation for growth is already laid,” she said, adding hydrogen vehicles comprises another part of the equation. “With hydrogen and fuel cell companies already in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, the potential for job growth across the country is ample.”

Airbag alterations

After partnering with 3M to produce respirators in response to shortages caused by coronavirus, Ford has doubled down on its relief efforts and is now using airbag material to manufacture hospital gowns for front line workers. 

The automaker is using the fabric—nylon 6,6, which is said to be highly fluid-resistant and lightweight—to craft more than 1.3 million gowns by July 4. 

As of April 19, Ford hopes to have production increased to a rate of 75,000 gowns per week, gradually accelerating to a rate of 100,000 gowns per week.

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