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The Clean & Prosperous Institute recently led a Study Mission delegation visit to Québec City and Montréal, to learn from government ministries and private businesses about Québec’s experience with Cap-and-Invest implementation, and how it has catalyzed economy-boosting innovation in the province. A highlight of the trip was our visit to the Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI) on the outskirts of Montréal.

When our delegation pulled into the IVI parking lot, it seemed that just about every parking space had an EV charger. And that stands to reason, as IVI sees its mission as a vehicle innovation catalyst to be “helping companies develop new technology, and helping consumers adopt new technology”.

One of many specialized research centers across Canada, IVI is a non-profit founded by the government of Canada, but funded by projects contracted with private companies. Among the projects we heard about were:

The electrification of school buses, described by our hosts as “a home run”. Their client for this project was Lion Electric, Québec-based manufacturer of trucks and buses.

Another project was completed for Québec’s Elmec: A prototype autonomous and electric agricultural robot.

We got to see a heavy-duty all-electric dump truck in action – utilizing an IVI-developed electric propulsion system adapted to the difficult conditions of Canada’s open-pit mining industry. Describing this project, IVI says, 

Within the next 20 years, all mines will be in the process of eliminating diesel vehicles, as they represent a considerable operating cost and are the source of a significant portion of their greenhouse gas emissions. Several manufacturers have already proposed electric versions of on-road vehicles that are not adapted to Canadian open-pit mining conditions or intended for underground operations. Indeed, this extremely harsh environment requires adequate technologies capable of performing in very cold climatic zones.

As part of this project, IVI and its industrial partners, Adria, TM4, Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG), Fournier et Fils, and the NRC have joined forces to design and develop an electric propulsion system specifically adapted to heavy mining vehicles. The development of this solution also involves the design and development of a high-power battery system technology and a fast charging infrastructure adapted to mining operations. The type of vehicle used for this project is a 40 ton dump truck produced by Daimler Western Star model 6900XD. The solutions being developed will be tested at NMG’s new site.

Here’s a video of what we saw:

Another vehicle that caught our eye while touring the IVI facility was the CAFU mobile charging van.

Dubai’s CAFU partnered with IVI to design and build the prototype CAFU En Charge mobile electric vehicle charger and app, and it is now being tested as a commercial service on the streets of Montréal. The service is described in this one-minute video:


“We had the whole world to go to… ” said Jean-François Lapierre, senior vice president international and head of special projects at CAFU, in an interview with Electric Autonomy. “But ultimately what clinched the deal was seeing how impressive the clean transportation ecosystem is in the province and the expertise it has in developing EV innovations.”

The power of a clean transportation ecosystem and world-class expertise in clean technology innovation to attract business investment validated the perspective of many in the study mission delegation.

Québec advances its clean transportation ecosystem with Propulsion Québec, a non-profit, government-supported, membership-model, collaboration cluster for electric and smart transportation. The study mission delegation was briefed by Propulsion Québec’s Romain Gayet, Director of Commercialization & Supply Chain, on their Ambition EST 2030 Electric and Smart Transportation ecosystem roadmap. This is an acceleration plan that aims to make Québec a world leader in electric and smart transportation by 2030.

Like Québec, Washington state is a research & development hub. On the 2023 list of most innovative states, Washington leads all but Massachusetts (and D.C.). 

Helping to drive innovation in Washington is the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle – an independent nonprofit science and technology organization – for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. 

PNNL conducts research on advanced battery technology, grid resiliency, biofuels, energy storage and much, much more.

Recently 13 organizations from across various sectors — convened by the clean energy nonprofit RMI, the carbon mineralization company Carbfix, and PNNL — were awarded $3 million by the US Department of Energy to study the feasibility of a regional hub for direct air capture (DAC), carbon mineralization, and carbon management in eastern Washington and neighboring states.

Perhaps our hosts in Québec will plan a trip to visit us here in Washington state. If they do, we’d like to show them the work being done at PNNL.