Evidence of meeting #41 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 bus.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jean-Pierre Baracat  Vice-President, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.
  • René Allen  Vice-President , Product Management and Strategy, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.
  • Chris Stoddart  Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

June 5th, 2012 / 9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Elmwood—Transcona, MB

One other question I have is on the European standardization that both of you talked about, the ability to have the same standards as in Europe. I have a bit of a question.

One of our last witnesses, actually from STM, was talking about how many manufacturers there are in Europe. They were actually pushing us to have that standardization because it allows them to deal with all those European companies, since there are so many of them compared to what we have in North America, in Canada especially, manufacturing buses.

Do you see it as a big help to you to have that ability, or are you really opening the door to a huge influx of competition that enables them to now bring their buses into Canada to compete against you?

9:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

Jean-Pierre Baracat

If I may, one thing we're seeing with the current technologies.... For instance, take diesel engines, for the moment we have new regulations that come up every three years and we deal with North America on the bus side because of the limited volume of buses. One thing that you have to realize is that the whole market for buses is about 6,000 buses a year. That's all of North America for transit buses. When you compare that to the automotive industry, one plant will produce hundreds of thousands of units, so it's really not the same order of magnitude. For us to certify an engine for only that bus becomes prohibitive, so what happens is that we have to deal with one single manufacturer in North America that provides us with an engine. We don't have a choice. That's the only one.

For instance, in the Volvo group there's a whole bunch of different engines that we could be using that have different certifications, like your certifications, and we can't even bring those into Canada and use them on our products. A bus manufacturer is more of an integrator of systems.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Elmwood—Transcona, MB

You kind of have a double-edged sword there and I want to ask whether you've really looked at both aspects of it, because you're right, it allows you to bring this engine over, but it also allows them to bring their whole bus with that engine over here, too.

9:35 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

What we find on the bus side today is that, when you talk about bringing the whole bus over, the barriers to entry are certainly significant in the United States. That would probably prohibit somebody bringing their bus over, simply because of Buy America alone, unless they set up manufacturing facilities. It may be less so in Canada, but the rules and regulations in terms of the other dimensions and such on a bus are still significant enough between Europe and Canada. For that matter, it's still a challenge, plus the freight costs. It's still pretty hard to be competitive.

I kind of agree with the comments on the propulsion side. It's a problem that there's one guy. One person supplies all transit buses today and everyone else is evacuated. A second, Navistar, is coming on, but today it's just Cummins. So the ability to have different propulsion options, as long as we weren't testing and having to certify everything for emissions, I think wouldn't be a problem.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Mr. Carmichael.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Thank you, Chair, and good morning to the witnesses.

I'd like to continue with my colleague's comments because I'm a little unsure. When you talk about the harmonization with Europe and creating a common set of standards, I understand the volume of business in Canada and doing business with the U.S. Are you dependent at all on exports to Europe or is this strictly the importation of product and technology, parts, etc.?

Let's start with Mr. Stoddart and then go to Volvo.

9:35 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

Today we don't. Our company doesn't export anything.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

It's strictly North America.

9:35 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

It's strictly North America today, yes.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Baracat.

9:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

Jean-Pierre Baracat

It's the same for us. Even though we are part of the Volvo Group, as Chris mentioned earlier, the products are different enough that the European products don't fit the North American operation profile.

Let me make it a little clearer from our perspective. We're looking especially at the engine now and at the emission standards, to be able to use European emission standards in Canada, for instance. That would be the first and easiest step, let's put it this way.

We know we're not going to get the U.S. to accept those standards, although there are talks, but we know those are going to be long-term talks to standardize the emission requirements on both sides of the pond.

In the short term, we're asking to have the ability to use engines, for instance, that are being produced elsewhere in the world, and in the longer term to support the efforts that are going to be made with the U.S. and Canada and the European Commission to try to standardize.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

You talked earlier about bus rapid transit and the larger units that would travel down those dedicated lanes, etc. I presume that will be adaptable to smaller units as well. Do you see that as being exclusively battery or will it be a combination or not even battery?

9:40 a.m.

Vice-President , Product Management and Strategy, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Don Valley West, ON

Yes.

9:40 a.m.

Vice-President , Product Management and Strategy, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

René Allen

Today's internal combustion engine works well in the BRT. Any propulsion solution you're going to take will benefit from the BRT.

So going at a faster pace with fewer stops—stop and go—and travelling with a lot of people.... Of course today if you want to have a high rate of transportation, the combustion engine is the only solution, but even an electric bus would benefit from that. I think both our companies are making a big stride in having a 40-foot electric bus. But thinking about the high-capacity electric bus, today we're not there because of the capacity.