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Red River College Plugs In to Electric Vehicle Partnership

April 26, 2011

Chris Stoddart, VP Engineering Services for New Flyer Industries, provides details of RRC's new electric vehicle partnership. 

Premier Greg Selinger today announced the province will invest $1 million for the development of an all-electric transit bus and charging system, and $100,000 for the creation of an electric-vehicle learning and demonstration centre at Red River College, two of several initiatives under Manitoba’s Electric Vehicle Road Map.

“This is exciting.  We are working together to develop an entirely electric bus to get families around in cities all over North America,” said Selinger.  “We’re also creating opportunities for young people right here in the province to become leaders in developing and building clean, electric vehicles and helping cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”

The $3-million, three-year project brings Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, New Flyer Industries, Manitoba Hydro, Red River College and the province together.  The bus development will be completed within one year and tested in Manitoba for two more years, the premier said.  Project development will be focused at Red River College and New Flyer Industries’ Winnipeg facilities.

The electric-bus development will benefit from New Flyer’s experience in building hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell buses, Mitsubishi’s leading-edge lithium-ion battery technologies, Manitoba Hydro’s grid-management knowledge and Red River College’s instructors and students who can assist in solving the technological challenges coming from the project.

“It is our great pleasure to take part in this important project in Manitoba,” said Ichiro Fukue, senior vice-president, Mitsubishi.  “It is also a great honour for us that our state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology has been selected and can contribute to a cleaner life for Manitoba people.  Our challenge to develop cleaner and sustainable energy in Manitoba has just started from here today.  We hope that this joint demonstration of the electric bus is the only a beginning of a long and strong relationship between Manitoba and Mitsubishi.”

“This is very positive news for vehicle technology in Manitoba.  It is great to see our government being progressive and embracing this technology,” said New Flyer president and CEO Paul Soubry.  “All-electric buses are an emerging need in the heavy-duty transit market as our customers are focused on cleaner technologies and reducing fuel costs.  We are pleased to be the vehicle supplier for this demonstrator program as the funding provided serves as the catalyst to commence development.  This program is consistent with the New Flyer strategy in regards to product innovation and we will leverage our existing resources and knowledge gained through electric trolley, hybrid and fuel cell buses. ”

“Manitoba Hydro is pleased to be a part of a project that provides such an exciting opportunity to influence the future of mass transportation and ensure that Manitoba businesses can play an important part in that future,” Bob Brennan, Manitoba Hydro president and CEO, said.  “Understanding where electric buses will fit into the transportation mix and how charging will impact the grid will ensure that Manitoba Hydro can reliably meet these requirements.”                                                                                 

To support the development of electric vehicles in Manitoba, Selinger also announced a new Electric Vehicle Technology and Education Centre (EV-TEC) at Red River College.

“We all know that better training opportunities, like this new one at Red River College, will give more Manitobans the skills they need to get well-paying jobs and give their families hope for a better future,” said Selinger.  “We’re proud to be a part of it.”

The province will provide funding of $100,000 to support the centre.

“This centre will establish Red River College as a Canadian leader in electric-vehicle testing and research and will allow us to enhance our training programs to better prepare students for the future of the automotive industry,” said Stephanie Forsyth, president of Red River College.

The(EV-TEC) will be a demonstration site for various all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles and their recharging equipment.  The public will have a first-hand opportunity to learn more about these emerging technologies as electric vehicles become commercially available.

“The province is pleased to partner with Red River College for this exciting initiative under Manitoba’s Electric Vehicle Road Map,” said Selinger.  “When we’ve worked together in the past, the college has played an integral if not critical role, particularly in adapting vehicles for our cold weather conditions.”