movmi’s Mobility Mingler: Shared Electric Vehicles

mobility mingler

At the beginning of October we held a mobility mingler- an invite-only event housed under the Chatham House Rules. We were joined by an expert panel, that focused around why the electrification of vehicles within the shared mobility sector is important. Environmentally, internal combustion engines account for 40% of all Greenhouse gas emissions and according to a new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada is warming twice as fast the rest of the world with “irreversible effects.” Perhaps this the greatest argument for a fully electric shared mobility fleet, but we wanted to know what our panel of experts thoughts.

Keep reading to find out the key topics discussed at this month’s electrification mobility mingler. For more information on the electrification within shared mobility, browse our blog posts here.

electric mobility mingler

movmi’s Mobility Mingler: Shared Electric Vehicles

Charging Infrastructure

Electrification is the future. A statement that all our expert panelists could agree on. In fact, it was even suggested that the easiest way for carshare companies to adapt would be to go fully electric straight away. As companies are already managing fuel, maintenance, and operations for internal combustion vehicles, adding additional vehicles that are EVs only doubles the work required on a regular basis.

However, one reason that electric vehicles have not been as successful in Canada as its European counterparts is the lack of a solid charging infrastructure. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Canada has just 5,800 publicly accessible charging stations and most of them are clustered around cities. That compares to 762,000 in the U.S. and over 1.2 million in China. Norway, with a population of just five million has 176,000 charging stations. Yet public accessible infrastructure is key when carsharing fleets are to be electrified.

Station based EV carsharing seems like the most obvious choice for the future of electric shared mobility fleets, but this only works with the correct charging infrastructure and education for new EV users. Carsharing companies do not control the parking spaces they lease for their vehicles and so are very limited in their ability of convincing the owners to install additional charging infrastructure. In addition to that, users are not always familiar on how to use charing infrastructure and might just avoid dealing with that step at the end of their trips.

Due to the current lack of a charging infrastructure, it was suggested that a Free-Floating EV carsharing model would make more sense. This essentially means taking the responsibility out of the users hands and using a team of technicians to remove a vehicle from service and charge it when necessary. An example of this model currently in operation is Communauto, a carshare company that is available in Montreal, Quebec City, Gatineau and Sherbrooke, Edmonton and Halifax. They operate a station-based and free-floating fleet and have opted to electrify the free-floating portion of their fleet.

Over the next five years, the federal budget states that Canada will spend $130 million expanding its network of recharging and refuelling stations for electric vehicles. Perhaps when this infrastructure is in place, station-based EV fleet models will be the future of carsharing.

As of January 1, 2019, all new development permit applications for multi-family buildings must include EV charging infrastructure in 100% of parking stalls, with the exception of visitor stalls. In current buildings, it takes approval of 75% of people living in the apartment building to have a charging station installed in the parking lot. Making sure that this infrastructure is publicly available would be a logical step towards encouraging EV uptake for carsharing fleets.

Electric Vehicle Incentives & REGULATIONS

Local government administrations around the world have started incentivizing businesses and the individual user to go electric – which makes this the best time to invest in an electric vehicle or indeed, a fleet. One example of a country that is leading the EV charge is Norway. It has one of the most impressive EV targets, planning to completely ban the sale of petrol cars by 2025, and 37% of new vehicle sales are currently EVs. In the region electric cars are exempt from acquisition tax, representing around NOK 100 000 (USD 11,600), furthermore, they are exempt from the 25% value-added tax (VAT) on car purchases.

Incentivizing the purchase and use of electric vehicles will increase the uptake much more than internal combustion bans will. There are several programs in Canada available:

  1. Across Canada, the Government of Ontario offers a subsidy of up to $14,000 off the purchase price of an EV and up to $1,000 of the price of a home charging station and a green license plate. The Government of Quebec offers a rebate of up to $8,000 and 50% of the cost of a home charging station, or up to a maximum of $600. 
  2. A new federal incentive for consumer-bought, zero-emission vehicles The 2019 federal budget includes an incentive of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, along with tax breaks for businesses investing in clean cars and trucks.
  3. In June this year, the provincial of government of British Columbia announced that is was adding $26.5 million to its CEVforBC rebate program to meet ongoing demand. However, the programme previously offered a rebate of up to $5,000 for qualifying new battery electric, fuel-cell electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle but it has now been slashed for each consumer to $3,000 and $1,500 consecutively.

These incentives are great, except they are targeting individual vehicle owners. There need to be similar programs in place for fleet owners that want to move towards electric vehicles.

One such example has just been introduced in Vancouver: ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft have received permission to operate this September. They are subject to a congestion charge where each pickup or dropoff in the downtown core will be charged an additional 30cents. However, if they operate an electric vehicle, there will be a 50% discount on the congestion charge.


One of the biggest issues with electric vehicles is the length of time it takes to charge a battery. For micro shared electric vehicles like Vancouver’s VeloMetro, smaller battery packs means that the company is able to take a battery to the vehicle and swap it out. This is the fastest way of charging an electric vehicle. However, car batteries are larger, more complex and each one is different – some are even connected to the vehicles, therefore swapping out the battery is next to impossible. A point was made about the standardization of batteries. Perhaps this would allow batteries to be removed and swapped easily? However it’s hard for EV manufacturers to go with the standard battery as they already have everything built and to change all the vehicles in production is a huge undertaking. 

A point was made that in the end one of the standards will be ahead of the others and therefore will receive mass adoption which is exactly what happened with VHS and BluRay in the past. It was also noted that you may not be able to deliver the battery to the vehicle but you can bring a charging station to the vehicle instead! 

It is evident that as technology advances so too do batteries. However, even though there are breakthroughs every day with energy storage technologies like solid state batteries, graphene super-capacitors and hydrogen fuel cells – each one comes with a new set of complications. That being said, just last month, Elon Musk announced a potential million-mile battery, claiming that it would only lose less than 10% of its energy capacity during its lifetime. Perhaps over the next few years we will see a superior EV battery come to market which will solve all our current EV issues.

Plug-in Hybrids vs 100% Electric Vehicles

A general consensus was that 100% EV is the future. A two system vehicle has too much overhead, particularly in a fleet scenario. With the improvements of technology, 100% electric vehicle performance has increased. There will soon be batteries on the market that will be able to make 1,000 miles on a single charge – so the need for hybrids will be at an end.

Auto makers have leaned on hybrid vehicles for two decades to help them comply with regulations on fuel consumption and give customers greener options in the showroom. This has caused a split in the industry. Companies like General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, two of the world’s largest car manufacturers say they see no future for hybrids in their U.S. lineups. However, Toyota and Ford plan to keep hybrids as part of their core lineup. Right now, there is diversity but over the next few decades when regulations and legislation improve worldwide and the associated EV technology catches up – the need for hybrids will disappear completely.

In order for the residents of city of Vancouver to fully adapt to electric vehicles, the city must adapt first. All different modes of transportation need to collectively work together and be offered to the user via one single app. Mass transit, shared mobility, goods and services and the individual car need to become fully electrified and offered on the one platform, making the use and choice of electric vehicles a simple and easy one.

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