Electric school buses: difficulties among manufacturers and carriers

Nearly 150 school carriers were present at the Girardin company to discuss the issues of electrification of the school bus network, a few weeks before the start of the school year.

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Since last November, all new school bus models on the road must be fully electric. The challenges are significant.

“This is the biggest change in school transport since the beginning. Challenges [sont nombreux]: electrification, manpower, vehicle maintenance, autonomy, road planning,” said Autobus Idéal President Pierre Deschênes.

Currently, 6% of the market is electric. By 2030, 65% of school buses should be electric to be fully electric by 2035.

“It’s achievable, but the challenges are significant,” said the vice-president of the Girardin company, Michel Daneault. We must remember one thing: the bus exists, it works, the autonomy is not yet ideal, but the number two challenge is the installation of infrastructure to allow the charging of these vehicles in the region.

Some manufacturers also have difficulty marketing these buses.

In Quebec, four companies manufacture electric school buses. Lion Electric has self-service, since the assembly of the models is done in Canada.

But the other three (Girardin, Autobus Thomas and Leeds Transit) do not have access to these subsidies.

According to Leeds Transit, which sells its models at $400,000, its competitor is taking advantage of a $150,000 subsidy on the sale of one of its buses, which is hurting its ability to attract customers.

The director of the company also confirmed to TVA Nouvelles that the turnover in Quebec had decreased by 85%. A total of 400 electric school buses have been delivered this year.

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