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Our electric vehicle future: It’s closer than you think

Despite problems with everything from global supply chains to local charging infrastructure, Canada is about to rapidly adopt electric vehicles. Here’s why.



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Is it time for you to buy an electric car? You may be answering ‘yes’ to that question sooner than you think. Because things are about to change rapidly.

By 2026, 20% of all passenger cars, trucks and SUVs sold in Canada will be electric vehicles (EVs). By 2030, that number jumps to 60%. And in 2035, every vehicle sold in Canada will be electric.

These are no longer unenforceable targets, but regulated mandates, per Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, who announced them in December 2022. 

So, you may be wondering – how exactly is all this going to happen? 

Canada is – seemingly – a long ways off from being able to hit those targets. EVs make up about one out of every eight sales of new cars in the world. In Canada, however, that number is just one in 14. Without further joint action by automakers, governments and consumers, Canada could fall far short of its goals. And that’s before you realize that broad-scale EV adoption requires the provinces and federal government to play nice with each other — not always their strong suit. Ultimately, you’re forgiven if you’re feeling a little skeptical about EVs.

So, why are we likely to see such accelerated change?

By no later than next year we’ll see price parity between electric passenger vehicles and traditional (internal combustion engine) passenger vehicles. And that’s just one important area where all trends are pointing towards an electrified future.

Here’s a look at the key questions Canada will need to answer to meet its EV ambitions.

How will Canada respond to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act?

Government policy. Sure, it can get a little boring, but stay with us here because this is critical stuff.

The U.S. has previously been accused of dragging its heels on the energy transition (and EV adoption). Not anymore. It’s now moving ambitiously and aggressively, and they’re going to drag Canada along for the ride.

In August 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. The legislation commits almost $400 billion (U.S.) over 10 years to clean energy, including a combination of grants, tax credits, and loan guarantees. The legislation includes significant tax credits for the purchase of EVs, incentives for upgrading charging infrastructure, and other measures that will accelerate EV adoption.

The IRA is a signature piece of legislation in the battle against the climate crisis, and it has been received as a game-changer for the energy transition — and EVs. In fact, many countries are now scrambling to respond to the legislation to stay competitive, and Canada is no exception.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland recently told reporters the Inflation Reduction Act has changed the playing field with respect to competition for global capital. 

Freeland: “I cannot emphasize too strongly how much I believe that we need to seize the moment and build the clean economy of the 21st century. This is a huge economic opportunity.”

While Canada has already put policies in place to incentivize clean energy, electrification, and EV adoption, we’re likely to see a whole different level of policy ambition, starting in this spring’s federal budget. 

Freeland and the federal Liberals are ready to go big.

Can Canadians even get electric cars if they want them?

Okay, this is a problem. Demand for EVs is increasing in part because of the available rebates — including up to a $5000 tax rebate from the federal government on top of provincial subsidies — but there is a lack of supply and long waiting lists around the country. At what point does a consumer look at a 12 or 15 month wait time and say, “I’ll just get another ‘normal’ car right now?”

The National Observer recently reported that even the feds are struggling to electrify Canada’s public fleets in part because of how global supply chain delays have affected vehicle availability. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and shortages of key materials like chips are all constraining local supply of finished EVs.

The good news here is that automakers are taking advantage of incentives (both carrots and sticks) and ramping up their production. Today, availability is a huge problem, but that’s going to be temporary. 

Automakers see the economic opportunity the same way the federal government does and most of them are planning for a fully electric future.

Will Canadians be able to find places to charge their electric vehicles?

There are two issues here: charging at home and charging on the go. And — stop us if you’ve heard this one before -— Canada is way behind on both. 

We’re finally moving faster on charging options for people away from their homes. The federal government has announced that it would invest in 50,000 new charging stations across the country by 2027. That would bring federally funded charging infrastructure to 85,000 units.

It’s trickier at home. While homeowners will be able to take advantage of tax incentives to make sure they can charge their vehicles at home, more than a third of the country doesn’t live in a detached house. And some of those that do are renting and can’t necessarily install charging stations without landlord approval.

Imagine the charging challenge in a city like Toronto or Vancouver where millions live in apartments and condos. How does a high-rise apartment provide enough charging capability for all the people living there? Will residents be forced to use public charging infrastructure? How much will that push them away from buying EVs? 

There are no easy answers to these questions.

Will Canadians trust electric vehicles not to leave them stranded in the dead of winter?

‘Range anxiety’ is the phrase used to describe the fear that an EV won’t be able to get you to where you need to go without running out of charge.

‘Don’t want to end up stranded on the highway at thirty below’ is the phrase some Canadians use to explain why they don’t want to buy an EV.

Range anxiety used to be a huge issue for prospective buyers, but the majority of vehicles available in Canada now offer between 300-400 km per charge, if not more. That’s plenty for daily commuting and weekend errands. And with a national network of fast-charging stations, even long trips become less stressful.

But. (And there’s always a but, isn’t there?) EVs underperform in cold weather. 

And Canada is one of the coldest major countries on earth.

A recent report found that EVs can lose up to 30 percent of their range in freezing temperatures. Innovation may eventually cure that problem. Or not. But until then, consumers will need to balance price, tax incentives, lifestyles, and charging infrastructure in making their purchase decisions. 

Here in early 2023, it’s easy to see them landing on the side of ‘waiting until later’.

The bottom line on EVs

There is no argument about the future of EVs. They are going to become the dominant, and eventually exclusive, vehicles on our roads. 

The real question is how fast that happens.

For perhaps the first time in history, government policy, consumer interest, manufacturer intent, and climate urgency are all finally working together to drive change. Change can rightly be seen as far away, but it’s also oh-so-close.

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News desk

Self-driving car revolution is coming, but slowly




So far full self-driving cars are limited to certain areas, like this Waymo car in San Francisco
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In Munich, where this week’s IAA motor show is taking place, an interactive street survey elicits an overwhelming “yes” when asking passers-by if they would take a self-driving taxi from the station to the Oktoberfest beer festival.

But while the number of coloured balls placed in the “yes” column shows no shortage of enthusiasm, experts say the long-promised future of autonomous cars remains some way off.

“Five years ago, we thought that by 2025 we would have significant autonomy in many vehicles, which is not the case,” said Christophe Aufrere, chief technical officer of car-parts maker Forvia.

Pandemic-related disruptions to the car industry, a shift towards investing in electrification and the sheer complexity of the technology have all contributed to keeping the autonomous-driving revolution stuck in the slow lane.

Now, “we’re more inclined to say it will happen by 2030,” Aufrere told AFP.

Ahead of the pack, German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz has received international approval for its “level three” autonomous driving system in accordance with United Nations standards.

The hands-free level three allows for autonomous driving in certain conditions such as heavy traffic or motorway speeds up to 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph). The driver can take their eyes off the road but must be ready to intervene if needed.

The system is available as an option on the flagship Mercedes S-Class, which has a six-figure price tag.

Honda won a world-first approval to sell level three autonomous cars in Japan in 2021.

But the vast majority of today’s commercially available cars come equipped with “level two” partial automation at best.

That includes Tesla’s well-known “autopilot” and offers features such as adaptive cruise control or automated parking — while the driver remains alert at all times.

– ‘Step by step’ –

But the driverless “robotaxis” teased by the Munich survey remain a futuristic dream in most cities, with Europe lagging behind the United States and China in trialling such services in the real world.

These “level four” vehicles, like the robot cabs from Waymo or Cruise used in San Francisco, can operate without human intervention within designated areas.

The uneven deployment in Europe wasn’t down to regulations or technological challenges but rather a matter of funding that was harder to come by on the continent, according to Christophe Perillat, CEO of French automotive supplier Valeo.

Nevertheless, “autonomous vehicles are making progress year after year,” Perillat said at the IAA.

Professor Lutz Eckstein from RWTH Aachen University agreed, saying “significant advances” were on the horizon.

So-called level 2+ systems that also monitor the driver’s attentiveness and fatigue are expected to become more widespread, he said, predicting that the number of level three systems on the market would also increase.

“By the end of the decade, we want to achieve the ability to drive on the motorway at speeds of 130 kilometres per hour,” a Mercedes spokesperson told AFP.

The company aims to offer level four highly-automated driving by the same deadline.

“The idea is to proceed step by step,” confirmed Forvia’s CTO Aufrere. “Because we want to be sure it works.”

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 Where will AI go next?

This year’s Collision conference featured a wide range of buzzy AI solutions — both B2B and for consumers.



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The buzzy topic of AI was not in short supply at this year’s annual Collision conference in Toronto. The list of applications using the technology was seemingly endless — from both the presenters and exhibitors. 

It comes at a unique time, as analysis of the industry reveals that we’ve crossed into the “era of deployment.” At the same time, it’s imperative that we think critically and ask questions about said deployment.

In June, Research and Markets revealed a study demonstrating how the AI industry has experienced immense expansion and maturation in recent years, from a $62B market in 2020, to projections saying 40% growth annually until 2026. 

Meanwhile, the 2023 AI Index, an independent initiative at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), reports that:

  • AI systems can both have a large carbon footprint (when training), and be “used to optimize energy use”
  • Incidents of AI misuse is “rapidly” on the rise. As the Stanford team explains, ‘more AI, more problems”
  • There was a 27% decrease in Global AI private investment (year-over-year) from 2021 to 2022. At the same time, over the last decade, investment has increased —  in 2022, it was 18 times greater than in 2013.
  • Companies that have adopted AI are pulling ahead, while the proportion of those adopting AI has actually plateaued.
  • Only 35% of Americans surveyed agree that “products and services using AI had more benefits than drawbacks,” compared to 78% of Chinese respondents, 76% from Saudi Arabia, and 71% from India.

It seems clear that the sector is at something of a crossroads.

DX Journal spoke to four AI startups at Collision, covering areas like filing taxes, DIY home and appliance repair, game building, and building work teams — all showing how AI can have an impact both at home and the workplace.

DIY home maintenance, with a little AI help

Collision presenter Eradj Khaidarov, Chief Technology Officer of IrisCX, spoke on the topic of “Delivering a more human experience through visual intelligence and AI.” He transitioned from twenty years in the video conferencing field to IrisCX, a video-based troubleshooting app that helps users with DIY repair. Anything from appliances to home devices, AI determines the make, model, problem, and spits out possible solutions.

Eradj Khaidarov (Photo by Dave Gordon)

“All of us hate dealing with manuals from 10 years ago and only keep them around when we truly need them — and we also hate dealing with YouTube videos that may not necessarily answer all our questions,” he explained. “The interactions with our product can help you get to an answer faster, without having someone come to your home. It’s just the little bit of guidance that can help us solve a problem quickly and efficiently.”

AI allows the app to summarize certain markers in the conversation, to formulate what was truly the problem. 

Let AI help find your next hire

Meanwhile, Raphael Ouzan, co-founder & CEO of A.Team, wants AI to revolutionize how people build teams. 

Prior to helping found the startup, he served in the Israeli military for five years in cyberwarfare and cryptology, “finding the power-people you could work with, even in impossible missions.”

Later, he built teams as he built start-ups, and realized he wanted to build something that would enable anyone to find the right teammate — or teammates — to accomplish a greater goal.

Raphael Ouzan (Photo by Dave Gordon)

When a user logs in to A.Team, they will do a search for their preferred skill and industry, while the AI will detect keywords, suggesting the relevant team that matches the work desired. 

“I would describe it as a platform that enables the formation, management, and scaling of elite tech teams that drive massive change for companies,” he said. 

“You can look at it like a high-end UpWork, for teams.”

A.Team has raised $55 million, funded by the likes of rapper Jay-Z, and has advisors that include Fiverr founder Shai Wininger and former UpWork CEO Stephane Kasriel.

Creativity + AI

One very popular area where AI is being leveraged is for imagery, game creation, and video creation.

Unity offers tools and solutions for game developers, industrial customers, and professional artists. And as Chief Marketing Officer Carol Carpenter explains, “what we are seeing is that every pixel, every piece of art, every frame will be compacted on the creative side by AI.”

“If you draw two frames, then ask: ‘hey, draw ten more for me like this.’ Or, I want a scene in a digital twin or game, with snowing mountains. AI can offer some art to choose from.” 

Carol Carpenter (Photo by Dave Gordon)

One of their newest products, Unity Muse, launched during Collision. As Carpenter describes, it “has a feel like ChatGPT, where programmers can type in an image request, and either see it animated or developed on-demand.” 

For example, the user could input the text: “Ferrari driving down a steep hill,” and what would pop out would be AI’s creation based on the request. The user could decide to keep it as a standalone graphic, or instruct Unity Muse to make the image animate. 

From there, the sky’s the limit, although a human hand — and creativity — will always play a part.  

To build a game today with real time 3D, she explains, what’s required is experience and coding knowledge. “It’s not something you just pick up and do easily.” 

With Unity, there’s an “ability to use natural language to create, to accelerate the process,” said Carpenter. “We still very much believe the creator needs to have ideas; they need to have the spark of imagination. AI is good for getting started or a prototype. Then there needs to be polish and human element of judgment.” 

Your taxes, automated

Many believe that the best place to deploy AI is for truly mundane tasks that make sense to automate. 

In that vein, Ben Borodach and his team have brought it to tax filing.

April is touted as the first AI-powered tax system that both optimizes and files taxes, via a large language model and proprietary generative AI that reads tax law.

Ben Borodach (Photo by Dave Gordon)

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an Uber driver, an e-commerce seller, or a family with two jobs, you still get the same experience,” explained the co-founder and CEO. “A personalized leveraging of AI, where we serve up 1.2 septillion unique paths to filing returns. So every single person gets a customized flow for their specific experience.”

There are, Borodach explained, thousands of possible tax questions across federal, state, and local jurisdictions that a taxpayer could be asked. Each time the user answers a question, the program learns more about the user.

As AI technologies evolve, its growth is poised to reshape virtually every field it touches.

It is already entering our lives in an accessible, individualized way, catering to the unique needs of each user. From healthcare and education to finance and entertainment, its capabilities will soon permeate unexpected areas, transforming our lives in profound ways.

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Generative AI? “Use the thing…the only way out is through,” says expert

UPenn professor Ethan Mollick on generative AI and its future impact.



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Innovation and entrepreneurship professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Ethan Mollick recently chatted with Michael Chui on McKinsey’s Forward Thinking podcast about generative AI’s use cases, and why we need to pay close attention to its role in the workforce. 

Here are some highlights from the interview: 

People don’t understand just how much generative AI can do — specifically Chat-GPT

“We’re seeing in early controlled experiments anywhere between 30 percent and 80 percent performance improvements for individual tasks ranging from coding to writing, marketing, and business materials…To give you some context, steam power when it was added to a factory in the early 1800s increased performance by 18 to 22 percent. This is numbers we’ve never seen before.”

“People don’t like to hear that AI is creative, but it’s really—it maxes out all our creativity tasks…It gives you that volume of ideas and creativity that is a really important key to innovation.”

“I’m betting that this is the big thing. This is the moment that is really going to start changing things, that this fundamentally is going to be a shift in how we work and how we interact at a level that’s as big as anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes.”

Even experts still don’t fully understand future risks and implications of generative AI

“We don’t know where it’s going to end. We don’t know the social implications. And there’s some very immediate things about faking news, faking information, the information environment becoming polluted, not just in social media but inside companies, that I think we really are not grappling with enough.”

Generative AI will impact certain fields but smart professionals will work with it. 

“The easy, cynical answer is, go to a regulated industry, because those will take the longest time to adopt AI. Pharma, banks, hospitals, that’s the great way to go.

But the other option is, go into the storm. What’s the area that you think is going to be most affected by this? How do you become part of the new generation that uses this?”

“The future can be what we want it to be. We have agency here. So do you want this to be something where we keep our employees through this transition and we figure out ways for them to do even more and better work and we figure out how we use this as a competitive advantage to expand, rather than to cut costs?”

“I think we need to model the behavior we want to see by testing different approaches to AI that work better. I think that it’s completely plausible that we’re in a world where AI expands productivity tremendously, takes away our worst tasks. There was always this thought that AI and robots would take away the dirtiest, most dangerous tasks, coal mining, truck driving.”

“Use this thing [A]. I think the only way out is through, and I have a theory that the only way you know you’ve really started to get what this thing means is you have three sleepless nights.”

Read the full interview here

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