NRCan seeks funding for ZEV education and awareness projects in latest RFP

Up to $ 300,000 will go to projects designed to accelerate adoption by increasing public understanding and confidence in zero-emission vehicles and charging infrastructure, explains Thierry Spiess of Natural Resources Canada

In June, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) issued a request for proposals for projects as part of its new zero-emission vehicle awareness initiative (ZEVAI). NRCan seeks to fund projects designed to increase awareness and education on the benefits of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and public charging infrastructure.

The RFP will provide funding to projects across Canada between August 2021 and March 2023.

Examples of projects eligible for funding include targeted awareness and awareness campaigns, test drive programs, or the development of a training or curriculum for a target audience, such as truck drivers or car dealerships.

Projects managed by for-profit organizations are eligible to receive up to 50 percent of project costs up to a maximum of $ 100,000 if completed by March 2022; and up to $ 200,000 if they start before, provided they are completed by March 2023.

Projects managed by non-profit or Indigenous organizations as well as municipal, provincial and territorial governments are eligible to receive up to 75% of project costs up to a maximum of $ 150,000 if completed by ‘by March 2022; and up to $ 300,000 if they start before and are completed by March 2023.

Autonomy Electric Canada spoke with Thierry Spiess, Senior Director, Advanced Vehicles at Natural Resources Canada, about the importance of sustained ZEV education in the transition to a net zero future and some of the successful education projects already operational in Canada .

Below is the transcript of that interview, edited for length and clarity.

Electric autonomy: This initiative aims to raise awareness of the benefits of ZEVs across Canada. Why does increased education and awareness have the power to play such a crucial role in the transition to ZEV?

Thierry Spiess: We know that barriers to the adoption of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) include higher purchase prices, a perceived or actual lack of charging infrastructure, and a lack of familiarity and knowledge about the operation of these vehicles – and the government is attacking all three.

A recent investigation by the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association shows that the lack of familiarity with electric or hydrogen fuel cell technology remains one of the main obstacles to the adoption and recent report by the International Energy Association notes that public awareness campaigns and behavior changes are essential to achieving net zero.

According to Plug’n Drive, 80 percent of people who visited the EV Discovery Center [in Toronto, Ont.] are more likely to purchase an electric vehicle, over 30 percent have purchased an electric vehicle, and over 60 percent plan to purchase one within the next two years.

The goal of the Zero Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative is to broaden and strengthen public confidence in zero emission vehicles. Awareness and knowledge are fundamental to building that trust.

“The initiative was built on the premise that knowledge leads to trust, which leads to action”

Thierry Spiess, Senior Director, Advanced Vehicles, Natural Resources Canada

EA: Would you say there are geographic gaps in the current awareness of VZE that this initiative has the potential to fill?

Thierry Spiess: Currently, the adoption of ZEV is mainly done in urban centers and in regions where there are provincial, territorial and federal incentives and where information on ZEV is more easily accessible. We need all Canadians to switch to ZEVs, which is why targeted awareness, awareness and education efforts are needed to increase the confidence of all drivers.

The ZEVAI 2021 Call for Proposals aims to support projects across Canada, including regions where ZEV adoption has been low to date and public trust may not yet have been addressed. in a significative way.

NRCan also plans to undertake research and engagement in the coming months to help us better understand the differences in knowledge, confidence and perspectives on ZEVs in different regions of the country.

EA: Have there been any ZEV awareness programs, internationally or in Canada, that provide a model for the ideal project that the government is looking to help fund?

Thierry Spiess: We were inspired by international campaigns like that of Forth Mobility plan to provide equity for education projects in the United States, the California ZEV Investment Plan which supports ZEV brand neutral education and outreach efforts or the UK EV Discovery Center.

And we have world-class projects here in Canada that have been very effective in building knowledge and confidence in ZEVs. In North York, Ontario, there is the Discovery Center on Plug’n Drive; British Columbia’s Emotive program supports car trips across the province, and EV Assist and Next Drive in Nova Scotia provide information and experience opportunities.

The ZEVAI is designed to build on these existing efforts. The initiative was built on the premise that knowledge leads to trust, which leads to action.

We recognize that the ZEV momentum is growing, so we are excited to provide funding for projects that are innovative and collaborative in nature and that have national reach or that address more localized barriers in different regions. We are also looking for projects that fall within the government’s priority of equity, diversity and inclusion.

EA: This call for tenders is for projects that are due to be completed by 2023. Would you say ZEV education is a priority with long-term significance, or is it something that will primarily require attention and attention? short-term funding?

Thierry Spiess: The activities supported which deal with awareness and education in VZE are important for several reasons. Technology continues to evolve rapidly in ways that we perhaps cannot imagine today. Continuous updating of information and tools for consumers and businesses will be essential. Under-represented groups would likely continue to benefit from ZEV awareness and education initiatives, to ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to ZEV technologies.

Concerted efforts over time ensure that Canadians across the country have the confidence to upgrade to an ZEV. It will not happen overnight.

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