The City of Sudbury is incorporating fully electric vehicles into its community paramedic fleet, building on its leadership in municipal vehicle electrification
Editor’s note: this story was updated on August 4th, 2021 to include photographs of the City’s actual Tesla Model 3s
The City of Sudbury, Ont. is long associated with mining and very cold winters, but it’s also diligently making a name for itself as a zero-emissions hub in Canada. In honour of the 51st Earth Day, Sudbury has announced the purchase of four fully electric vehicles to be used by community paramedics — the latest step in its effort to meet a municipal target of a zero-emission city fleet by 2035.
A media release issued today reads, “[T]his purchase makes Greater Sudbury one of the first municipalities in Canada to add electric vehicles to its Paramedic Services fleet in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” While Sudburians won’t see the cars with flashing cherries strapped to the roof responding to 9-1-1 calls, they will see them out and about as paramedics attend to non-emergency house calls for the city’s residents, which appears to be an entirely unique application.
“I did a lot of Google searching and, as far as I know, this is, at least, the first in Canada for an [electric] EMS vehicle,” says Devin Arthur, chapter president of the EV Society in Sudbury, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada. “I got nothing but excitement from the city. The overall benefits of an electric vehicle is something they are very excited about. Sudbury is a world-renowned city for its re-greening effort and I think we’ve being trying to envision how Sudbury can build on that. I’m really excited, obviously.”
Arthur confirms exclusively to Electric Autonomy Canada that the vehicles Sudbury purchased are Tesla Model 3s.
The vehicles, which bear the City of Sudbury’s emergency decals, and are stocked with defibrillators, first response kits and other supplies in both the trunk and “frunk” of the vehicles. “They are actually able to respond if there is an emergency if needed (just no patients in the car),” wrote Arthur in an email.
Pacesetter in electric adoption
Sudbury is no stranger to battery emergency response vehicles. The city already has three hybrid ambulances and has another three on order to arrive this year. In addition, Sudbury has at least 20 hybrid light-duty vehicles in its fleet, some of which have been in operation for 10 years — including a hybrid SUV for its emergency medical service team.
“For fleet managers now there is no comparison anymore between electric and fuel. Electric [vehicles] are significantly cheaper and [fleet managers] have been looking at ways they can fit this into their budgets,” says Arthur. “We’ve been looking at ways to spur adoption and one of the ways that we had suggested early on was to have the municipality take on a leadership role to show people that EVs are relevant and that they can be used in the north.”
Arthur calls Sudbury’s goal of electrifying 100 per cent of the personal vehicles in its fleet by 2035 “pretty ambitious.”
In addition to proactive outreach to organizations like Arthur’s to become educated on EVs, much of Sudbury’s success in transitioning the city fleet can be attributed to its declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, followed by the passing of the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) by council in September 2020. In total, the plan has 18 climate goals including emission reduction and tackling pollution to make Greater Sudbury a net-zero community by 2050.
“Earth Day is an annual reminder of the importance of taking action to celebrate and protect our fragile earth — not just on April 22, but every day,” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger in the city’s press release.
“Big or small, every action we take that can help reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and our ecological footprint makes a difference. So although we can’t celebrate with friends and neighbours as we normally would, we can all still take our own steps toward making positive change for a brighter future and a net-zero Greater Sudbury.”
City leading by example
One of the key ways to demonstrate EV viability not just in the north, but in most communities, is for city officials to take a “leadership role” and pilot the technology themselves.
“Having an authoritative body like a municipality going out and purchasing these vehicles and saying, ‘Hey, look these work and we are actually saving money,’ will give people the confidence they need to go out and purchase EVs for themselves,” says Arthur. “Also the people that are driving these [four Teslas] for themselves will go back and say, ‘Hey, these are awesome. Why shouldn’t we own one, personally?'”
And therein may lie the biggest driver for adoption in a critical mineral mining town like Sudbury: every EV on the road running on a battery made from those resources is another potential dollar in the municipality’s pocket, says Arthur.
“I’ve always been saying that when you go out and purchase an EV you are reinvesting into our local economy, which will help our city in the short- and long-term.”
Editor’s note: this story was updated to reflect the latest images of the vehicles.