Quebec generally, and Montreal specifically, are well positioned to take advantage of the coming revolution in transportation, says Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. “We have everything we need to make our presence felt: a critical core of technology talent and businesses, a concentration of global leaders in artificial intelligence, and, of course, world-renowned creativity.”
Leblanc’s comments came in a statement that accompanied the release of “Positioning Quebec and Montréal as leaders in electric and smart transportation,” a study by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and Propulsion Québec, the province’s smart and electric transportation cluster.
“The future of mobility is connected, autonomous, shared, electric vehicles,” said Sarah Houde, CEO of Propulsion Québec. “This study shows that Quebec has assets to distinguish itself in these niches.”
There is growing momentum behind the large-scale electrification of vehicle fleets and the development of smart, connected technology, though how long the transformation will take is still anyone’s guess. This study calls on the province and the city to prepare themselves with a nimble regulatory framework, appropriate financing and ambitious public policy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support local businesses in an emerging sector of the economy.
As the study makes clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean simply throwing public money at unproven technology. For instance, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal believes that reforms to the taxi industry, currently before the National Assembly in Bill 17 (An Act respecting remunerated passenger transportation by automobile), could enable the establishment of a regulatory framework for pilot projects involving autonomous electric vehicles, whose arrival Leblanc has characterized as inevitable.
Insurance reform is another issue that will have to be addressed if electric autonomous vehicles are to take to Quebec’s roads. Quebec currently permits autonomous vehicles, but only as part of an approved pilot project, and the government sets insurance liability provisions. The study calls for a single policy from the province’s public insurer that covers all bodily injury regardless of the technology used.
If rules for public tenders were revised to allow consideration of the total cost of ownership of vehicles, electric vehicles would be far more competitive, the study argues. Formalizing calls for expressions of interest in advance of a call for tender could raise awareness of new technologies. Framing tenders in terms of need (i.e., desired deliverables) would also leave an open door to new technologies.
The full study is available in French only; highlights are available in English.