Electric vehicles central to Quebec’s new green plan

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QUEBEC CITY, Que. – Electric vehicles will play a central role in Quebec’s Plan for a Green Economy 2030 — a broad initiative that will include $6.7 billion in funding over five years. 

Through the plan, the provincial government wants to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 37.5% when compared to levels seen in 1990, and ensure the province is carbon-neutral by 2050. 

(Photo: istock)

While much of the related electrification project will focus on transportation, there are also targets for heating and industrial activities. 

The transportation sector itself, responsible for more than 43% of Quebec GHG emissions, will see a $3.6-billion investment over the next five years. That’s on top of $15.8 billion to be invested in public transit under the 2020-2030 Quebec Infrastructure Plan. 

During the same timeframe, $401 million will be used to support new business investments in strategic and innovative fields.  

The government says it “will support the development of a dynamic industrial ecosystem around electric vehicles, recharging infrastructure and batteries”. 

Quebec has more than 150,000 heavy vehicles, and the Plan for a Green Economy 2030 suggests the majority of that equipment has the potential to be electrified. 

This is particularly the case when it comes to straight trucks, which make up 60% of the registered heavy vehicle fleet. 

“Thanks to the constant evolution of technologies, and in particular to the improvement of [range] due to the increase in battery capacity, new solutions allowing the electrification of truck fleets are now within reach,” it reads. 

“For some uses, however, electrification still faces obstacles, both economic and technological, and related to the availability of vehicles, which can only be overcome in the medium-term.” 

Government support will include assistance to reduce the cost of purchasing vehicles where technology is available, but still cost-prohibitive. Where the required technology is maturing or non-existent, the government is promising to support innovation and demonstrations. 

The plan says the electrification work is not limited to vehicles that move goods, but also includes vocational trucks that could benefit from hybrid- or fully-electric solutions as they become available. 

Still, the plan suggests electrification will be a gradual process when it comes to heavy trucks that haul goods over long distances. 

“These vehicles indeed have needs longer range due to the long journeys they make and the heavy loads they haul,” it says. “It is also necessary to overcome the challenges linked to the extent of the territory they cover and to ensure availability of terminals in all regions served. Several demonstration projects with electric trucks are currently underway in North America; also, the possibilities will become more numerous in the medium term.” 

The use of hydrogen fuel cells was identified as a solution under certain conditions. 

The government itself is committed to ensuring that all automobiles, vans, minivans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in its own fleet – and one quarter of its pickup trucks – will be electric vehicles by 2030. 

The plan is also looking to diversity Quebec’s energy portfolio over the coming years, with new sources of renewable energy. 

Investments of $ 213 million are planned to support the emerging renewable natural gas industry, and $ 15 million will be invested to support the hydrogen development and research. Quebec’s very first hydrogen and bio-energy strategy is scheduled to be released next year. 

The Quebec Transport Minister’s office has told the Quebec Trucking Association (QTA) that financial support through the Ecocamionnage program will also continue. 

“Today, the Quebec government announced its plan for a green economy 2020-2030, outlining the help that will be available to our industry, adding bonuses. The details are not yet all revealed. We must of course understand that this program will be updated according to the different needs of industries,” the group told its members. 

Marc Bédard, president and founder of Lion Electric, congratulated the government of Quebec. “The entire Lion team has dreamed of electrifying heavy-duty transportation for over 10 years. Today, the unveiling of the Plan for a Green Economy confirms that this dream will become reality in Quebec in the coming years,” he said. “Quebecers will win by moving towards electrification of heavy transport in Quebec.” 

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Steve Bouchard started writing about trucks over 20 years ago, making him by far the most experienced trucking journalist in Quebec. Steve is the editor of Quebec’s leading French-language trucking magazine, Transport Routier, published by Newcom Média Québec since its creation in 2000. He is also editor of the associated website transportroutier.ca, and a contributor to Today’s Trucking and Trucknews.com.

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