We are moving fast – electric vehicle technology quickly progressing

Taylor Campbell/The Windsor Star

Electric vehicle technology in Canada is moving fast — maybe too fast if you ask Narayan Kar.

Director of the University of Windsor’s CHARGE Lab (Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy), Kar says the electric vehicle technology industry has a long and potentially challenging road ahead — but with the Government of Canada looking to phase out gas-fuelled vehicle sales by 2035, the industry will have to travel that road in a hurry.

“The last 100 years … we are perfecting the technology we have,” Kar said. “But here we are trying to make a new technology that can work equivalent in performance in terms of driving distance, cost, and durability, to gasoline engines. That’s what we’re trying to do, to get there in a very short amount of time.

“It will take time, so we need to be patient. But we are moving fast and we see that everyone is responding to this emergency need of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the climate.”

Kar spoke on Friday during the university’s inaugural FuturECar conference, which brought together industry experts, stakeholders, and academics from across North America to discuss research and development in electric vehicle technology.

The FuturECar conference was held at the university’s Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation.

Tom Schnekenburger, the university’s director of research partnerships, told the Star it was “exciting” to have everyone in the same room.

“We thought it was really important to bring everybody together to talk about what the future of this industry looks like in Ontario, and how, as universities, we can best support that transition, developing both the EV innovations and the talent pipeline and expertise,” Schnekenburger said.

In addition to networking, those in attendance toured the CHARGE Lab, an internationally recognized research and development, system design, and commercial test centre. The lab recently underwent a $4 million renovation, more than doubling the lab’s footprint and capabilities.

“Electric vehicle technology is gaining good traction,” Kar said. “It is moving really fast, maybe a little too fast.”

“We are trying to understand what is the current status (of the industry), how we are responding, where we are going, and the challenges ahead as we do this.”

Battery technology was one focus of the Friday conference. Battery power density has gone up, which means smaller battery packs and lower production costs, Kar said.

Academics are also studying powertrain technology, another “costly item,” and looking for ways to make powertrains lighter, smaller, and less expensive to make.

Cybersecurity is another issue, Kar said. Cars are becoming autonomous and connected with mobile technology.

“If someone hacks my car while I am driving, I could get in trouble, so how do we avoid that?”