Widespread electric vehicles — along with a connected network of efficient transitways — are a close reality in Canadian cities. And it’s about time, too. Our transportation sector is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, accounting for 24 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, according to Statistics Canada.
In fact, transportation is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, surpassed only by Canada’s oil and gas production sector. The shift to zero-emission electric vehicles, along with intelligent traffic signalling to reduce road time, would go a long way toward the country’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
While electric doesn’t necessarily equal “cleaner” in all countries where coal and nuclear sources feed the power grid, Canada is lucky to have widespread hydroelectric sources that make up about 60 percent of our electricity. Power generated through wind farms and solar photovoltaic panels is also growing year over year, resulting in five percent of total electricity generation in 2019.
The future of transit in Canada is electric, and these three companies are focused on pushing the needle closer to a cleaner, more sustainable system.


Launched way back in 2009, forward-thinking Jule (formerly eCAMION) was founded on the premise that infrastructure for electric vehicle charging must come first — long before EVs are parked in every driveway with demand for charging stations on every corner. Jule has gone on to develop reliable charging stations to power EV fast chargers for buses and personal vehicles that aren’t directly reliant on the electricity grid.
For context, one EV fast charger uses the same amount of electricity as 125 homes. This draw from the existing grid isn’t always available, especially during peak periods — like the hot summer months when air conditioners run nonstop.
Jule’s battery energy storage system was engineered to bypass utility upgrades and help lower operational costs. In other words, instead of municipalities spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in electric infrastructure upgrades to accommodate EV fast chargers, plus sky-high monthly electricity fees on top, Jule engineered an energy-effective battery alternative.
Today, Jule provides EV fast chargers through battery storage systems that can simultaneously accommodate renewable sources of energy, says Jule’s marketing manager Rasmus Dilling- Hansen. By slowly drawing energy from the grid, not unlike tapping a maple tree for sap, Jule’s storage system can later discharge electricity to EV fast chargers on an as-needed basis. According to their numbers, just 50kW tapped from the energy grid and held in a Jule battery storage system can transform into 600kW of energy for EV usage.
Dilling-Hanson says electrified transit in Canada has made major progress, but that grid capacity and reliability of networked charging stations remain a challenge. He also cites user experience of EV charging stations as another barrier for widespread electric transit; unlike the ease of filling up at a gas station, for example, EV charging stations lack universal charging and payment systems. “Every network requires its own separate app to initiate charge [of vehicles]. Plus, there are still many that do not offer credit card payment options. Jule chargers capitalize on removing those barriers for drivers and do not require any apps to initiate charging.”


Focused on transforming commercial delivery and logistics, BrightDrop is a tech subsidiary of General Motors (GM) with a portfolio of electric delivery vehicles, smart eCarts and software solutions. Launched in early 2021, BrightDrop is the brainchild of GM’s in-house innovation lab, which expanded into the Canadian market at the end of 2022. GM’s CAMI facility in Ontario now produces the BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric delivery vans, making it Canada’s first large-scale EV factory.
Chief Commercial Officer Steve Hornyak says it’s been a record-setting two years, first with the fastest vehicle- to-market in GM’s history and second — a big second — becoming one of the fastest companies to reach its first billion dollars in revenue. “With the opening of our large-scale EV manufacturing plant in December 2022, we’re excited to scale production quickly this year to support the growing needs of our customers.”
There’s no shortage of demand for what BrightDrop offers the commercial sector: efficient delivery logistics, a reduction in harmful emissions, improved employee safety and freight security, all while helping to lower overall business costs. Hornyak says the fleet and commercial industry is at an inflection point where switching to a battery EV is a no-brainer. “We estimate that each BrightDrop Zevo 600 will save fleet owners up to $10,000 US per year, compared to traditional diesel vehicles.” Unlike personal-use vehicles where the upfront sticker price is a big factor, he says fleet owners see significant savings to their bottom line after calculating complete operating expenses.
The biggest challenge for organizations investing in commercial EV fleets is a lack of robust and reliable charging infrastructure across Canada. However, Hornyak says BrightDrop is leveraging GM’s longstanding relationships and expertise in EV infrastructure to address the needs of their commercial customers. Additionally, their flagship electric delivery vehicle came to market with up to 250 miles on a full charge, knowing most delivery routes are 150 miles or less. “This extra range can help provide peace of mind in knowing drivers can cover their routes with confidence,” he says.

Spark Spolight: Hop In

Most of us know how daunting commuting can be. Enter Hop In, a logistics software company founded five years ago that addresses mobility challenges and helps people get to work more efficiently and easily using shuttle services. Erich Ko, the cofounder and CEO, along with Boyd Reid, Ko’s cofounder and the company’s COO, initially wanted to launch a hitchhiker app, but the two then conceptualized a business-to-business service that would help clients — companies and organizations — make commuting an easier process for employees. Basically, Hop In’s software comes up with routes designed to fill the gaps left by public transit. Not only have their services assisted clients with employee retention, but it has also allowed companies to expand their hiring pools, since they’re quite literally helping people get to work.


Servicing the traffic industry across North America since 1979, Fortran Traffic Systems Limited is Canada’s top manufacturer and distributor of traffic lights, signals and control products.
Traffic flow and mobility, as well as making roadways safer and smarter, are Fortran’s top priorities. Keeping pace with advancements across the transportation sector, the independently owned company invests heavily in research and development, resulting in many traffic technologies created in-house. Since 2016, the Fortran team has focused on developing real-time, AI-driven adaptive traffic management solutions.
One of their most exciting developments in Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) is Fortran’s patented and award-winning Flux components that leverage connectivity and automation within vehicles themselves. Their Flux CVSP (Connected Vehicle Signal Priority) optimizes signal time by allowing vehicles, such as transit buses, to communicate in real-time with traffic signals and minimize what they call “vehicle dwell time” at intersections.
The Flux V2X (“Vehicle to Everything”) supports real-time monitoring and configuration of a wide range of V2X applications, including a network of physical and virtual roadside units. Not forgetting cyclists, the Flux GLIDE places traffic awareness directly into both iOS and Android devices to help cyclists safely navigate through cities.
Finally, the Flux ATMS component enables accurate information management and data visualization for city planners. It’s an open-platform system delivering high availability, scalability and security matched with Fortran’s reputable traffic control capabilities. The Flux ATMS is also hardware-agnostic, meaning it can be extended to manage a range of intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

With industry and major cities leading the charge toward electrified transit, the average Canadian household won’t be far behind. Not only will we all benefit from cleaner air and a healthier environment, but also faster commute times and reduced pressure on municipal budgets. Thanks to innovative companies like Jule, BrightDrop and Fortran, fossil-fuelled transit will one day seem as quaint and inefficient as horse-drawn carriages.

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