Evidence of meeting #27 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was trucks.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • David Bradley  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance
  • Claude Robert  President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Robert
  • Ron Lennox  Vice-President, Trade and Security, Canadian Trucking Alliance

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our guests. It's been a very lively and engaging discussion.

Monsieur Robert, looking through your windshield, you correctly pointed out that liquefied natural gas is perhaps the next thing, but what comes after that? We have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by not 25% but 75% by 2050. I'm intrigued by the notion that we can take liquefied natural gas and extract hydrogen from it before we burn it, which then produces zero greenhouse gases.

Do you see that as the natural evolution of the vehicles, from taking liquefied natural gas and burning it with carbon dioxide to taking natural gas and extracting the hydrogen? Is that 30 years ahead?

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Robert

Claude Robert

I would like to tell you that it's not that far. To be frank, the technology is coming fast. That's why I keep telling my counterparts in my industry we have to move now, because there's going to be a new technology tomorrow. If you don't move now, you're stuck for the next 15 years with an old technology. We can't afford to trade in the trucks and trailers every two or three years. Our business does not allow that.

Carrying cryogenic gas on our trucks is one way to get to tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow will be more creative. Right now, we have a problem of autonomy. We don't carry enough gas on our trucks. Maybe eventually we will have a tank under the trailers that we can plug into the truck, which will allow us to get the natural gas into the truck so that we can carry more and have greater autonomy, and that way we can get into the boonies without a refuelling station. Right now, we can't do that.

To answer your question, I strongly believe that with the creativity of the research people doing this, from what I've seen it's not that far away. It may take longer to commercialize it, but for a lot of people, unless you have to change, you don't change. People are not enthusiastic about changing for the sake of changing. They want to change because they are forced to change. Eventually, I believe, I will have a museum of old trucks; maybe one of these days I won't be able to run them anymore because I won't be able to get fuel to put into them. You understand? They may be worth nothing.

I used to have an iPad 1. My grandson took it. I got an iPad 2, but now my granddaughter wants it, so I'll have an iPad 3 soon. Just to illustrate, in a year's time, we went through three iPads. What are we going to go through in terms of technology is a very good question. My feeling is that natural gas is the first step to get into a new type of gas. As soon as you get into cryogenic tanks, you have gone to step number one. Are we going to have combustion engines tomorrow? Are cars going to be like a locomotive, just an engine running on generators and batteries, with electricity powering the wheels? Probably.

If you go to Europe, you can see this. If you go to Hanover, you will see buses running 100% on electricity, with a small engine at the back that starts if they need it. It's a small generator. They just recharge the batteries so that they never run out of power. The engine is that low. That's all it takes.

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance

David Bradley

We're not far from the hybrid electrics now. Class 6 and 7 trucks are pretty much there; the class 8s will come.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Explain what class 6 and 8 are.

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Trucking Alliance

David Bradley

Well, class 8 is your big, heavy tractor-trailer. As you go down classes, it's a weight class, so they're the smaller trucks.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

You're saying it's there now for the smaller trucks. It needs to be developed—

10:15 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Robert

Claude Robert

Again, these trucks are very expensive, and for people buying them.... Coca Cola, for example, does it for show.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Right, but not for—

10:20 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Robert

Claude Robert

They couldn't afford to do it if they were truckers; because they sell Coke, they can do it.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

I have to go to Mr. Toet.

March 13th, 2012 / 10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

You'll have to excuse me this morning. I'm somewhat raw.

I'd like to get back a little bit to the regulation issues, and I was very intrigued by what you said about propane being the baseline for the LNG regulations. Have you put anything forward to the regulators in regard to LNG? What are our opportunities there to work with them to really go back to a baseline that is an LNG baseline and not a propane baseline? How are we going to go about that? Have you given that some thought, and do you have anything we could actually bring forward to the authorities on that issue?

10:20 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Robert

Claude Robert

To be very open with you, with all the people we've met, we had opportunities.... If you go on the Internet and you punch in LNG, you get about three months of reading. Everything is there, you know. They've discussed it and we've discussed it, but the big question is whether they have the capacity to make a decision and say, “Yes, you have a green light here; go ahead. We are going to talk to the municipal authority, the county, to authorize it. Don't worry; everything is fine.”

It seems they have no authority, so there has to be a direction line because they do have the information now. At the beginning, if I go back two years ago, they did not have the information. They did not even know what LNG was. If you talked about LNG or about CNG and stuff like this, there were some people who didn't even know what it was.

Today they have the information and they know where to get the information about what they did in the States and whatever. There have been some standards established, but in Canada we are restricted on a lot of things we do. It would take too long to tell the stories, but one thing is clear: all our people do is put new regulations in place. There is nobody who is taking the old ones away.

Sooner or later they should clean up their act and say, “Okay, fine. What do we need today?” That's what we need for LNG; let's have only what we need for LNG. Don't look at what is in the book elsewhere. Talk to me about LNG. That will be solved. That's it, because it's not that complicated.

Also, what we need is to convince the suppliers, the people who produce parts, components, and everything, to join the club. We came in to a dealer in Cardinal two weeks ago with an LNG truck. The guy refused to get our truck into the garage. For sure, we have LNG, yes, but if we have a leak, what do we do? Okay, fix it outside. Yes, but it was minus 15 degrees, and it was snowing. We had to tow the truck back to Montreal, because our garage has to be modified and ventilated and everything to accept LNG trucks inside.

There are a lot of things we can talk about, and it goes far beyond saying that I'm running LNG trucks. It's not as simple as this.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Part of it is education, even an industry-wide education too. If you're running into situations like you talked about in this garage, there's also an educational aspect too.

10:20 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe Robert

Claude Robert

Yes, education is needed for the dealers, the OEM people who do repairs. If you have a flat tire and it's winter and the guy wants to bring the truck inside, when he finds out it's an LNG truck, there's no way he will do it. He won't fix it outside, so you have to go and have it fixed elsewhere.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Go ahead, Mr. Richards.