Canada - Research

By Country


National research

Canada has well-established ongoing federal research programs supporting more energy-efficient transportation, including PHEVs, EVs and fuel cell vehicles. In addition to Natural Resources Canada’s long standing Program of Energy Research and Development, a number of short-term research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) programs also provide support for activities related to EVs. Each of these programs is briefly explained below.


The Program of Energy Research and Development (PERD) is a federal, interdepartmental program operated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). PERD funds research and development (R&D) designed to ensure a sustainable energy future for Canada in the best interests of both the economy and environment. It directly supports energy R&D conducted in Canada by the federal government and is concerned with all aspects of energy supply and use. 

The Clean Transportation Systems Portfolio, under PERD, supports R&D in the five following program areas:

  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
  • Advanced Structural Materials for Next-Generation Vehicles
  • Advanced Fuels and Technologies for Emissions Reduction
  • Particles and Related Emissions
  • Electric Mobility

Electric Mobility Program  

The initial phase of the Electric Mobility Program concentrates on PHEVs and focuses its efforts on four activity areas: energy storage systems; electric drive components; powertrain optimization; and development of regulations for emissions and fuel efficiency.

Electric Mobility Program Highlights from 2010–2011:

The Electric Mobility (EM) Program brings together more than 30 principal investigators from five government departments to share results on 18 projects. The EM Program is focused on issues surrounding adoption of PHEVs in the Canadian marketplace. While most of the resources are directed at improving energy storage systems and developing measurement protocols and baseline data on energy efficiency and emissions, attention is also being directed to new materials that reduce the weight of electric drive components, and on developing and applying advanced powertrain modeling systems.

New electrolyte chemistries, electrode materials, and fabrication techniques are being investigated. Significant advances are being made in identifying and understanding new materials for Li-ion batteries that are safer, less expensive, and have higher energy and power densities. This is integral to the commercial success of PHEVs. Industry collaborators are developing new formats of cells and battery packs, and addressing cold-weather performance.

Recommended practices have been developed and published, through a Canada-US/government-industry task force (SAE J1711) for measuring exhaust emissions and fuel economy of HEVs, including PHEVs. The EM Program has a particularly valuable contribution to make through the cold- weather testing of EVs and PHEVs to ensure that the Canadian context of this promising, clean transportation mode is evaluated and addressed through technology, policy, and regulation.

The Clean Energy Fund

The Clean Energy Fund (CEF), part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan, provides $795 million over five years for research and development and the demonstration of promising technologies, including large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects and renewable energy and clean energy systems demonstrations. Through the CEF, the Federal Government is supporting the following three projects which include an EV component.

  1. Utility-Scale Electricity Storage Demonstration Using New and Re-purposed Lithium Ion Automotive Batteries
  2. Interactive Smart Zone Demonstration in the City of Boucherville, Québec
  3. Community-Scale Solar Project of Colwood in British Columbia

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

NSERC is a federal agency that supports university students in their advanced studies, promotes discovery research, and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects. NSERC investments in automotive research in 2009–10 totaled $24.7 million. The following are some of the automotive research activities NSERC funds.

Automotive Partnership Canada

Announced in April 2009, Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) is a five-year, $145 million initiative that supports collaborative, industry-driven R&D involving automotive companies, universities and government labs. This initiative is a partnership between five federal research and granting agencies under the Industry Canada umbrella.  NSERC, one of the five federal granting agencies participating in APC, has committed $85 million to this initiative. Research projects approved to date will focus on reducing weight by using more plastic parts in engines, improving the efficiency of transmissions, advancing the state-of-the-art in longer-range EVs (e.g., thermal management system technology development), and boosting auto software productivity and quality.


AUTO21, a federal Network of Centres of Excellence, is helping to build a stronger, sustainable and globally competitive automotive sector in Canada. The network engages more than 200 researchers and more than 200 industry, government, and institutional partners from across Canada. Network projects explore issues that range from consumer education in the use of safety devices, to new or improved processes for design, materials and manufacturing, to advance fuel research. In 2009–10, the network benefited from $5.8 million in support from NSERC, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles Program (eTV)

Over the past four years (2007–2011), Transport Canada’s ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles (eTV) program has worked in collaboration with governments, industry, and academics to test and evaluate the performance of advanced vehicle technologies in Canada, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, clean diesel, and advanced gasoline vehicles. Test results are helping to inform the development of codes, standards, and regulations required to help introduce EVs in Canada in a safe and timely manner.  

Provincial research: Québec

The Province of Québec continues to be very active in the area of R&D for EVs, as demonstrated by the following initiatives:

  • The Fonds québecois de la recherché sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT), a provincial research fund, awarded $1 million to four universities for research projects related to EVs.
  • The Programme d’aide au développement des technologies de l’énergie verte (PADTEV), a clean energy program, has a total budget of $8 million, and includes a research, development and demonstration component specific to EVs.
  • The Hydro-Québec Research Institute (IREQ) conducts research aimed at discovering new materials to increase battery life and performance. Patents resulting from this research have been applied to ground transportation and energy storage. IREQ is developing a battery with longer life expectancy and faster recharge rates than current lithium-ion batteries.
  • The Industrial Research Chair in Energy Storage and Conversion from the University of Montreal is working on perfecting energy storage materials to enable their production and application on a large scale.
  • The Institut du transport avancé du Québec (ITAQ), Québec’s advanced transportation research institute, offers a number of specialized services to businesses and researchers. The institute conducts applied research specifically related to EVs. A $5.4 million investment has been allotted for the deployment of a new advanced transportation laboratory at ITAQ.

Provincial research: British Columbia

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) was established in 2008 by the University of Victoria, in partnership with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Northern British Columbia, with a $94.5 million endowment from the Province of B.C.  PICS partners conduct ongoing research in areas related to climate change and energy. To date, PICS has issued one white paper on electric transportation (Electrifying the B.C. Fleet, November 2009), and is supporting a number of graduate research projects and internships in PHEVs and grid-aware charging infrastructure. 

The BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) is conducting testing and research in grid-aware charging technologies in support of the B.C. PHEV activities. This PHEV and charging infrastructure work is a component of BCIT’s intelligent electricity microgrid system, the first such system in B.C., led by BCIT’s Group for Advanced Information Technology. BC Hydro and BCIT are conducting a joint Distributed Power Connections Study at BCIT’s AFRESH house, a component of the microgrid system at BCIT and a vehicle-to-grid ready facility.