Person charging EVs in Saskatoon
Image source: City of Saskatoon video

Saskatoon’s latest pilot involves adding four Chevy Bolt’s to the municipal fleet, which the city is leasing to study emissions reductions, cost savings as well as vehicle durability

Saskatchewan’s largest city is leading the province in the transition to electric vehicles with the launch of a small pilot program that could net thousands in savings.

The City of Saskatoon is leasing four Chevy Bolts to study the savings and benefits of going electric in their fleet vehicles. The Bolts will be used by Saskatoon Light & Power and facilities management workers. Saskatoon’s municipal fleet consists of roughly 470 vehicles, which the city has pledged to transition entirely to electric by 2030 — part of a larger initiative to lower the province’s overall emissions 80 per cent by 2050.

“Electric vehicles are new, but with changes to our climate and legislation, they are expected to become the new normal,” roadways and fleet director Goran Saric said in a press release about the pilot.

“By piloting these vehicles now, we can properly prepare for the infrastructure they require, as well as benefit from their lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower maintenance costs and cleaner energy source.”

The project carries a price tag of $200,000, which includes leasing the vehicles and installing charging infrastructure to support them. The city is especially keen to see how the vehicles and the chargers perform in all of Saskatoon’s seasons.

“Electric vehicles are new, but… they are expected to become the new normal”

Goran Saric, Director of Roadways, Fleet & Support, City of Saskatoon

Cost/benefit analysis

Studies of electric vehicles indicate a full fleet transition could lower the city fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 per cent per vehicle or four to six metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. In addition, there is also a strong financial argument to be made for going to EVs.

Calculations put together by the province’s utility, SaskPower, demonstrate the potential savings between internal combustion engine vehicles and their electric counterparts. While the purchase cost for the Chevy Bolt is just over double the Chevy Cruz ICE equivalent, the yearly fuel savings show charging will cost $458 per year compared to $1,489 at the pump.

City staff estimate it costs the city roughly $11,500 per year to fuel four combustion vehicles in their fleet. The four Chevy Bolts in the pilot are projected to cost $1,900 per year to charge, netting an over all $9,600 in savings.

Encourage public adoption

Among provinces, Saskatchewan is lagging in adoption with just 400 EVs registered. But demonstrations of EV usability at the municipal government level may encourage members of the public that electric vehicles are tried and tested transportation. Last summer, the city integrated one electric bus — supplied by BYD — into its public transit network for a pilot program.

As with the Chevy Bolt pilot, the electric bus pilot points to the value to Saskatoon and the larger Canadian public of demonstrating how EVs perform in harsh Canadian winters. January temperatures in Saskatoon averaged -21C this winter, but the coldest days can see the mercury plummet to -35C or lower. So far the city hasn’t publicly reported any problems with their EVs.

While Saskatchewan doesn’t currently offer a provincial rebate, buyers will still benefit from the federal purchase incentive.

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