More Than A Plug: Canada's EV Opportunity
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November 7, 2022
The Empire Club of Canada Presents
More Than a Plug: Canada's EV Opportunity
Chairman: Sal Rabbani, President, Board of Directors, Empire Club of Canada
Adrienne Batra, Editor in Chief, Toronto Sun
Distinguished Guest Speakers
Bob Espey, President & CEO, Parkland Corporation
John Matovich, EVP, Energy Solutions and Growth, Alectra
Arcady Sosinov, Founder & CEO, FreeWire Technologies
Miles Pittman, Partner, BLG
Head Table Guests
Shakir Chambers, Principal, Earnscliffe Strategy Group
Jim Crossland, CEO, Teneo
Monica James, Regional Leader, Client Diversity, Chair, Indigenous Peoples ERG, BDC
Mike Van Soelen, Principal, Navigator, Board Director, Empire Club of Canada
It is a great honour for me to be here at the Empire Club of Canada today, which is arguably the most famous and historically relevant speaker’s podium to have ever existed in Canada. It has offered its podium to such international luminaries as Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Audrey Hepburn, the Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, and closer to home, from Pierre Trudeau to Justin Trudeau; literally generations of our great nation's leaders, alongside with those of the world's top international diplomats, heads of state, and business and thought leaders.
It is a real honour and distinct privilege to be invited to speak to the Empire Club of Canada, which has been welcoming international diplomats, leaders in business, and in science, and in politics. When they stand at that podium, they speak not only to the entire country, but they can speak to the entire world.
Welcome Address by Sal Rabbani, President, Board of Directors, Empire Club of Canada
Welcome to the 119th season of the Empire Club of Canada. To our in-person attendees joining us at One King West Hotel in Toronto, and our virtual audience joining in live or on demand, thank you for your support. Our mandate at the Empire Club is to engage and advance the dialogue on what matters most to Canadians. To accomplish this mandate, we must ask thoughtful questions, offer our insights, and lead discussions on social media, in our homes, and at public forums such as this one. Your participation is the path to positively influencing Canada's institutions and thought leadership. Welcome. My name is Sal Rabbani, and I'm the President of the Board of Directors, the Empire Club of Canada.
To formally begin this afternoon, I want to acknowledge that we are gathering today on the traditional and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the homelands of the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wyandot Peoples. We encourage everyone to learn more about the traditional territory on which you work and live.
Turning to today's program, I want to recognize the Empire Club's board of directors, staff and volunteers. Thank you for your contributions in making this event a success. We're experiencing a global energy transition. And the transportation sector’s electrification of vehicles is at the apex of that transition. For millions of Canadians, this change impacts how we refuel our cars, commute to work, and drive around our cities. The impact is where organizations can seize opportunities for innovation and enhancing the customer experience. Today's discussion will help map out these opportunities and understand what is happening right now to support the future electrification of the transportation sector.
The Empire Club of Canada is a not-for-profit organization, and we'd like to recognize our sponsors who generously support the club and make these events possible and complimentary for our online viewers to attend. Thank you to our lead event sponsor, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP; thank you to our VIP reception sponsor TENIO; and thank you to our supporting sponsor, Roy Foss Thornhill. Thank you also to our season sponsor, Bruce Power.
For those joining us online, if you require technical assistance, please start a conversation with our team using the chat button on the right-hand side of your screen. We're accepting questions from the audience for our speakers by scanning the QR code found on your program booklet for those of you in the room here today, or through the Q&A button under the video player. It is now my pleasure to invite Miles Pittman, Partner at BLG, to provide the opening remarks. Miles, welcome.
Opening Remarks by Miles Pittman, Partner, BLG
Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Miles Pittman. I'm a partner in the Energy Law Group at BLG in Calgary. BLG is delighted to support the Empire Club of Canada's series of conversations of issues affecting Canadians. Thanks very much for bringing us together for today's discussion on electric vehicles and how their increased use by drivers across the country will shape our future. At BLG, we're very focused on Canada's energy transition, and the future of energy more broadly. Panels like this help us all understand where we are now and where we're going. And the EV transition is at the forefront. Now, enough from the lawyers. I'm looking forward to a lively discussion. And welcome to the stage today's moderator, Adrienne Batra, Editor in Chief of the Toronto Sun, and our esteemed industry panellists. Thanks very much.
Adrienne Batra, Editor in Chief, Toronto Sun
Can everybody hear me? I project more than perhaps others. Welcome. It is going to be an interesting conversation, because there is not a day that goes by that you don't hear something about what's happening in the EV space. ZEV, all these new acronyms are out there. So luckily, we've put together a very knowledgeable group of individuals who are going to talk about the future of this, and opportunities for consumers, and ancillary benefits when it comes to the reality of moving to ZEV. So, let me begin by introducing our first panellist. Bob Espey is the President and CEO of Parkland; I’d like him to join me on the stage. We can thank our next guests for this great Toronto weather because he came to us from California; Arcady Sosinov is the CEO of FreeWire. And John Matovich is the Executive Vice President for Energy Solutions and Growth for Alectra. Welcome.
All three of you bring a unique perspective to this new burgeoning and emerging market of electronic vehicles and the reality that we're facing. Governments all over the world are mandating to get to what is referred to as ZEV, zero-emissions, by 2035; some countries are 2040. So Bob, let me just start with you. From Parkland’s perspective, what is it that you're looking at in the market, and from a consumer perspective? Where do you—that’s a broad question, but let's hear your opening salvo.
Bob Espey, President & CEO, Parkland
Yeah, sure. And thanks, Adrienne. And thanks to the Empire Club for hosting this event. It's always great to get together and speak with folks in the industry. You know, look, Parkland is an energy distribution company. So, we make our living supplying gasoline, diesel jet, and propane. We sell it across multiple markets, we're in 25 countries. We sell it through a distribution network of over 3500 sites—those are retail and commercial sites—and this transition is something that we're paying attention to. Now, that being said, you know, when you look at—we're in the early part of the transition, and it's something that I do want to make sure that we highlight. And as much as we all do want to transition, and Parkland certainly wants to be at the forefront of that, we need to protect our current energy system as well, through that transition. We've seen what happens when that gets neglected recently in Europe. And ultimately, consumers want cheap, affordable, and reliable energy for their transportation and to heat their homes. And throughout the transition, we have to remember that, right?
Now, that being said, the opportunity to participate in the transition and move Canada and other jurisdictions to a lower carbon energy complex is a vast opportunity. The capital that's going to be required and the innovation that's going to be required is going to be massive. Our company sees that as a great opportunity, and we're leaning in. And one of the spaces—among many—where we're leaning in is in the area of EVs. And you know, it's interesting when you look at the EV market and how that started to develop, you know, I think there's sort of three things that we've seen happen. So, the first is cracking the code of the performance of the vehicle, and I think we have Elon Musk to thank for that with Tesla, right? That was sort of that first paradigm of, I can actually own an EV that performs similarly to an internal combustion vehicle.
The second thing is price, right? So, it's going to cost me more to have an EV. And if you look at total cost of ownership, you know, this year it's kind of reached parity, even without subsidies. You know, when you look at the capital, the energy, the maintenance, all of that in, we've kind of reached parity. So, the consumer starting to say, you know what? That’s starting to make economic sense for me.
The third thing—and the third thing that we're very excited about—is the consumer experience. Because we believe that the consumer experience hasn't developed yet, and there hasn't been a breakthrough in that. When we talk to consumers, what are their worries about EVs? It's primarily two things. One is range. If I drive, I want to make sure that I can get home or get to my destination. And the second thing is time. I don't want to spend a lot of time buying my energy. You know, we live in a world now where we buy energy in two to three minutes. Now that world's transitioning to 20 to 30 minutes. Well, that's a massive opportunity for a company like Parkland. So, you know, again, we're leaning in. We see, we're at the early innings of this transition. We believe that EVs will be a big opportunity, and we believe that we can be central to that, certainly in the areas that we operate.
And we're certainly going to explore a bit more, we'll get a little bit more granular on the things that I think those are on a lot of people's minds, and that is the consumer experience. Because ultimately, if we're not building the better mousetrap, you know, consumers are going to reject this sort of thing. But Arcady, I want to bring you in. You’re from, you’re living in the state of California. And as we have this conversation, Parkland and FreeWire just announced a pretty significant partnership in the province of British Columbia. And we can talk about that, because there are other jurisdictions that are sure far ahead in terms of getting that infrastructure built than others. But from where you're sitting, even in the state that you're in, your governor announced, of course, we've got to move to ZEV by 2035. No more fossil fuel-powered vehicles off the road, all of that. Realistic, unrealistic, I don't know. But where is FreeWire in this conversation?
Arcady Sosinov, Founder & CEO, FreeWire Technologies
Well, thanks for welcoming me. And by the way, 11 states have trigger mandates that follow California's law. So, we're gonna see that across the US, and in many large places like New York, and Virginia, and others. So, my name is Arcady. I'm the CEO and founder of FreeWire technologies. And it's symbolic that I'm sitting here between Bob and John, because my mission—as a company, as a CEO—is to make sure and help Bob and his colleagues transition from providing hydrocarbons quickly and cost-effectively to providing electrons quickly and cost-effectively to consumers, while not straining the utility grid that John and his colleagues have spent such a long time building and deploying across the country. We've done that with a technology that we call battery integrated charging, which means that we package an energy storage—a battery, simply put—with charging infrastructure. And that means we can deploy high power, ultra fast charging, without stressing utility infrastructure and without requiring heavy utility upgrades.
Now states like California, who have major initiatives around ZEV, but also major government funding around it. So, we talk about the NEV program in the US, which is seven and a half billion dollars of funding, the new Inflation Reduction Act, 369 billion, of which about 60 is going towards decarbonization of transportation. But California itself, and Governor Newsom, signed 54 billion dollars in funding packages towards a variety of things, part of which—the major part of which, actually—is charging infrastructure. It's obvious in this industry now that we need government support to bridge the gap between the current utilization rates and current adoption of electric vehicles to get to right about three years from now when we see EV adoption pick up and at rapid pace. Now, EV adoption has grown significantly in some jurisdictions, as you put it, so California just announced this morning that in Q3, 18 percent of new vehicles sold were electric, fully electric.
Now, that's an incredible statistic. But it's also on par with what's happening in British Columbia. So, British Columbia is right around that same metric, maybe even slightly ahead, and we see that. Now, nationwide that's not true. I think EV adoption in Canada—correct me if I'm wrong—is about two percent; across the US, it's about five percent. But once you start to see that tipping point happen and folks find charging infrastructure available, and easy, and cost-effective, we know that the transition will occur. Because, as Bob pointed out, driving electric is just as good as driving combustion today—in some respects better—except for charging infrastructure, which is a very, very hairy problem to solve.
Thank you, Arcady. I think there's a perfect opportunity for you, John. This transition is not going to happen overnight. And as lofty as the goals are for certain governments to say, we need this in 15, 20 years, I think it's still going to be longer than that. From a utilities perspective, the one thing we always hear: we don't have enough sustainability on the grid. The grid, we always hear about the grid. California governor said, don't charge your electric vehicles. Even though we're mandating them, don't charge them, because we don't have the capacity on the grid. How are the utility companies responding to what is an inevitable tidal wave of EVs coming?
John Matovich, EVP, Energy Solutions and Growth, Alectra
Well, thanks, Adrienne. So, just by way of brief introduction, John Matovich. I'm Executive Vice President and Head of the Energy Solutions and Growth Initiatives at Alectra. Alectra is actually the largest municipally-owned utility in Canada, and the second largest in North America after Los Angeles Water and Power. And to give you a sense of that scale, we serve 17 communities in the broader sort of Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, 1.1 million customers, and have assembled a corporation by way of merger that is currently about five-and-a-half billion dollars in terms of assets. And the reason I'm excited to be part of this panel is we are trying to live up to our fundamental vision and mission statement, which is to enable our customers to achieve their preferred energy solutions on an integrated basis. And that's going to require an entirely different way of thinking from a utility perspective. And part of that difference is really—for us at least—embracing the notion of partnering with entities like you see up at this venue. Because we recognize that the old approach to simply dealing with the interconnection issue isn't going to cut it in the context that we're talking about.
You were asking about the timelines, and as Bob said—and I agree with him fundamentally—we are in the early innings here of this energy transition. I think we can all say that over the course of the last 18 to 24 months, we've seen a significant pickup in terms of the pace of that transition. Largely sponsored by a number of funding initiatives and social policy initiatives that the governments have enacted. But the timelines are going to be, in my opinion, quite longer than what's being prescribed right now. Bob made a very important point, I think, that a lot of times gets lost in the discussion is, while everyone wants to enable that transition, we cannot forget about the existing infrastructure, the existing modes of transportation. Because it's not cost-effective to make abrupt changes like this.
And I think that's part of the reality, Bob, for as we've all heard, we've heard from all three of you, of the government investment that is going to be required in order to do the charging stations. Canada just announced 500 million dollars for those types of charging stations, the Province of British Columbia—as we already know—is well ahead. They're looking at these sorts of things in Ontario. But other public policy realities put pressure on governments to make their—what the priority will be. As this is an emerging area, do you find that there has been enough focus on it is? Is the conversation about the capacity of the grid there? Or, far more needs to happen, I would presume.
Yeah, look, let me talk a bit about demand. Which, I think, you know, is the driver here. And again, the barrier to adoption is, I talked about range anxiety. And, you know, what—anybody who's done a business case, you need two things to make it work: you need some cash flow that's going to divide over some capital. And what governments can do is influence both of those. One is revenue certainty. So, how can I make sure that I actually make some cash flow to incent the investment. And the other is to lower the cost of it.
And look, I would point to BC, that is a leader in Canada and a leader in developing a regulatory framework to incent investment. Through the credit schemes that they have developed, you know, they’ve worked quite well. Not only just in the EV space, but we're also active there in areas like renewable diesel. And, you know, it really does provide a framework that allows the different firms to participate and innovate within the space. But they do have the revenue certainty through Part 3 credits—so, through carbon credits—and also, there is some help on the capital side to put the infrastructure into the market so that it will enable adoption. So, you know, I think that's key on the demand side is you need to make sure that the infrastructure is there, and that enterprises can put forward a business case to make it work—which, again, works quite well in BC.
You know, on the supply and infrastructure side—and you know, again, it's fortunate the way we've ended up sitting here, right, because we've got the, you know the, we're going further upstream the further we look, I look to the left, you look to the right—and it's interesting. Because—and Arcady’s business, FreeWire plays an integral part to that, right? So, we talked about, we did announce a partnership, because of the unique technology that they've developed, and the ability to store and, basically, provide a buffer from the grid into the vehicle. So, we're not dependent on the grid being able to actually supply. We can trickle charge this battery over time. We're not having a big draw on the utility. But then when the consumer comes up, they can get their quick charge. So, you know, that is the way the market is innovating to help with that challenge. So, but, you know....
Yeah. And I think...
Yeah, go ahead.
...I think that’s right. And I think the reality is, the infrastructure has to be deployed differently than it has in past, right?
What you're seeing in this sort of transition is it's, as Bob says, largely consumer-driven. And having an entity like Bob's, who really understands that consumer focus, I think, is an essential element. We're also going to need an element like Arcady, who's developed, you know, a very interesting technology that is both effective and modular, to be able to address some of those concerns. I think we just have to approach it a lot more differently than we have other infrastructure requirements. Which is going to require partnering and different modes of thought amongst all three of us, to be honest.
And I think that's an important point, Arcady. Because it's not like we just think of this as on the roads, right? And this is just—there's so many other modes of transportation...
...where we're going to need to expand upon this. And we certainly know in different jurisdictions in Canada, for example, they're buying the greener buses, for example.
But we're talking about boats, planes. Like, these are very significant. There's a lot of opportunity here. But I do come back, again, to this notion of—and you hear a lot of consumer complaints. There is not enough charging capacity. The, I go to the to the station, and it's not working...
...it's malfunctioning. So, from a consumer’s perspective, who's responsible for that? And as we continue to have an expansion, who is, who's in charge of all of those elements? Is it going to be run by government? Because then it's pretty inefficient.
No, it won't be run by government. I mean, let's just be very direct. The three people sitting on the stage are responsible and accountable for that consumer experience that occurs when they go and see charging stations. We all accept that responsibility, and we're here to solve that, and that's why we're working together. Let's just be frank. I mean, two to four years ago, this industry—and especially in certain markets like Canada—was an incredibly nascent industry. Electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging was, as recently as five years ago, a science project, let's just be direct. But over the last two years, we've seen many billions of dollars being announced by federal governments and state governments around the world, the EU first and then the US and Canada as well. We're talking about 370 billion dollars here, and seven-and-a-half billion dollars there. And companies that have started to deploy the technology over the last 10 years and try to figure out the market, they’ve had to grow very quickly.
Unfortunately, we're in a physical world. And that growth cannot happen as quickly as consumers expect. We are now being looked upon as critical infrastructure, as a matter of national security—which is what charging is to many countries today—and folks are expecting five-nines of reliability. By the way, as you should. Consumers should expect that, and we strive to deliver that. But it will take time. And you have to remember as consumers, the folks that are using charging infrastructure today, that's the charging infrastructure that was deployed five years ago, right? These level two chargers that are slow, in many cases not maintained or updated. They were science projects. There was no business model to speak of at that point.
The work that we're doing today, with new technologies, with major oil and gas players like Parkland who are committing significant resources and capital towards us, with utility stepping in saying, we're going to raise our hand and help solve this issue, we're going to see a different market. So, you can't compare the market that we're seeing today and what we see in charging infrastructure in the wild today, to what we will see in as little as, frankly speaking, three months or so, when we deploy our first network in British Columbia. That will be a different story.
Bob, do you find that other companies are sort of following suit? They're seeing the tidal wave coming. Are they adjusting in the market?
You know, look. I think, as in any market that's in its infancy and starting to develop, I think a lot of organizations—start-ups, existing ones—are trying to figure out the space, right? And there's—we've talked about the consumer piece; there's a technology piece, there's a digital piece, that needs to come together to enable that to happen. And you know, look, that requires organizations that can plan and think longer term. And, you know, there are many companies involved in the space. And it'll be interesting to see the way it shakes out. And the market is going to be very large. I mean, Arcady, you've got some great stats on the number of chargers that are needed to support the vehicles that will come into the market. Maybe you want to just talk about those?
Sure. There are 17,000 publicly-available chargers in Canada today. A total of 34 that have been, that are available, or have been publicly funded and are waiting for deployment. The government just announced another 50,000 chargers with that 400-million-dollar package—that gives you a total of 84—that are either live or will be funded with some sort of government incentive.
Now, how many chargers are necessary is a big question. So, if we assume Transport Canada is correct—they're assuming 4.6 million electric vehicles on the road in Canada by 2030, which is just over 10 percent of the vehicle stock in Canada, which I think is a fair estimate—the EU has put out a directive saying that we must maintain a 10:1 ratio of vehicles to chargers, right? So, for every 10 electric vehicles on the road, we need at least one charger. California has put out a similar directive, and they've said 7:1, vehicles-to-chargers. If we assume the more conservative 10:1, then for those 4.6 million vehicles on the road by 2030 we need 460,000 chargers in Canada, where we have plans today to deploy a total of 84,000. So, there's a lot to go. There's a huge market. But we need that initial government incentive for that first batch, that is happening already. Because then that creates the business model and creates the cash flows necessary for a partner like Parkland to say, we're going to invest our capital into this business and generate a return on this investment.
John, the traditional car manufacturing companies are all pivoting. Headline today: Hyundai saw a double-digit increase in their electronic vehicle consumption, or people are people wanting to get an EV. It's tied to many things. Obviously, the cost of gas. Filling up your gas tank these days is crippling for many people, and it's impossible to do. So, they look at the alternative. But they remain unaffordable for the average consumer, still. And yes, there are government subsidies. Canada is probably going to have to up its package because of what the US just did—from five thousand, they increased it to eight thousand. Where do you sort of see that commitment from government, or from consumers, in terms of the perspective of the utility company? You know, we've all established at the end of the day, it's gonna be up to you guys to ensure that there's capacity there. So, how willing is the industry to embrace that?
So I think, the way I would sort of describe the utility response to the whole electrification of transportation is, probably, in the form of nervous excitement. Like many of us probably have, as we enter into any sort of new adventure. The exciting part of it is, you have to remember that, for our industry segment, we are, you know, on the cusp of a step change in terms of load requirements, if it's not managed properly and if it's not addressed properly. And that's very exciting for an industry where traditionally you will have low single-digit growth rates—and even in some locations negative growth rates—in terms of provision of its of its primary product.
The nervousness part goes to the uncertainties in the timing of the need, the location of the need, and more importantly, how is that need going to be funded, and who's going to bear the brunt of that cost. So, we've got a little bit of that nervous anticipation. But are we embracing it? I would say that many of my sort of utility brethren are actively embracing it. By entering into discussions, partnering discussions like we're talking about here—Arcady and I were chatting, he's actually involved with a utility called Sacramento Municipal District that we're quite close to. We've made an investment to join SMUD in something called the California Mobility Centre—which is a private public partnership based out of Sacramento in California—that is really aimed towards ensuring that we get best-in-class learnings on the whole evolution of the electrification journey from a policy perspective, from a technology perspective, and from a business model perspective. And the reason we went into that was to be able to essentially learn in what is arguably one of the more advanced markets from an energy transition standpoint, and bring some of those learnings back to Ontario.
I'm just going to put this out there—and I don't know who wants to answer it—but we've established the demand is high. We know that. We know the waiting lists are growing for electronic vehicles. But what about the—we hear constantly about a lack of chips, a lack of components, a lack of minerals and that, to physically go into the materials that build the batteries. If you can't build battery, you can't get the vehicle.
Where are we on that? I don't know who wants to tackle that.
I’ll talk about...
...minerals and materials for battery manufacturing right now because I focus on that quite significantly. We purchase a huge amount of batteries from our suppliers. And what we're seeing is incredibly fast-rising prices on the....
And who is supplying it? Where are you getting the materials from? What part of the world—or is it happening in the US?
So broadly speaking, there are three big regions that supply batteries: it's Korea, Japan, China, and now the US is coming up as a significant supplier. Now, there is talk about European battery gigafactories, and it's not quite there yet. But you're either going to Korea, Japan, or China right now. Now, these companies have established manufacturing facilities in the US as well. So, we work with a company that has a manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. We buy all our batteries from Smyrna. We're Buy American compliant, which is incredibly helpful for our customer base. But the cost of raw materials is rising rapidly. So, we just did a review of the raw materials in the battery cells that we use. Lithium was up 5x year-over-year, manganese is up 40 percent, cobalt is up in the 30's percent. So, all of the raw materials used are up in cost. Supply is low to transition our entire stock of electric vehicles globally to electric. And so, what do we need to do? Do we need to mine or open new mines? Well, frankly speaking, there's a, you know, in Europe as an example, you're not going to get a mine permitted until 2032...
...right now? So, it's very difficult to do that. But there is a silver lining here. It's not just all bad news. There is a silver lining. The brilliant part about batteries, unlike hydrocarbons—when hydrocarbons are used, they're spent—when batteries are used, you can recycle all of the material in the battery and use it in the production of new batteries. Ninety-nine percent of the materials in most battery cells can be recycled and used in new batteries, with no impact on the longevity or the functionality of those new batteries. The issue is, we don't have global scaled-up recycling processes for batteries. Today, when you recycle batteries, they smelt it. And that makes it almost unusable. But there are companies coming up who are doing this. And I foresee that within about five years, once that stock of batteries starts returning, we're gonna start seeing second-life. And the impact on mining and raw materials will be significantly reduced.
And I think, Bob. And then we’ll go to John at the end.
Look, I think, I mean supply chain. I always joke with my team, you know, everything's delayed now because of the supply chain. But, you know, look, we’ll work through the supply chain issues. And I think on the on the material side, you know, it’s definitely a challenge. But what that does is it sparks innovation. And don't underestimate the power of innovation. In the oil industry a while back, people talked about peak oil. They never anticipated fracking and the energy that released. And that was all through innovation, and it drove prices down, right? So, I think you'll just see a large amount of innovation. I think there'll be some adoption issues in the short term or supply issues in the short term—and we're certainly feeling that as we try and roll this network out in BC—but, you know, I expect that that's short term, not long term.
That’s right. John?
Yeah. Just a couple of elements to sort of highlight the supply chain issues. Because the supply chain issues are very, very real. In our sort of traditional business—and upgrading our traditional sort of infrastructure, just to give you a sense—some of the key components, whereas before we would get them from the manufacturers in about three to four months, the latest quotes we're getting are 72 weeks-plus. And then other newer initiatives, where we're bidding on projects using battery solutions. Getting a manufacturer to hold their price for anything more than 30 days is virtually impossible. And so, when you're dealing with a number of these larger projects that, for example, are subject to RFP or stringent procurement processes, it is really hard to meet sort of the end objective.
So, we only have a few short minutes left. A lot of people in this room are decisionmakers in this country. And I want to give all three of you the opportunity to take a couple of minutes. Bob, I’m going to start with you. You're sitting down with all those folks who are having these discussions about the future of EVs, getting to ZEV—or ‘Zev,’ as Arcady calls it; that’s new, I learned that today—what are you going to say to them? Because they want solutions. What do you say to them?
Well, look, you know, again, the transition is happening. It's being supported by a regulatory framework that's going to push it. It is going to be a massive opportunity. There is a lot to figure out, right? It's not a straightforward opportunity. And, you know, as in any change, there tends to be lots of opportunities for organizations to innovate and make a good return on that. So, look, you know, my advice to other folks that run businesses or are in large organizations is, look at it as an opportunity, not a threat. And find the opportunity and run towards it.
It's good advice. Arcady?
I would say that for the government officials who are, again, providing funding and looking at this as a significant part of future budgets, I would think and focus on innovation, and try to limit the amount of bureaucracy and the amount of how prescriptive you get in the regulations around what charging infrastructure needs to look like. I think there is, as Bob put it, still a lot of innovation happening in the space. And it will not look like the combustion vehicle fueling of yesterday. Charging is different, and consumer behaviours will be different. And there will be a multitude and a plenitude of different solutions for charging. And being too prescriptive in some of the guidance actually stifles innovation, rather than fosters it. So, I would look across Europe, across to see what's happening in California around the innovation side, around electric vehicles charging. Whether it be wireless, whether it be charging for fleet vehicles, heavy duty, and planes are coming—I've seen boat charging as well—and look at that, and model yourself after those programs.
And John, you're uniquely positioned, because you're already working with a lot of those decisionmakers. Alectra is sort of at the forefront of that, and looking at constantly through the lens of moving the consumer in that direction. So, I want to give you the last word.
I think the advice I would give for all of the proponents in the room is really engage early and engage often, in terms of advancing your particular initiative. And the rationale for that is really twofold. One is—as you've heard from my fellow panellists here—the innovation element of this game is not to be discounted. There's a lot of change that's happening, that's happening quite quickly. And in order for us to be as responsive as we need to be, we have to have that active dialogue on a go-forward basis. You know, this isn't the same interconnection process and powering process as other sorts of developments that have happened in past. This is truly consumer-driven. This is truly multivariate in terms of the analytics that are required. And it requires an active and ongoing conversation on our part.
I want to thank all three of you, Bob, Arcady, John, for a very thoughtful conversation. I'm sure it was beneficial to, hopefully, everybody in this room, and for those of us that have joined us online. Change is coming. And you three seem to be at the forefront of it. So, that's beneficial, certainly, to have that institutional knowledge moving forward. So, thank you very much. Thank you.
Thanks, Adrienne. That was awesome. Yeah, thanks.
My pleasure. It was great. Thanks so much.
That was great. Thank you for moderating.
Thanks so much. It was a pleasure.
Concluding Remarks by Sal Rabbani
Thank you very much to Adrienne Batra, Bob Espey, John Matovich, and Arcady Sosinov. Great conversation today. And thanks again to Miles Pittman and all our sponsors for their support, and everyone joining us today or participating at a later date. As a club of record, the Empire Club of Canada events are available to watch and listen to on demand on our website. The recording of this event will be available shortly, and everyone registered will receive an email with the link.
Our next event of the season is on Thursday, November the 3rd. Join us as we host a lunch with the Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Energy in the Province of Ontario, on “Building Ontario's Clean Energy Advantage.” In the coming month, we're also pleased to host a highly anticipated keynote by the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Official Opposition of Canada. Thanks for joining us today. We invite you to stay and join us in the lobby for continued networking. Have a great afternoon. This meeting is now adjourned.