Thank you very much. I thank the committee for the invitation to speak to you this morning.
First I want to give you a little bit of a frame of reference, so I will introduce myself and our association and tell you what we do and what our focus is.
I have been in the truck manufacturing industry as an engineer for a good part of 27 years. Seventeen of those years were spent with a tractor and chassis original equipment manufacturer here in Canada, in British Columbia. For four years after that I spent some time as a forensic engineer consultant investigating and reporting on truck-related accidents across Canada. For the last six years I have been executive director of the CTEA.
The Canadian Transportation Equipment Association is made up primarily of manufacturers of heavy vehicles. Our core group really is twofold. First we have the vocational truck up-fitters, who take a chassis manufactured by an original equipment manufacturer—such as Mack, Mack Volvo, Daimler, Freightliner, and Western Star, or the medium-duty companies such as Hino, Isuzu, etc.—and turn them into working trucks by adding dump bodies, cement mixer bodies, or various other types of bodies.
On the other side of our core group are the trailer manufacturers. We have some smaller trailer manufacturers, but many specialize in heavy trailers. We have many sizes of companies, anywhere from ones that manufacture a few trailers a year, to Manac, which is probably one of our biggest members, manufacturing thousands of trailers. Suppliers are also included in our association, as are service providers. In some respects we consider the original equipment manufacturers, the large corporations that manufacture the chassis, to be the suppliers of our core membership.
Most of our members are small and medium-sized enterprises. Many of our companies have fewer than 20 people, and a lot of them have up 500 employees. They put out any number of vehicles, from a few a year to thousands.
The focus of the association over the years has been on the obligations of our membership to federal and provincial regulations. We provide other affinity programs for members, of course, but really the focus has been on working with Transport Canada and the provinces on regulatory requirements.
When I was asked to come I saw that the focus was on innovation. I want to touch on some of the innovations we are seeing in the industry that affect us. In a lot of cases they're not things that our members are necessarily installing, but they affect the installation of the final body, the changes in designs, etc.
We're seeing a lot of electric hybrids for urban deliveries—buses and refuse vehicles. There are some hydraulic hybrids, which are a little different, mostly in the refuse industry.
Alternate fuels such as CNG and LNG are becoming very popular. There's a lot of interesting work being done, and there are definitely some challenges there, particularly related to infrastructure. We're seeing new aerodynamic features with the introduction of rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas and increasing fuel economy in the U.S. and Canada. We foresee that although that is starting with a fairly narrow scope, it will eventually broaden and affect more of our members, particularly our trailer members.
On things like disc brakes, from a safety perspective, it's something that is seen as a positive. It's something that the volumes currently are not.... It is a fairly expensive option, but the benefits are there, and we are seeing the volumes increasing. It does change some of the design parameters to a certain extent, but really, it is something that we're seeing coming our way and is definitely a positive.
There's technology such as electronic stability control, which is now mandatory on long combination vehicles in Ontario, on transportation of dangerous goods, on tankers in Quebec....
One side note I have is that right now I believe that within the House there is a bill to push forward the latest CSA-B620 regulation. The way things are set up with that particular group is that they have a very strong working relationship amongst industry because it is done through CSA, so we have government and industry at the table.
But because of the nature of that, so that accreditation can be kept with CSA, every five years they must continue with a five-year review, so there are improvements coming constantly with that group. Unfortunately, the latest, which was in 2008, has not been introduced yet, and now we're working not only on the next phase but on the phase beyond that. When we're talking about dangerous goods transport, I think it is critical to see that particular regulation change move forward.
There are other things, such as telematics, electronic on-board recorders, and enhanced visibility, which are all issues that are being worked on and really require standards. They are being worked on by the Society of Automotive Engineers—SAE International—ISO, and other groups. Industry and OE cooperation I think is critical to that, and I think it is there. Many of these can really enhance our safety issues especially.
I just want to talk a bit about a couple of things that would really help the industry, especially our small and medium-sized entities.
One is streamlining the R and D tax credit application process. It's one area that we struggle with. We have a couple of things, which I will mention in a moment. There were programs where we had actual consortium testing, for which some companies were in a position to apply, but some, like the smaller companies, were unable to apply, more because they don't have the resources in regard to the time, the effort, and the cost involved in trying to deal with the reporting and the details that are demanded of them. Some of the rules kept some of those companies out of it.
In saying that, I just want to talk about how we do have a couple of wins pertaining to our association and from Transport Canada in particular. One not long ago was the rear impact guard for trailers. Our Canadian guards are much stronger than those of our U.S. neighbours. Transport Canada actually went ahead and did something beyond.... We had many discussions. We had an opportunity, as we always do, to have input into the introduction of the regulation.
It eventually was introduced, and one of our biggest issues was actually making sure that we could get the testing done and comply. Each company is expected to test to these regulations and of course to comply with the regulations. However, when you're talking about these small and medium-sized companies, it is a costly exercise.
The association pulled together, in a consortium, all the key trailer manufacturers within our membership and put together a $320,000 testing program, which I would have to suggest might have broken, in some cases, some of our smaller companies. But we were able to pull that together, make it reasonable for each, and pay for that program. It's been a very successful program and is one Transport Canada I think should be proud of. We are. It's worked very well.
I have a couple of final notes on some of the other players I might suggest. I understand that David Bradley from the Canadian Trucking Alliance has already testified. I might suggest that on the natural gas front, Alicia Milner, from the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance, might be someone to contact.
I think it is difficult to move forward with anything to do with trucks or trailers without consulting also with the U.S. OEMs, which are a big portion of the manufacturing. Unfortunately, we only have two truck manufacturing facilities now in Canada. That is very unfortunate. We have Hino, in Woodstock, and PACCAR, in Sainte-Thérèse. It would be important to include those groups.
In the U.S., there is the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, out of Chicago. We have a good relationship with them. There is the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, out of Virginia. If that was something the committee was interested in, we definitely could put you in touch with the appropriate individuals in those companies.
For a lot of the technology, they are really the forerunners. I think one thing that has to be remembered about our industry, unlike the automotive industry, is that we are very strongly pushed by the customers. What the customer wants, what that fleet or municipality or the end-user essentially needs and wants on a vehicle, our members will put on the vehicle. We're driven very much from the user side. With respect to any regulatory initiatives, it's important to keep a level playing field and consider those things.
I also note one other group. Although the NRC CSTT has been invited, I think it's important that we get past the executive level and go down to the engineering folks who actually do the work and put together the reports. Actually talk to them so that we fully understand. I know there have been reports brought before this committee, and the executives have been questioned on those reports. They should be. They should understand them.