Electric vehicle showcase planned

·3 min read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Anyone who is curious about the future of electric-powered vehicles and how they can perform in the North may be interested in the Electric Vehicle Show this Saturday in Thunder Bay.

The free event will feature opportunities to learn about electric cars and bicycles, vehicle charging, active transportation and safe cycling, and will include a family bike swap hosted by Community Spokes.

Summer Stevenson, the sustainability co-ordinator with Earth Care Thunder Bay, says there will be a variety of vehicles on display with their owners present.

“We have folks coming from Terrace Bay and Marathon with their own vehicles to talk to the public about what it’s like to own an electric vehicle in the North,” Stevenson said. “We’ve got different Tesla models, the Hyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf, the Mustang Mach E and even a Ford F 150 Lightning that will be at the show.”

She says in Thunder Bay, more than 40 per cent of annual emissions come from transportation.

“In order to meet Thunder Bay’s climate goals, we have to dramatically reduce the amount of gasoline and diesel that we put into our vehicles and for other purposes,” she said.

“Electric vehicles really offer an opportunity to support this transition by reducing gasoline and fossil fuel use and still allow people that freedom to move about.”

Stevenson explained the net-zero strategy is the plan that will take Thunder Bay to net-zero emissions by 2050 and they also envision that by 2040, 100 per cent of vehicles that are sold privately are electric vehicles.

“Although 2040 seems like a long way away, it’s almost 17 years now and we’re coming close to the end of this year, which means that’s a dramatic upscale in electric vehicles that are currently sold,” she said. “We know that in Thunder Bay, it can be challenging to access the stock and inventory of electric vehicles, and that’s seen across the province. So all of these moves to increase the production and development of batteries for vehicles across the province is really important to help meet the demand that we’re going to see for electric vehicles in the coming years.”

Sevenson is aware of concerns of northern residents about battery life to power a vehicle.

“That is a huge concern,” she said. “This show is a fantastic opportunity for folks to come and talk to people that have been driving electric vehicles in Thunder Bay for quite some time.”

One participant in the show has been a Tesla owner since 2017 and will be on hand to answer questions and talk about her experience of driving an electric car over the last five years in the North. There will be opportunities to learn how batteries last in cold temperatures and how far one can drive on a charge and the availability of accessible public charging stations.

“A really big part is definitely the infrastructure,” says Stevenson. “We have gas stations on so many corners here in Thunder Bay and so the same thing will need to happen with electric vehicle chargers now.’

She says most people who own an electric vehicle will do the majority of their charging at home. To address energy costs, both Synergy North and Ontario Power Generation will be at the show to talk to people about installing electric vehicle chargers both in the home and out in public spaces.

The province is working on an ultra-low overnight rate and Stevenson says this is a proposal that is still under consultation at the provincial level to grapple with that problem.

Meanwhile, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has secured funding to support the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Thunder Bay. The funding will be distributed locally through a CDEC program called Plug In Thunder Bay to help meet the growing charging and refuelling demand in Thunder Bay.

The Electric Vehicle Show will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Coliseum building.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal