News / Winnipeg

Electric cars spark interest: Winnipeg exploring ways to fund quick-chargers

Quick chargers would make travel out of Winnipeg or through Manitoba feasible by giving electric vehicles 300-400km of travel during a quick pit-stop.

Like an electric car charging station, Winnipeg’s response to increased demand for green vehicles is slow – but that could soon change.

A couple of industry stakeholders backed up Coun. Russ Wyatt at the infrastructure and public works committee Tuesday while he tried to get the city to hurry up and start building electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Wyatt said it would be in the city’s best interest to do so “immediately,” because the federal government has earmarked $7 million in funding for that purpose.

Local auto-dealer Larry Vickar, who is, by his own admission, a “purveyor of the internal combustion engine,” said EVs are the future, but not a distant one.

“In fact the future is here today,” he said.

Robert Elms, the president of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association, told the committee there are at least 100 pure EVs in the city limits alone, and more than 5,000 vehicles with electric motors or hybrid engines registered with the association province-wide.

The issue current and prospective owners face, Elms said, is Winnipeg’s “lack of charging stations.”

With the exception of Winnipeg’s single quick charge station at Red River College’s Notre Dame Avenue campus, EV owners are charging their vehicles at home. That limit's the car's practicality to its range – not including a return trip.

“Being able to get from point A to point B with the confidence—if you have an EV—that you’re not going to run out of fuel somewhere in-between… that’s a major stumbling block,” Wyatt said.

Elms said “level three quick-charging stations” can take an EV drained down to 20 per cent up to levels sufficient for 300-400 km of travel, “in the length of time it takes you to go use the washroom, grab yourself a coffee and a doughnut.”  

He figures five level-three quick charging stations positioned carefully around the city would “be just perfect for those folks who live out of town who want to be able to come to (Winnipeg), and then get back home again," or vice-versa.

Elms estimated each station would cost around $40,000, depending on the location.

Coun. Marty Morantz, the committee chair, said he agrees “with the intent” of Wyatt’s motion, and he thinks “electric charging stations are something that the city does need to address.”

But he also thinks the innovation committee is the right body to do so, particularly because it has “funds set aside for these types of initiatives.”

The committee sent Wyatt’s motion to council so that it can be referred to the innovation committee for further consideration, and asked city staff to find out what external funding could be accessed to help build EV charging stations.

Elms said it was a “positive step.”

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