EV/AV Report: September 7, 2020

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— In this week’s EV/AV Report, Canada’s electric vehicle sales see a second-quarter downturn, B.C. introduces new EV rebates and a Toronto-based autonomous trucking startup scoops up an environmental award.

EV downturn

Canada’s zero-emissions vehicle sales saw a marked decline in the second quarter of 2020, with only 9,069 units sold between April and June of this year, according to figures provided by Electric Mobility Canada.

The results represent a drop of more than 50 percent from the 18,032 units sold in the second quarter of 2019. 

The second-quarter numbers disappoint when compared to the more hopeful figures seen in the first quarter of 2020. From January through March 2020, 11,998 electric vehicles were sold in Canada, representing roughly 3.8 percent of the country’s total light vehicle market share.

Nevertheless, the total amount of EVs on Canada’s roads continues to climb. According to Electric Mobility Canada, that number now sits at approximately 168,000, with 75,000 of those located in Quebec, 46,000 in Ontario, and 41,000 in British Columbia.

Revving up rebates

The British Columbia government is fuelling further EV growth in the province by offering rebates to business, regional government and non-profit buying electric passenger vehicles.

The rebates range from $1,700 to $50,000 covering everything from electric motorcycles, cube trucks and shuttle buses.

Environmental Minister George Heyman says transportation is a huge source of emissions and the program will help businesses switch to cleaner vehicles. Meanwhile, Energy Minister Bruce Ralston says B.C. has become a leader in zero-emission vehicles and is ahead of schedule in its 2030 target of reducing the use of fossil fuels.

“It’s very popular here in British Columbia, very widely supported and we’re making very steady progress as we head towards a low-carbon economy,” Ralston says.

NuPort’s notoriety 

A Toronto entrepreneur has won an award for his autonomous trucking start-up NuPort Robotics.

Raghavender Sahdev was presented with a Mitacs Environmental Entrepreneur Award Sept. 2 at a virtual awards ceremony.

Sahdev came to Canada from India as an intern at the University of Toronto. He earned his Master’s in computer science at York University and started NuPort in March 2019.

NuPort looks to automate middle mile deliveries for retailers, manufacturers and logistics companies.

“We’re currently the only company in Canada working on autonomous, self-driving trucks for short distances,” said Sahdev, noting that the middle mile is typically between five and 20 kilometres and often takes place in industrial regions. “We want to establish Canada as the leading country for autonomous vehicles in the world.”

NuPort’s technology—which includes a proprietary navigation system that incorporates high-tech sensors and controls—will be offered on a robot-as-a-service (RaaS) model. Client trucks are converted from manual to autonomous operation and then managed by NuPort as they move along a fixed route. Sahdev said the technology will increase efficiency while also taking pressure off Canada’s truck driver shortage.

“We’re working to fill that gap in the industry and at the same time, we’re creating new jobs,” said Sahdev, explaining that his company will hire oversight officers, inspection officers and mechanics, among other positions, as they begin to deploy the technology at scale. “We’re aiming to reverse the trend of ‘brain drain,’ or top talent leaving the country, by creating jobs for artificial intelligence professionals in Canada.”


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