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EV/AV Report: October 5, 2020

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— Canadian buses get a battery-powered boost, Canadian faith in self-driving technology wavers and a Mississauga, Ont. company is recognized for its leadership in this week’s EV/AV Report.

Battery-powered bus boost

The federal government announced Thursday that $1.5 billion will be allocated to “accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure so Canadians can have cleaner commutes.”

This investment comes as part of a three-year, $10 billion “Growth Plan” that will support initiatives like clean energy projects and broadband expansion. The government is expecting this move to pump about 60,000 new jobs into the economy in an effort to bounce back from COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We will continue to do what it takes to support Canadians through this crisis, safely get our economy back up and running, and get people back to work,” says Prime Minister Trudeau, in a release.

“Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds stronger communities,” adds Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna.

The plan continues to expand on the Trudeau government’s aspirations when it comes to electric bus development and hopes to help get the EV industry back on its feet.

“This investment goes beyond cutting carbon pollution – it’s also an investment in Canada’s four electric bus manufacturers and the local jobs they provide,” says Sarah Petrevan, policy director at think tank Clean Energy Canada, in a statement that followed the announcement.

Autonomous awareness

A survey of more than 3,000 Canadian drivers conducted by Desjardins Insurance has found that 72 percent of respondents don’t trust the technology of self-driving vehicles.

“Canadians aren’t necessarily convinced or trust self-driving technology,” said Ken Lindhardsen, vice-president of accident benefits and bodily injury for Desjardins. He suspects this is due to a lack of familiarity with the technology since there aren’t many self-driving vehicles currently in use.

“If someone doesn’t own one, they probably don’t understand well how it works and maybe don’t have that same trust and confidence in its ability to do the job that it’s intended to do.”

Lindharsen said, with autonomous technology on the doorstep, educating consumers on the functionality of self-driving cars will be hugely important.

“There’s no question that moving in the direction of autonomous vehicles is the right way to go. I think the question is at what pace and how quickly can we accelerate understanding, ensuring both the technology is at a sufficient point in its development life cycle to be living up to the expectations and improving road safety, while at the same time educating consumers as a whole,” he said.

The survey also showed that 46 percent of respondents think Canadians are too reliant on advanced vehicle safety technologies such as lane departure, front collision warning or automatic emergency braking. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said there should be more education on how to use these features, especially among drivers older than 35 years of age.

All eyes on Alectra

Alectra Utilities has been awarded the Tom Mitchell Electric Vehicle Utility Leadership Award from the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA).

“We appreciate receiving this award from Plug’n Drive and the CEA,” said Brian Bentz, President and CEO, Alectra Inc. “The work that the GRE&T Centre does is an important part of our effort to help build a clean energy future and embrace new technologies to help our customers.”

The GRE&T Centre, or Green Energy & Technology Centre, has been the home of all of Alectra’s EV development initiatives.

Alectra was also named Public Power Utility of the Year by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and ranked third in Corporate Knights “Best 50 Corporate Citizens”, earlier this year.

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