Canadian Manufacturing

Energy storage firms building EV charging network along Trans-Canada Highway

Three companies, including Ontario’s eCAMION, are building a network of chargers to allow electric car owners to fast-charge on the long drive between Manitoba and Ontario


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TORONTO—Three energy storage firms, Toronto-based eCAMION, Dallas-based Leclanché North America—part of Switzerland’s Leclanché SA—and Geneva-based SGEM are collaborating to develop and install a network of 34 fast-charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway.

The project entails an investment of $17.3 million and is being partially funded by an $8.0 million repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada.

“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,” said Jim Carr, Canada’s minister of Natural Resources.

eCAMION and Leclanché have formed a Toronto-based joint venture, FAST Charge Inc. to manage the project.

Leclanché says that currently, most public EV charging stations require six to eight hours to charge a vehicle—which makes it difficult for EV drivers to travel long distances.

The company also asserts that the slow charge issue is one of the biggest obstacles globally to EV adoption, but that the new system being developed by FAST Charge overcomes it.

The charging network 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 acts as a buffer between the grid and the vehicle and allows EVs to be charged rapidly from the batteries instead of directly but more slowly from the grid.

Leclanché says this technology will allow drivers to charge their vehicles in 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 Bryan Urban, EVP of Leclanché North America and president of FAST Charge.

Urban continued, “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.”

The stations will be installed at 34 locations along a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway connecting Ontario and Manitoba—a total distance of approximately 3,000 km with the stations spaced approximately 100 km apart. Each station will have three charging units to allow three vehicles to be charged simultaneously.

“This is perhaps the largest infrastructure project for electrical vehicles to be deployed at one time anywhere in the world,” said Elad Barak, VP for business development of eCAMION.

Project organizers estimate the network will reduce emissions by an estimated 0.7 million tonnes over the first five years of operation.

Demonstration units are scheduled to be completed by December of this year, and manufacturing is slated to begin in Q1 2018. The project is scheduled for completion by Q1 2019.


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