Electric and smart transportation: aligning innovation and regulation

Connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles are essential to the mobility of the future. This is true in Quebec and around the world. There is a buzz in this sector, and Quebec’s rich electric and smart transportation ecosystem is generating some of the excitement that reaches beyond borders.

Quebec entrepreneurs are making their mark in the specialized vehicle industry and making their global leadership felt. Local innovative companies create and manufacture electric shuttles, buses, outdoor maintenance vehicles, snowmobiles, garbage trucks and urban delivery vehicles that spend their days driving our streets and the streets of other major cities around the world. This means that the large-scale electrification of vehicle fleets and the development of smart, connected technology are economic development opportunities for Quebec and an extraordinary chance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting local businesses.

Just as we encourage citizens to choose electric cars, we need to take bold action to prompt more public entities, transportation companies, industries and businesses to choose zero-emissions vehicles today, while continuing to zealously support sustainable mobility, including traditional and innovative options in public transit.

The large-scale conversion to electric and new mobility is made possible through technology advances and driven by environmental imperatives. But plenty of work still needs to be done to encourage companies to make progress. The SAQ recently decided to have fully electric urban delivery vehicles designed by a company in Saint-Jérôme. In addition to supporting quality jobs and stimulating the metropolitan and regional economy, this offers an incredible technology showcase that demonstrates the efficiency of locally developed electric vehicles, broadcasts our successes and eases anxiety around autonomy and recharging. It also has the potential to convince other businesses to adopt tomorrow’s mobility today.

Our efforts cannot stop there: we need to invest in electric infrastructures, deploy a network of recharging stations across the province and support research and development to give new technologies and key sectors – such as the lithium battery industry – what they need flourish. The goal is to encourage a growing number of players to embrace innovative technologies, including local emerging ones.

Modern regulation: the key to supporting an ecosystem of innovative entrepreneurs

To develop visionary projects to make transportation electric and autonomous, governments need to be proactive and create regulations in step with technological advances. Competition is stiff in this sector: around the world, cities are vying to attract companies that are building the mobility of tomorrow. The implementation of a modern, evolving and competitive regulatory environment is essential so that local businesses can be visionaries, innovating and flourishing at home.

Beyond business support programs, we need to ensure local startups and major flagships can create, test, implement and market their innovations right from Quebec. Our ability to adapt regulations quickly can encourage world-calibre players in artificial intelligence and electric smart mobility to choose Quebec to pursue their growth. This is essential to stimulate innovation.

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>> 2019 Strategic Forum on Transportation

Around the world, countries and cities are setting targets for reducing the number of combustion vehicles on the roads and deadlines for making electric transportation the norm. Autonomous cars are within reach. Local companies know it and are using their know-how and creativity to make their presence felt in promising niches. The momentum is there. It is up to us to seize this economic, technological, social and environmental opportunity by enabling local innovations to be tested locally and marketed from Quebec to ensure the success of the inevitable transformation of the transportation market, while benefitting from this technology revolution.

This is the backdrop against which the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and Propulsion Québec, the Cluster for Electric and Smart Transportation, conducted a study about regulating electric and smart transportation. The highlights and recommendations from this study, entitled "Positioning Quebec and Montréal as leaders in electric and smart transportation", will be released as an exclusive on May 6 at the Strategic Forum on Transportation.

This study was produced with the support of the Government of Quebec, in partnership with Hydro-Québec and SNC-Lavalin, and with the cooperation of Bombardier Transportation and Keolis Canada.

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