Evidence of meeting #42 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 vehicles.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:50 a.m.

Director, Fleet Management, Canada Post Corporation

Steve Clark

Are we speaking of natural gas or propane, or any?

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

I'll just say “any”. Pick one.

9:50 a.m.

Director, Fleet Management, Canada Post Corporation

Steve Clark

Okay.

Again, as I alluded to, there are a number of different technologies. There are also different applications that they'll be used in. Compressed natural gas, for example, in comparison to propane, has range issues. That doesn't necessarily affect Canada Post in a lot of its 50-kilometre routes. But if someone is going to run a shuttle from one place to another, you need an awful lot of compressed natural gas on board to travel the same distances as you would with a different fuel. I'm just suggesting why we would use different fuels in different locations.

When you talk about putting all our eggs in one basket, you're right, as it wasn't that long ago that gas and diesel were only options and that we really didn't have a choice. But propane and natural gas resurged in the 2000s. I think we saw it maybe 20, 25 years ago. In the eighties, propane was rah-rah; everybody's on propane, and we were doing all these conversions. It was good for a couple of years and then it phased out. We lost some research and development and some other things.

So if we were to invest 100% of our fleet into one of those technologies that's emerging today and then have it not be successful, we would be in a dangerous spot.

June 7th, 2012 / 9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Thanks. I appreciate that.

Mr. Mouw, it was interesting when you talked about propane in North America, that it was a domestic resource, that it was something that we didn't have to buy from places where people didn't like us very much. I'll presume that you probably like ethical oil from western Canada for the same reasons.

My question to Mr. Stewart is this. You made reference to the conversion kit. That's the world you live in. I'm trying to think of how you get this beyond the fleet level to the practical homeowner level. Are the conversion kits that you have transferable? I think this is probably one of the impediments that an individual might have, because if I went from my current vehicle today and made a $3,000 to $5,000 investment in a vehicle that I was going to lease for three or four years, it wouldn't be practical for me. But if I wanted to own that vehicle, thinking I might have it for five years and then want to get something else, is that kit convertible? Can I put that same kit you put into my first vehicle into my second vehicle? How does that work?

9:55 a.m.

President, Maxquip

Cameron Stewart

Parts of it, you certainly could transfer. On a $5,000 conversion, roughly $1,200 to $1,500 of that might be the fuel tank itself. The fuel tank has a very, very long life and is likely transferable from vehicle to vehicle. You probably couldn't convert or transfer over the harness. Some of the other components, you probably could. Off the top of my head, I'd say maybe 40% to 50% of that you could move from one vehicle to another.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

And that's plus the installation costs, I would guess.

What I'm wondering is this. Would it be worthwhile for me or for any consumer, if they were to purchase a vehicle and had a comparable vehicle in terms of the gas tank, to take that kit with them, or to get a new one?

9:55 a.m.

President, Maxquip

Cameron Stewart

I think you'd have to look at the resale value of that vehicle as well and take that into consideration. I call my vehicle a tri-bred. It's a gasoline, electric, and LPG autogas-powered vehicle. When I look at changing my vehicle, I'm going to have to consider this if I sell it. Am I going to get a premium because of the equipment that's already on it? If I am, then it's likely worth just staying with the vehicle and adding new equipment to the next vehicle.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Chair, you made a reference, or we heard from our guests, that one of the issues was regulations. I think we heard that from them.

If there were any regulatory changes that they imagine we at the federal level could make, I would appreciate it if they would consider forwarding them through you. Thank you.

Thank you, guests.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Ms. Morin.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

My comments are mostly for Mr. Stewart.

Your sixth recommendation says that we should “allow alternative-fuelled vehicles with lower greenhouse gas emissions, to operate in high-occupancy vehicle lanes”. I find that to be a very creative solution; it's the first time I've heard such an idea. That is a smart recommendation, but how would we identify those vehicles?

From everything I gather so far, you cannot identify these vehicles simply by looking at them. Which ones are the most environmentally friendly and generate less greenhouse gas? Do we need to ask our officers on the road to memorize every make or model that could emit less greenhouse gas? I have a hard time seeing how we could implement that solution. I would like to hear your suggestions. I think it is a great idea, but I have trouble picturing the actual implementation.

9:55 a.m.

President, Maxquip

Cameron Stewart

I would agree with you.

In terms of the practical implementation of something like that, I think you would need to have some type of standard identifier that you could put on the vehicle. So when the vehicle is registered, it would either qualify for this right or not. You would have to have some easy means of identifying that vehicle, maybe with a decal on the licence plate or a different colour of licence plate, or something like that so that those who are out there enforcing or regulating this could easily see that the vehicle was able to be in those lanes because it was an alternative fuel vehicle.

10 a.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Very well. It may be necessary to do some work on the decal. It might be easy to copy, I don't know.

Your seventh recommendation says that we should “make funding available for the training of conversion centres and installation personnel.” What do you mean exactly? What do you want the funding for? Infrastructure? Teachers? How much money would you need for these centres?

10 a.m.

President, Maxquip

Cameron Stewart

I don't have a specific number in mind. We talk about a paradigm shift in the industry, and what comes first, the chicken or the egg, including having a decent infrastructure in certain environments such that people can convert vehicles if there's an incentive.

For example, in Alberta right now we have a shortage of installation centres. We have fleets that are very interested in converting to the technology, but we need more qualified installation centres. These installation centres sometimes are having trouble seeing if it's worthwhile to invest in this.

There may already be funding out there that I'm not aware of, so forgive my ignorance, but I just see there being a need in the market to provide some impetus to make it easier for people to convert to autogas.

10 a.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

I have one last question about underground stations. Mr. Mouw could also respond to this.

Exactly how many accidents have there been in recent years, whatever they may be? You said that technologies have been developed to improve the system and that there is less risk. I want to know if there have actually been any accidents. And if so, what happened?

10 a.m.

Vice-President, Alternative Fuels, Roush Cleantech

Todd Mouw

I can't give you actual numbers, but what I can say, as Mr. Stewart mentioned, is that with the implementation of the overfill protection device on these tanks, you can't fill beyond 80%. If you can't fill beyond 80% you don't have accidents related to overfilling that vehicle.

As it relates to vehicles getting in car accidents, sure that happens every day, but specific to underground garages and having an issue with overfilling vehicles, we're not seeing that in the United States.