Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you here today. On behalf of Fleet Advantage, witnesses in attendance, including Chrysler, Enterprise, and Delphi, and many others who could not be in attendance today, we sincerely appreciate the interest of the committee in our story. We hope that what you hear today you will see as an opportunity.
With your permission, and in the interest of time, I intend to focus on the key elements of the document you all have versus going through it in its entirety. If there are no objections, I'll just focus on the highlights.
My name is Dave Dennis. I'm the managing director and executive vice-president of business development for Fleet Advantage. Our parent company is InsightAction. We are essentially a business intelligence organization engaged in gathering and converting data into actionable insights to optimize asset performance for a variety of sectors, which are identified in the statement that you all have. Most pertinent to our conversation today is the work we do at Fleet Advantage in optimizing transportation and fleet asset performance.
In December of 2010, we were asked by the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association to first identify the barriers in making higher-blend ethanol available in retail and then to help them navigate those barriers.
We knew that the fleets we were working with could benefit in their efforts to reduce GHGs with the availability of alternative fuels like higher-blend ethanol, so we naively took the challenge on and started our conversations with the largest independent retailer of petroleum in Canada, Canadian Tire.
Canadian Tire had many questions that pertained to the entire alternative transportation and energy supply chain before they could responsibly move forward with the availability of any alternative transportation energy solution—questions that required expertise and perspectives from infrastructure, automotive manufacturers, and many, many more.
To be clear, at Fleet Advantage we're not experts in alternative transportation energy. We are a data-driven organization, and as such remain essentially fuel-agnostic. We knew that solely focusing on the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association's focus on ethanol would compromise our ability to do the broader work we thought was required. We quickly learned that this effort wasn't about an independent solution; rather, it was about interdependent solutions based on many varying factors involving the entire supply chain. We also learned that there was a huge void, inasmuch as no one seemed to be stewarding this conversation.
You can feel free to challenge me on that later, during the question period.
Now, largely financed by ourselves, we've been doing this benevolent work in terms of meeting with very senior leadership in every one of the segments that Canadian Tire had asked us to speak to, so that we could bring some intelligence and some collaborative input together.
What started as an ethanol project quickly grew to include other alternative transportation energy solutions as a result of the conversations we were having. We quickly observed that each, independently, had significant challenges, and all were at different stages of development in terms of being commercially viable as a transportation energy source. We also learned that they were quick to cast stones at one another in what must be a very difficult struggle for limited resources.
Our observation was this: why fight over a market that doesn’t exist yet, instead of working together to create conditions for a market that all could participate in? We have heard many make the statement, which I'm sure you're no stranger to, that there are no silver bullets. Then why are so many behaving like they're waiting for one?
Let’s acknowledge that each solution is imperfect but can contribute to the whole in different ways. Let's also acknowledge that this community of alternative transportation energy solutions is completely interdependent of a much broader community—the retailer in terms of availability, automotive manufacturing, fleet leadership, and public policy-makers, just to name a few.
The idea is simple: break down the barriers just enough so that this seemingly disparate community of influencers and stakeholders can collaborate for mutual value and agree to some needle-movers that would enable Canadians to benefit in every aspect of an alternative transportation energy supply chain that touches the economic well-being of many sectors, including energy, transportation, agriculture, technology, retail, and manufacturing, with different focuses by geography and utility. Such an alternative transportation energy supply chain could build on existing expertise to develop new business opportunities for Canadians, and in so doing create new jobs.
What about the promise of exporting leading technology, not to mention the health benefits that we would all benefit from?
I have to believe there is value in a private sector single-source entity like this alternative transportation energy community—which we've dubbed ATEC—that deals with this matter holistically to enable access to a collectively prepared perspective that touches such a diverse community of important influencers and stakeholders.
If the members here today see value in accessing this alternative transportation energy community, we will, together with our private sector partners, formally create ATEC as a not-for-profit entity that will be privately funded, so we're not here to ask for anything other than your ear. We just need to hear clearly that you support the notion in terms of an alternative transportation energy community coming together to provide input.
Think about having at this table a group that represented availability, such as Canadian Tire, working collaboratively with suppliers of new technology. I think of an immediate example of government fleets that create their own fuelling depots. That probably isn't necessary. Just reaching out to the various retailers that are available and working on a deal would mitigate that incremental expenditure.
There are many other examples that I've included in my notes, just to name a few.
We have here with us Enterprise Holdings. They represent over one million cars globally, and many cars in Canada, that are controlled under a central decision-making authority. They are representative of fleets that exist out there, not dissimilar to the North American fleet association and many other fleets we work with. You can work with them to steer support for an infrastructure to get things started.
We have supply in terms of the various technologies that exist out there; we have demand in terms of the fleet leaders we can talk to, who represent 10% of the vehicles on the road today; and we have availability in terms of the retailers we're talking to, just to name a few. These are businesses coming together to collaborate for mutual value. This is the private sector coming together to work with government in assisting the process of aligning private sector needs with public policy to create new business opportunities and jobs for Canadians.
Our proposal is simple: if the members here see value in creating a group of key stakeholders and influencers that are representative of an alternative transportation energy community, we'll build it for you.
That's essentially the end of my statement. I'm not sure if we go to questions or if Peter speaks next.