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Rendez-vous du transport and Movin’On | An Inevitable Shift

Maude M. Sévigny No comment

In Quebec, the transportation industry comprises 110 businesses and more than 5 100 direct jobs. Transportation is also responsible for 41% of the province’s GHG emissions.  With urbanization, worsening traffic congestion, GHG multiplying, the constant quest for a better quality of life and more time… transportation is at the heart of our preoccupations. It’s not only transportation technologies that are being re-examined, but the entire paradigm that is shifting.

It was in this spirit that the summit Movin’On took place on June 13, 14, and 15, 2017 in Montreal. As part of the creative event, the Pôle d’excellence Québécois en transport terrestre organized the Rendez-vous du transport (RVT) under the theme “Plug yourself to the world”. Two business services directors from Sherbrooke Innopole participated: Nathalie Prince, from the advanced manufacturing sector, who acted as a panellist, and Myriam Bélisle, of the clean technology sector.

This important event on sustainable and integrated mobility offered conferences and collaborative experiences to rethink issues of mobility and study solutions. The participants were mostly Quebec businesses that are members of the Pôle d’excellence Québécois en transport terrestre, start-ups, suppliers, and other specialists in innovative vehicles.  The Sherbrooke mobipod Geebee was part of the test platform, alongside giants like Tesla and other land, sea, or air vehicles.

The path from dream to project – Myriam Bélisle

“The transportation industry has been considered conservative, but we are experiencing a huge change,” explained Myriam Bélisle. “The dream phase is over, and now we need leaders who believe in it to rally others and accelerate change.”

The director of the cleantech key sector shared highlights of the Movin’On summit:

  1. Demonstration of Michelin’s Vision concept tire: a tire inspired by the biomimicry of coral with its cells that allow snow and water to pass. Manufactured with 3D printing using bioplastics, the biodegradable and recyclable tire can be adapted to any type of driving. Its arrival on the market, even if it’s not tomorrow, will change business models in the tire industry.
  2. Presentation by Bertrand Picard, Solar Impulse: Solar Impulse is a solar airplane that flew around the world by relying entirely on solar energy, without any (petrochemical) fuel! Mr. Picard had some tips to help fulfill your wildest dreams:
    • Believing in the dream and following it through to the end: nothing is impossible until proven otherwise;
    • Gathering different people together on the same project to combine visions, challenge minds, and thus create a powerful synergy;
    • Avoiding creating partnerships with people in the same niche and go outside of the system to innovate, this way partners risk less by participating in a project;
    • Rising up to find fair winds that will push us to success. Picard, also a hot-air balloon pilot, made the ingenious parallel: “We need to change altitude to change direction.”
  3. Presentation by Rob Lloyd, General Director of Hyperloop One: Hyperloop is a transportation capsule for merchandise and humans sent through reduced-pressure tubes, which can reach exceptional speeds quickly. For the moment, tests are being conducted all over the world. In Canada, a project is being discussed for a Hyperloop that would connect Montreal and Toronto in 39 minutes, a genuine revolution in the world of transportation! The team was created in a garage in 2014 and the project grew so quickly that in 2017, the project was already at its 9th Lloyd’s advice? The design, testing, and construction phases must follow in quick succession.

“We are in an era where selling technologies is not the first priority. To be well-positioned, we must sell the intangible,” added Mrs. Bélisle. Let’s think of Geebee, who among other things, calls itself “Ergonomic, fun, safe, and accessible”. Hyperloop is on the same wavelength with its slogan: “We don’t sell transportation, we sell time”.

Market in contradiction – Nathalie Prince

“As transportation habits and lifestyles change, we need to rethink the business models,” explained Nathalie Prince. Especially with the digital shift and the challenge of setting up the 4.0, the big players are aware that they can no longer develop like they used to.”

“It’s not only a question of sales but also of diversifying the services offered,” stated the director. She stressed that connectivity between these diversified modes of transport was essential. This issue and the one of ride sharing are addressed through apps such as Vermeille and OuiHop.

In Quebec as elsewhere, the challenge certainly affects users, but mostly businesses, different levels of government, and municipalities. Cities and governments have a duty to adopt a position as leaders of change by leaving aside some standards that are too restrictive and by becoming involved in appropriate infrastructure adapted to facilitate the emergence of electric technologies. “Planning is necessary, but we also have to act now if we want to reverse the trend,” she said in reference to the different actors, companies as well as decision-making bodies.

As we can observe, millennials are less interested in buying a car, certainly in large urban centres like Montreal, which accelerates change.  Conversely, we have seen the birth of a keen interest from emerging countries, who have more means and wish to live their American Dream and buy a car. “There is a sort of dichotomy,” explains Nathalie Prince. “You’d believe there are too many brands and the market is saturated, but it’s not really the case as we can see from the emerging countries who are entering the market.” For example, Gac Motors, which appeared at the beginning of the 2000s, had a highly successful introduction on the market.

Portrait of transportation in the Estrie region

Nathalie Prince, Shebrooke Innopole, with  Julie Éthier, Développement économique de l’agglomération de Longueuil, Joël Bourque, Développement économique La Pocatière, Patrick St-Laurent, Développement industriel Granby et région, Alexandre Cusson, Ville de Drummondville and François Vaillancourt, Ville de St-Jean-sur-Richelieu

In Quebec, Estrie is a major player in the transportation industry with 117 businesses and almost 10 000 jobs. In Québec, the industry of motorized recreational vehicles counts 110 businesses and more than 5 100 direct jobs; 61 % of them are in Estrie. 

Of course, the presence of BRP – Bombardier Recreative Products explains this concentration of the jobs in the region. The multinational, leader of its industry, employs  8 700 people, 2500 of them are in Québec (2 200 in Estrie). The head offices are in Estrie, along with one plant, a center of design and innovation, a regional office, and its Center of Advanced Technologies. Numerous subcontractors complete their supply chain with this company, such as Métosak, Exo-S and many others.

In the car industry, he region stands out mainly in the sector of sealing, with many important tiers 1 like: Waterville TG, Cooper Standard and tiers 2 such as M.I. Intégration, FSM Canada, ACP Canada, Milan Conception,  Atelier CFM and SECM – GT. Moreover, the Estrie Region counts businesses that are suppliers to many clients with other componants, like Verbom who is a supplier of Tesla and BMW with its thermoformed aluminium parts . There is also companies in the public transportation sector such as Merkur and Composite BHS who produce parts for metro wagons. TLD Canada, a French company is specialized in the conception and production of aiport equipements and other subcontractors like Dalkotech andAteliers B.G. are also operating in the field of terrestrial transportation.

Estrie Region is an important player in the transportation electrification, especially in the field of off-road vehicles Besides TLD and BRP who work on the electric products development, the region benefits from the presence of Motrec, an important electrical vehicles manufacturer.

Numerous research centers support the development of this sector:  Centre de technologie avancée – BRP – Université de Sherbrooke, the GAUS, the laboratoire intelligence véhiculaire – LIV, to name a few.