Groups in Toronto have been evaluating the benefits and difficulties of plug-in vehicles for years and some in the city were talking about having a fleet of 200 such vehicles all the way back in 2007. Now, the Greater Toronto Area is getting its act together with the EV300 program that intends to get at least 300 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and pure electric vehicles (EVs) into public and private fleets by 2012. The City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation already have plug-in vehicles in their fleets. Gerry Pietschmann, director of fleet services for the City of Toronto, said that EV300 will allow fleets to:
pool their purchasing power and share information about what works and what doesn't when it comes to electric vehicles. It also helps us to identify what needs to be done to better support the use of electric vehicles, whether it is making charging points more available or teaching drivers how best to operate this new breed of vehicles.
At the very least, cold-weather testing for plug-in vehicles will soon become a bit easier if Toronto fleshes out its charging network. More details after the jump.

[Source: Toronto Atmospheric Fund | Image: ChoudhrySaab - C.C. License 2.0]

PRESS RELEASE

GTA fleets buzzing over new EV300 program
Program will point the way for electric vehicle usage in GTA fleets

Toronto - Toronto region municipalities and companies are working together to be North American leaders in the deployment of electric vehicles through the new FleetWise EV300 program.

EV300's goal is to get at least 300 electric vehicles (plug-in hybrid and all-electric) operating in public and corporate fleets across the GTA by 2012. "EV300 will give the GTA an important head start in deploying electric vehicles by creating a critical level of demand for vehicles and supporting infrastructure," explains Ben Marans, FleetWise manager for the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF).

A number of public fleets – including the City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation – have already joined the initiative and interest from auto makers, utilities and public and private fleet managers is growing rapidly. These operations represent thousands of vehicles operating across the Greater Toronto Area.

"This program lets fleets pool their purchasing power and share information about what works and what doesn't when it comes to electric vehicles. It also helps us to identify what needs to be done to better support the use of electric vehicles, whether it is making charging points more available or teaching drivers how best to operate this new breed of vehicles," explains Gerry Pietschmann, Director of Fleet Services for the City of Toronto.

EV300 is making it easier for fleet managers to include electric vehicles as part of their wider efforts to green their fleets. That includes everything from switching to more fuel efficient vehicles and better driver training to incorporating new technology. And it will pave the way for the wider adoption of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions. "More than a quarter of Toronto's greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation and that is growing," Marans notes. "Improvements to public transit, programs to promote car pooling and tele-commuting, and efforts to create more pedestrian and cycling friendly infrastructure are key to reducing these emissions. But individual vehicles, especially in fleets, will remain part of the mix, which means we need to lower their emissions as well."

With the new Green Energy Act spurring development of more clean renewable electricity in Ontario and with coal plants being phased out, the emissions reduction benefits of electric vehicles will also improve. Currently in Ontario, electricity as a transportation fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 86% compared to gasoline.

"TAF has developed many successful emissions reduction programs in Toronto, including two pilot programs to assess electric vehicles," Marans adds. "We know there will be some bumps in the road and that is why the collective approach behind EV300 is so valuable. It allows fleet managers to adopt this new technology in a sensible way where risks and insights are shared."

"EV300 once again demonstrates Toronto's commitment to tackling climate change. Plus, there will be important economic and health benefits from making our region an early adopter of clean vehicle technology," says Julia Langer, executive director of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund. "We can't afford to be left at the starting line
."

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