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EV/AV Report: Campaign prompts accessibility revisions to B.C. charging network; P.E.I.-based business fits pickups to be battery-powered

Toronto, Ontario — In this week’s report, a British Columbia resident’s campaign for accessible charging stations pays off, a Prince Edward Island auto shop opens orders for converted small pickup electric trucks and California’s senate passes a law against false autonomous vehicle advertising. This is the latest in electric and autonomous vehicles.

Chargers for All
On Sept.2, B.C. Hydro announced that they will be retrofitting all EV fast chargers in the province to be fully accessible, and building future sites with these accommodations in mind.

Part of this development is due to the lobbying efforts of Yaletown resident, Jacques Courteau. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, he explained that the majority of stations lacked wheelchair access – something he has been campaigning against for the past few years.

“Up until now, the only criteria for installing stations was there had to be a source of power,” said Courteau. “It is very rare that you find [Tesla superchargers] that have an accessible spot wide enough for me to open my door to let myself out. So I have to wait until there are two spots.”

Besides high and heavy charging cables, many of these stations are too clumped for drivers in wheelchairs to disembark from their vehicles and lack shelter for drivers waiting for a full charge on their batteries.

“New fast charging sites will be barrier-free, feature wider parking stalls, paved access, lowered chargers, wider protective bollards, improved lighting and better signage,” said wrote B.C. Hydro in a company press release, linked here.

From Gas to Green
A P.E.I. auto shop is taking orders for its production run of small electric pickup trucks, according to a CBC article published on Sept. 1.

Upcycle Green Technology, a Stratford based eco-friendly auto shop has completed two prototype pickup trucks this summer, retrofitting model 2009-2013 Toyota Corrollas with electric batteries.

According to the company’s founder, Natal Antonini, the primary advantage of these trucks is their low fuel cost – $2.50 per 100 kilometers in electricity, versus $30 per 100 kilometers in gas. While more expensive vehicles with longer ranges are in the works, Antonini is content with a production run of 100 vehicles per year, and fulfilling preorders for over 20 trucks.

“When do you think a big car company is coming to P.E.I.? Never, but we can have a small car company here,” Antonini said. “We have a small island, and a small car company. I think it’s pretty nice.”

Legal push
A bill against false AV advertising has been passed by California’s State Senate on Aug. 30, potentially requiring Tesla to change the ways it promotes its driving assistance software, dubbed by the company as Full Self-Driving (FSD).

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the bill’s sponsor, Lena Gonzalez, Senate Transportation Committee Chair, said that false advertising of FSD represents a safety issue, considering that FSD is closer to very advanced driving assistance rather than a true autopilot system – none of which exist yet, even in lab settings.

While California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) already has rules banning the advertising of cars as “self-driving” if they lack the capability, it has never enforced this rule in a legal context. Consequently, this bill aims to create regulations on false advertising at the state level.

While Tesla specifies that autopilot and FSD do not grant true autonomous driving on its website, Gonzalez argues that the name may constitute false advertising on its own. If passed, this legislation would limit the ways that companies market driving assistance systems.

In other words, a company cannot call its software fully self driving if it does not allow for fully self driving capabilities – undoubtedly, a harsh regulation against the free market.

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