The province is dedicating $250 million over three years to begin the switch, with local manufacturer Lion Electric set to benefit from the initiative
By 2030, more than half of students in the province of Quebec will be heading to class in yellow electric school buses, Premier François Legault announced on Friday. Giving substance to a plan contained in the province’s 2030 Plan for a Green Economy unveiled last fall, Legault said the government will invest $250 million over the next three years to electrify 65 per cent of the province’s school bus fleet.
That translates to nearly 2,600 buses, according to Quebec’s Transport Minister François Bonnardel. Currently one per cent of Quebec’s school bus fleet is electric.
The move is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 800,000 tonnes over the next three years. Electric propulsion also eliminates diesel exhaust which is typically associated with harmful emissions from school buses that can be more harmful inside the bus than outside.
Quebec’s transportation sector is responsible for 34 million tonnes or 45 per cent of its annual emissions. “Currently our emissions in transportation are handicapping our balance sheet,” Benoit Charette, minister of the environment and the fight against climate change, stated at last Friday’s announcement.
The $250 million will be used to purchase new electric buses, which clock in at around $300,000 per vehicle, as well as provide for the installation of charging stations.
Environmentally and economically friendly
Lion Electric, a Quebec-based electric bus and truck manufacturer, is projected to be a big beneficiary of the provincial outlay, with the government likely to spend the money locally. The company says it’s more than prepared for the uptick in bus orders.
“We’re all ready to supply the demand, we’re ready for capacity of productions. We can do 2,500 vehicles per year and then we’ve developed a whole ecosystem around electrification,” said Lion’s vice-president of marketing and communications, Patrick Gervais.
The investment is likely to be a big boon to the province’s economy, as well, since Lion deals primarily with local suppliers. “We have 150 vendors here in the province of Quebec,” Gervais added.
About 80 per cent of the parts used in Lion’s vehicles are made in Canada, and that percentage may increase in the coming years as Lion scales up its vertical integration.
The company recently announced plans to build a “crucial” $185-million battery pack factory in Quebec with both the province and the federal government kicking in considerable sums for the project at $50 million apiece.