Sunday, 12 June 2011

Green Fleet Expo comes to Hamilton

 2011 Hamilton, Ontario

The Courtyard by Marriott and the Warplane Heritage Museum, co-hosted the 6th Annual Green Fleet Expo (GFX) in Hamilton June 2-3, 2011. With over 300 delegates this year, attendance was up over GFX V, which was hosted at Centennial College in Toronto last June. The GFX is organized by the City of Hamilton, City of Toronto, Fleet Challenge Ontario and The Ministry of Transportation. The GFX is the premier show for fleet managers interested in greening their fleets in Ontario with delegates from all across Canada in attendance.
From left to right: Carol Layton, Deputy Minister of Transportation, Neil Sentance, Assistant Deputy Minister Ontario Public Service Green Office, Mike Goodale, Assistant Deputy Minister Ministry of Transportation, Jon Norman, Director, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Ron Campbell, Director Ministry of Environment

Informative presentations, expert panels and plenty of networking took place at the Courtyard Marriott on day one while product displays and a Ride and Drive with some of the latest electric vehicles, hybrids, and PHEVs were featured on day two amongst one of the finest collections of restored military aircraft in the nation at the humbling confines of the massive Warplane Heritage Museum.

On display at the Warplane Heritage Museum was an assorment of electric passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks like Canada Post's electric E-Star delivery truck
From Left:  Chris Hill, City of Hamilton, Steve Clark of Canada Post and Mark McGrew Navistar
For electric vehicle industry advocates and enthusiasts of electrified transportation, it is crucial to see government and corporate fleets, as the essential pilot projects for the launching of new green vehicle technologies. For fleet management, it is all about "TCO" (total cost of ownership) and environmental responsibility which is why City and Corporate Fleet managers are the most  critical part of accelerating the adoption of PHEVs, BEVs and other emerging technologies like hydrogen fuel cell. 
Tips from Fleet Manager Pros - Generating Green Fleet Buy-in
  • Extend oil change intervals where possible from 5,000 kms to 10-12,000 kms
  • For procurement use the LA4 Standard for comparing the range and performance of passenger light-duty EVs
  • Set goals of converting 10%+ fleet vehicles to hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV by next budget period
  • Don't let staff use drive thrus to eliminate idling (lower GHGs)
  • In BC join EC3 Fleet
  • Subscribe to the Fleet Challenge Ontario newsletter
  • Set performance based conservation benchmarks
    • i.e. reduce diesel usage by up to 9,000 lts through ground-based solar
On Thursday morning, the GFX kicked off with presentations on advanced fuel saving technology for heavy-duty vehicles from Rolf Lockwood of Today's Trucking, followed by Al Cormier from Elecctric Mobility Canada speaking on the task of implementing Canada's Electric Vehicle Technology Road Map. These presentations lead up to an exchange of best practices for lowering operating costs for City and Corporate fleets through the selection of the lowest GHG emitting vehicles available. 

A number of City Fleet Managers and City fleet staff were present to share their Green Fleet success stories including: Bill Barr from the City of Guelph, Yvan Lupien the City of Ottawa, the City of Hamilton's Chris Hill, and Doug Smith of the City of Vancouver. City of Toronto's Gerry Pietschmann was present however he did present.

Leading city Fleet Managers from across Canada: Doug Smith of the City of Vancouver, Bill Barr from City of Guelph, Yvan Lupien from the City of Ottawa and Chris Hill City of Hamilton
During Cormier's EMC presentation, delegates learned that 60% of energy in Canada comes from renewable sources while in the US, only 20% of energy comes from renewables. He further noted that Canada is in good company amongst other eco-energy leader likes Norway and Germany. Cormier also made the prediction that battery leasing will be increasingly crucial to the adoption of EVs in Canada and that battery pricing will fall to $300-$400/kW/hr in one to two years.
Al Cormier - CEO of Electric Mobility Canada
For more on why fleets are the key to the new green transportation technology equation see the early adoptor background on the EMC website.

After the morning break, Tom Odell of Toronto Hydro discussed their electric vehicle test program called SmartExperience. Before getting to the heart of the current technology, Odell led in with a brief reminder for delegates that in the mid 1800's there was no less than three competing transportation technologies: ICE, electric and the often forgotten--steam power!
Tom Odell of Toronto Hydro speaking on SmartExperience
Odell explained that Toronto Hydro has 45 SmartCar electrics coming to Canada for the hydro smart program. The retrofitted SmartCars will be available on a four year lease for $545/mo and 15 of the vehicles will be awarded as a part of their ambassador program. If that sounds expensive, think about the fact that there are no added fuel costs to pile on. The purpose of the program is to acquire data from the CrossChasm equipped vehicles so that the charging load impact on the grid can be better understood. CrossChasm is a Waterloo, ON based start-up specializing in powertrain design, vehicle simulation, control systems and fleet validation for hybrids and full battery electric vehicles. 

From By Odell's calculations, these SmartCar electrics will operate at one-fifth the cost of their ICE counterparts. Toronto Hydro further estimates that the City of Toronto can accomodate 125,000 electric cars or approximately 10% of all vehicles in the City based on current energy supply utilizing smart charging and smartgrid technologies to permit charging in off peak hours.
Deputy Minister of Transportation Carol Layton addressing the issue of re-introducing provincial incentives for electric motorcycles. In 2009, street electric motorcycles were eligible for an 8% PST refund amounting to over $1,000 in savings but in spring 2010 under a shuffled provincial ministry the refund was rescinded.
Available in the Ride and Drive, was the Mitsubishi iMiEV with a newly announced Canadian MSRP of $35,998 or $2,397 less than the longer range Nissan Leaf which also announced Canadian pricing last month ($38,398). Mitsubishi's new EV Fleet Manager David Murphy was onsite and clearly pumped about the fleet opportunities for the iMiEV. With 18 years experience in the automotive fleet business, Murphy knows the ropes. As I had a chance to sit with Murphy and talk shop on the iMiEV roll-out in Canada, he explained that consumers should begin to see the Mitsubishi 135 km all-electric iMiEV beginning November 2011.

I got to drive the iMiEV at last year's GFX at Centennial College and was very impressed with the simplicity of the vehicle and the spirited acceleration. It was a little strange however, driving a right hand drive vehicle for the first time. The iMiEVs in Canada last year were right hand drive Japanese models, so getting used to the signal controls was odd indeed.
Rolf Lockwood from Today's Trucking takes a questions from Roger Smith of Fleet Challenge Ontario
Although I did not get to attend the Ride and Drive on Friday at GFX VI by all accounts the event was a success and I look forward to attending again next year.