The rooftop solar installation at the University of Toronto can be used to charge this electric car, says Professor Trecases (photo by Marit Mitchell)

Canadian-made electric car comes to U of T

A2B, the world’s only completely Canadian designed and made electric car, is rolling onto the University of Toronto campus.

Olivier Trescases, a professor in the Energy Group of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, has collaborated over the past two years with the car’s manufacturer, Toronto Electric. He struck a deal with the company’s president, Steve Dallas, to bring the one-of-a-kind vehicle to U of T.

“It’s definitely unique—nowhere in Canada will you find a vehicle like this,” says Trescases. “It’s exciting because this is far beyond what we could possibly build in-house. Even the chassis is custom-designed to house the massive 380-kilogram lithium battery pack. Aside from my own projects, I hope that this car gets our ECE students excited about electric mobility, in the same spirit of Team Blue Sky. We even have a rooftop solar installation that can be used to charge this EV and turn it into a true zero-emission vehicle.”

A2B was born out of Dallas’s drive to create a powerful and zippy electric car unlike anything the American auto-makers were producing.

“I wanted to create something that was Canadian,” says Dallas. “Something that if you looked at it, you’d say, ‘What is that? It doesn’t look like a GM or a Ford.’”

Dallas and Trescases had worked together to analyze A2B’s energy consumption and battery performance in the past, and it became apparent to both what a rare testbed the car provided. Through their ongoing collaboration on battery management and hybrid energy storage systems, Trescases’ group gains unfettered access to all the vehicle’s hardware and software systems—an unprecedented opportunity for modification and testing.

“It’s an open platform to us, and that’s what makes it incredibly valuable,” says Trescases.

Trescases has a few modifications to make before he and Dallas show the vehicle this fall at EVVÉ2013, Electric Mobility Canada’s annual conference and trade show in Gatineau, Quebec. In the future, he hopes to test out new power converters, control algorithms and a different battery management system—modifications that would be impossible on commercially available electric vehicles.

A2B is an extraordinary engineering platform, and it’s road-worthy and licensed. But how does it handle?

“It’s a really fun car on the racetrack,” says Dallas. “It drives like a tank because it’s done with all race-car gear—completely custom-made everything.”

Watch out for Trescases and his students tearing around campus starting this summer — in the name of research, of course.

Marit Mitchell is a writer with the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto.

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