Coming to a signpost near you?

Electric vehicles (EVs) will result in unprecedented change for two of the world’s oldest and largest industries: electricity and transportation.

The value propositions deployed by incumbent electricity producers and distributors as well as  transportation infrastructure providers may no longer be relevant. EVs could alter the future of energy to the same extent that the introduction of cell phones changed the course of telecommunications.

The automotive industry is embracing and evolving EV technology. In the last five years we have seen dramatic improvements on efficiency, cost and durability within the battery, fuel cell and other electric power train development programs. All of the automakers are focused on the next generation of hybrid and EV. Examples include the upcoming Chevy Volt introduction, the Nissan Leaf with its creative advertisements and Honda’s plans for plug-in hybrids and new compact high-output lithium-ion batteries.

We have seen the discussions and plans for EVs escalate to this level in the past, but something seems different this time. Along with the reemergence of EV technology we are also seeing innovations and developments in energy infrastructure – a phenomena that could provide EVs with a more sustainable introduction. When EV developments are coupled with the advancements in smart grid technologies, improvements in energy storage and concepts on vehicle to grid related energy infrastructure, the transportation industry could play a fundamental role in the next generation development of our energy grid. We have seen infrastructure providers become involved with:

  • Formation of a Clean Energy Partnership which includes German utilities, oil and gas companies as well as auto manufacturers who will jointly aggressively pursue hydrogen refueling stations with aspirations of using the fuel as a means of providing grid stabilization and energy storage to manage further renewable energy growth on the electrical grid
  • Traditional oil and gas companies expanding into alternative fuel such as Shell with its hydrogen refueling station deployments
  • A $350 million dollar investment into Better Place, a company planning to build electric recharging infrastructure
  • Electrical producers and distributors creating funds to encourage innovation to help them deal with the new paradigm

Canadian innovators are well positioned to fuel both the automotive and infrastructure advancements. The challenge is predicting how the industry will unfold and ensuring that the path to market will provide them a role in the new industry.

On September 20, we’re launching our MaRS Market Insights Series where Ontario industry leaders and entrepreneurs will come together to explore an industry. In this first session, I’m moderating a panel on the electric vehicle market. Find out where it’s headed and what it means for your business. Want to hear more? Register and join us as we explore the issues and impacts.

Register now: https://www.marsdd.com/marketinsights

Jon Dogterom

Jon Dogterom leads Cleantech Venture Services at MaRS, assisting innovative Ontario-based companies in growing their businesses. See more…