Caravan or convoy of trucks in line on a country highway
Natural Resource Canada is looking to decarbonize medium- and heavy-duty transportation with two funding streams: the Green Freight Program and the Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI).

The call for proposals are open for both the Green Freight Program and the Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative

Natural Resource Canada is looking to decarbonize medium- and heavy-duty vehicle (MHDV) transportation with two funding streams: the Green Freight Program and the Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative.

The programs will encourage commercial fleets to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles and technologies. They will also providing educational tools for the sector. According to NRCan, over 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Canada come from freight transportation.

“By investing in fleet-wide solutions, the Government of Canada is supporting truckers in reducing emissions while maintaining our vital supply chains and getting Canadians the products they need on time,” says Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a press statement.

Projects accepted under the Green Freight Program will help fleets reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through MHDV retrofits.

The Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI) program targets projects that raise awareness and knowledge among fleet operators about zero- or low-emission MHDVs.

Both programs are now accepting applications.

Green Freight Program

The Green Freight program is a new initiative to provide cost assistance for vehicle decarbonization. From 2018 to 2022, the government ran the Green Freight Assessment Program. That initiative committed $3.4 million to provide financial assistance to freight companies seeking advice on how to switch to emissions-free operations.

Now, funding has been opened up to put the strategies into action.

Under Stream 1 of the Green Freight Program, fleets may receive up to $250,000 for third-party energy assessments and fuel-saving retrofits.

“This stream aims to increase the knowledge and capacity of the on-road freight transportation sector to adopt energy efficiency measures tailored to operational needs by providing financial support,” says the government in its Green Freight Program Applicant’s Guide.

NRCan-approved retrofits include:

  • side skirts;
  • boat tails;
  • cab heaters/coolers;
  • auxiliary power units;
  • low rolling resistance tires; and
  • tire pressure monitoring systems.

Applications for Stream 1 will be accepted until the funding ($200-million) runs out.

NRCan is launching a second stream of the program next spring.

Stream 2 will provide 50 per cent cost-share contributions to a maximum of $5 million per application. Eligible projects include fuel-switching, engine repowers and large-scale enhanced logistical best-practice projects.

Funding for MDHV awareness

The federal government is also expanding its existing ZEVAI to include a MHDV stream. This is to build awareness, knowledge and consumer confidence in the adoption of zero-emission commercial vehicles.

“We’re looking to fund projects that raise awareness and educate Canadian businesses (ie freight companies, logistics providers, shippers and movers etc…) about the benefits of decarbonizing their operations, switching to clean fuels or going full electric,” wrote Thierry Spiess, senior manager of advanced vehicle programming at NRCan, in a Linkedin post.

Through cost-shared contribution agreements, this request for proposals will support outreach, education and capacity-building initiatives that enable greater uptake of zero-emission vehicles and lower-carbon vehicles in the MHDV sector.

Governments, not-for-profit and Indigenous organizations may receive up to 75 per cent of total project costs, to a maximum of $150,000 for one-year projects and $300,000 for two-year projects. For-profit organizations may get up to 50 per cent of project costs — $100,000 for one-year and $200,000 for two-year projects.

The call for proposals will close on March 13, 2023.

Ongoing support for MDHV decarbonization

Both the Green Freight Program and the ZEVAI builds on the Incentive for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles (iMHZEV) program. The government launched iMHZEV in July to make it easier for businesses and communities to switch to commercial zero-emission vehicles.

The program is anticipated to reduce emissions up to 200,000 tonnes per year by 2026. By 2030 it will grow to three million tonnes per year.

The government also has a target that all MHDVs sold in Canada will be zero-emission by 2040, where feasible.

“Canada is making strides in reducing emissions from transportation as part of our efforts to build a prosperous net-zero economy,” says Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, in a press release. 

“This is how we are making progress on greening our commercial fleets as Canadian drivers access sustainable options to save money on gas while reducing emissions.”