Freight trucks move on the road at autumn day time
New federal call for proposals aims to accelerate on-road decarbonization, with a focus on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The new funding, provided under Canada’s Energy Innovation Program, includes up to $1.5 million for research and development proposals and up to $5 million for demonstration projects

The federal government has issued a new call for proposals aimed at speeding up the deployment of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) and ZEV infrastructure solutions.

The call was announced last week by Julie Dabrusin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on behalf of the Natural Resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

Funding will be provided under Canada’s Energy Innovation Program (EIP).

MHDVs and ZEV infrastructure

The government says selected projects will be aimed at addressing technical or market barriers to the demonstration or deployment of low/zero-emission on-road medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) — vehicles that weigh more than 8,500 pounds such as delivery vans, refuse trucks, buses and long-haul freight trucks.

Examples include improving the energy efficiency of MHDVs with advanced materials to reduce weight or developing more cost-effective, high-performance technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and electrical powertrains.

Along with deployment of MHDVs, this call for proposals also includes ZEV infrastructure-related projects that make it easier to adopt zero-emission vehicles — such as technology that makes it easier to charge an EV in extreme cold temperatures, or solutions to better charge zero-emission vehicles in multi-unit buildings.

According to the announcement, successful applicants could each receive up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs for research and development projects with a maximum funding contribution up to $1.5 million. For demonstration projects, up to 50 per cent of total eligible project costs may be covered, with a maximum funding contribution of up to $5 million.

“The Government of Canada is supporting Canadian businesses and communities to take climate action by reducing emissions in the transportation sector and deploying clean technology solutions,” Dabrusin said in a press release.

“This call for applications will help scale research and development while supporting energy efficiency in the transportation sector across Canada.”

Indigenous organizations that apply are eligible to have 100 per cent of their total costs covered under the program.

Certain battery projects excluded

The current call for proposals will not fund ideas that are geared towards battery specific “inside-the-cell” projects. However, projects focusing on electrical powertrain components located outside the battery cells, including battery module components, such as the battery management system (BMS), are eligible.

“The Energy Innovation Program advances new technologies to reduce pollution and to protect the environment and well-being of our communities, helping deliver commitments made in Canada’s Action Plan for Clean On-Road Transportation while also supporting net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, in the release.

Road travel makes up about 17 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Freight transportation, specifically, accounts for five per cent of total emissions.

The federal government is hoping this new call for proposals will further jumpstart decarbonization efforts in the transportation sector — as it has set a goal of having 100 per cent of all MHDVs sold by 2040 be zero-emission, where feasible.

“As Canada deploys thousands of electric vehicle chargers and invests in modernizing our electrical grids, we are working with industry partners to scale clean technology solutions to drive down transportation emissions while building a sustainable and prosperous economy,” said Wilkinson in the release.

The application deadline for expressions of interest is July 20. Applicants who clear the first hurdle will be invited to submit full project proposals in the fall.

In the meantime, NRCan is holding information sessions about the RFP call June 12 (English) and June 13 (French). Information on participating may be found here.