Quebec is closing the door to the idea of expanding the criteria of its aid program to promote the purchase of electric school buses, even if this measure costs the life of the Drummondville company Autobus Thomas.
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On Monday, the Ministry of Transport told the Journal that it was having discussions with the management of Autobus Thomas so that this company could produce more here. However, there are “no plans to expand the program”.
“As part of our plan to fight climate change, we have chosen to electrify the school bus fleet with buses assembled in Quebec,” said spokesperson Claudia Loupret.
“The MTQ and the MEI are currently in discussions with Autobus Thomas to explore the possibility of increasing Canadian content and thus further supporting the company in this electric transition,” she added.
However, these discussions would have taken place after requests from the management of Autobus Thomas and nothing would change for the moment.
“Currently, there is no development,” lamented the Journal Éric Couturier, vice-president of sales. “We managed to have a meeting only six weeks ago. Afterwards, they came back to us and we met them a second time”, he continues.
On Monday, Le Journal wrote that Autobus Thomas feared having to close shop by next January if the government’s subsidy program for electric buses remained in its current form.
It must be said that the Quebec company’s order book for new buses has been dry since last July.
From around fifty workers, the company now has around thirty, and its revenues have shrunk from $50 million to $10 million.
To support the electrification of school buses, the government announced in 2021 an investment program of $250.7 million.
To have access to it, however, the electric vehicles must be manufactured in Canada and those of the dealer here Autobus Thomas come from a subsidiary of the German Daimler located in North Carolina.
Several companies in the industry believe that this program allows Lion Electric to have a virtual monopoly in the market.