(Quebec) Quebec manufacturer Nova Bus lands a $2.2 billion contract to supply 1,230 electric city buses to Quebec transit companies, La Presse has learned. These green vehicles will be “produced and assembled” at its Saint-Eustache plant.

The company, a subsidiary of the Swedish Volvo Group, won what is considered the largest public tender for the construction of city buses in North America.

Quebec and Ottawa will announce it soon. They share the bill, which turns out to be higher than expected.

It was estimated that the cost would be around $1.1 million per bus, which would have given a total of just under $1.4 billion. However, the bill is more like 2.2 billion, an increase of around 55%.

This ambitious contract stems from a promise by Prime Minister François Legault in the fall of 2021 on the sidelines of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. He then announced an investment of 5 billion to electrify 55% of the urban bus fleet by 2030. Of this sum, 2.4 billion was intended for the purchase of 2,148 electric buses; the rest was used to build and convert garages. We now have proof that the operation will be more expensive.

Almost a year ago to the day, the Legault government gave the green light to launch the process to acquire a first fleet of 1230 buses, 12m electric vehicles. They are intended for the nine transport companies – Montreal, Laval, Quebec, Longueuil, Lévis, Outaouais, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay – and for exo, which operates bus services in the metropolitan area. The Société de transport de Montréal was designated as responsible for this group purchase.

Quebec required a minimum of 25% Canadian content and final assembly of buses in Canada, in accordance with international trade agreements. A company outside Quebec could therefore get hold of the contract. Last year, François Legault nevertheless said that he had no doubt that the buses would be built here. Nova Bus finally won the bet. It was reported to La Presse that the vehicles would be “produced and assembled” at the Saint-Eustache plant; moreover, it could not be ruled out that certain elements would be carried out outside Quebec.

The first buses will be delivered next year. The contract runs until 2027.

To measure the scope of the contract, it suffices to make a few comparisons with other public transport projects.

For the Quebec tramway that regularly makes headlines, Alstom Transport Canada has just won a $569 million contract to supply what is known as “rolling stock” – the trains will be assembled at the La Pocatière plant. . In the case of the REM, the largest public transport project of the last fifty years in Quebec, Alstom obtained in 2018 a 2.2 billion contract for the supply of 212 light metro cars, which are built in India.

Last year, Quebec said it expected that the electrification of 55% of the urban bus fleet would eliminate the emission of approximately 131,500 tonnes of CO2 per year over time. That’s the equivalent of nearly 40,000 fewer cars on the road.

The Legault government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Quebec by 37.5% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. It has so far identified about half of the necessary measures. to succeed.

The government’s roadmap can be found in the Plan for a Green Economy by Environment Minister Benoit Charette, Member of Parliament for the riding of Deux-Montagnes, which includes the city of Saint-Eustache.

According to the report made public in December, GHG emissions in 2020 were 13.2% below 1990 levels, a result boosted by the effect of the pandemic. As proof, 2019 emissions were only 3% lower than those of 1990. The transportation sector remains the main emitter of GHGs and weighs down the Quebec balance sheet year after year.

The Legault government aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This mission, as has been indicated many times, involves a vast electrification operation that will require no less than 100 additional terawatt hours of energy. This is 50% of Hydro-Québec’s current production. The state-owned company is considering the construction of a hydroelectric structure on the Petit Mécatina River (Côte-Nord). It is also banking on new wind farms and energy efficiency measures.

Specializing in the construction of urban buses, Nova Bus was founded in 1993. The following year, the young company produced its very first bus model, the RTS, for Rapid Transit System. And since then, it has been a leading player in the public transit ecosystem.

In 1996, Nova Bus introduced its LFS (Low Floor System) model, whose technology is still used today on the streets of the metropolis, but also in other cities around the world. It was in 2006 that the company presented its first hybrid bus model. Then, in 2013, a natural gas model was offered.

In 2017, a page turned: Nova Bus delivered its first three fully electric buses to the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). Recently, in June 2018, the STM also awarded a $941 million contract to Nova Bus to acquire up to 830 hybrid buses. Their delivery has been underway since 2020 and should continue until 2024.

In Quebec, Nova Bus is now considered one of the major players in the urban bus niche. A subsidiary of the Volvo Group, it is based in Saint-Eustache and Saint-François-du-Lac. Its electric models are already circulating in the cities of Montreal, Brampton and Vancouver.