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.

9:10 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

In 2009 it was 40% of our production, so about 900 buses.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

But 400, in total, but you're making about 900....

9:10 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

Sorry, we make 2,000 buses a year, 900 of which are hybrids. Some 400 of those 2,000 go to Canada, Canadian customers.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

I see. How many of them are hybrids in Canada?

9:10 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

It's almost the same ratio, about 40%. We've seen that trend actually come down a little bit, though.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Why?

9:10 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

I think it's just the funding requirements and there are additional costs for the hybrids. It's not cheap. Give or take, it can be a $130,000 premium.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

How many jobs would it be, approximately, that each of your companies are able to generate in Canada?

Mr. Allen.

9:10 a.m.

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

René Allen

It's 800 in Canada.

9:10 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

We're about 1,200 to 1,300.

June 5th, 2012 / 9:10 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

The one technology, the one alternative, that you use the most is hybrid. But the new area is really electric battery-charged buses. Am I correct on that?

What do you need to massively expand the electric? Is it the charging? We will probably hear from Israel, for example, on the way they charge their cars. Is it charging stations that are most difficult right now? What is the area where you think it could grow the most? It's not natural gas, right? It's mostly the electric cars. Am I correct in that?

9:15 a.m.

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

Jean-Pierre Baracat

What we see is that the electric buses are going to be probably the propulsion of choice in the future. It's not something that is readily available right now. Right now, as we mentioned earlier, the challenge is with the batteries. The autonomy for the vehicles is not as high as you would get on a normal vehicle. On a normal transit bus in heavy operations, like the big cities, the bus will operate for 20 hours a day.

With batteries today, there isn't a possibility to power the bus for that long. In terms of technology, yes, we'll have to figure out—and that's what I think Chris was referring to—how we charge those vehicles. Do we keep them charged? Do we have all the capacity on the bus to keep them running for the 20 hours? Or do we do opportunity charging, so whenever we get a chance we give them a jolt of power to keep them running for the rest of the day?

Right now this technology is still emerging. We need to have some breakthroughs on the battery side, and we need to have some sort of standardization, although we can have a modular design for the different types of applications for electric buses.

The other technologies, like CNG, etc, are existing fuels and not something that really is a breakthrough in technology. It is something that is really an alternative to diesel, but not necessarily more environmentally friendly than the current fuels.

I don't know if that answers your question.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Yes, it does.

Is it the same on your side?

9:15 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

It's fairly similar.

We've really seen a spike in CNG sales. One of them is disproportionate, because we just happened to have a big customer in New York who bought a lot. I'm not sure that's necessarily indicative of a market trend, but definitely we're seeing a lot more major U.S. cities purchase CNG.

I think it's just frankly the cost of CNG right now. It's so much cheaper. It's in abundance. So they're willing to pony up and put the infrastructure in place, but it's.... We have had a noticeable increase in CNG.

My comments on the electric bus are really very similar. I think we want to remain, as a bus provider, sort of battery-agnostic and somewhat charger-agnostic. We believe there will be different types of suppliers of batteries that we want to make sure will work on our buses, and different types of charging systems.

Again, take the last three customers we talked to. We had one customer who said, “I want lots of batteries on my bus so I can go all day.” We had another customer who said, “Hey, I'm at an airport; I want very little batteries, because I can do induction charging and give it spot charges throughout the whole day. It's only going to go around terminals and rental cars.” We had another customer who said, “You know what? If you can recharge twice on a route for five minutes and get yourself two hours' worth of operations, I'm happy with that.”

We would want to be flexible to all of those needs.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

So on the natural gas one, there's no real new technology. It's really that the price is right. It's low and that's why people buy them.

How many do we have in Canada? Do you make any of the natural gas buses in Canada? Are you the company?