We meet them everywhere on the road. They are responsible for a third of polluting emissions from the Canadian transportation sector. They were the big underdogs of the industry’s electric shift…until now. With its first electric truck, Vicinity Motors Corp. wants to change that.
The company, of Aldergrove, British Columbia, last week opened order intake for its VMC 1200, a Class 3 commercial truck, considered “middle class”, somewhere between a large pickup truck and a semi. -trailer. It got off to a flying start, no pun intended: the largest subcontracted delivery truck manager for Purolator in British Columbia immediately confirmed the purchase of 1,000 vehicles.
The promise is more than tempting: sold from $150,000, the VMC 1200 promises autonomy of just over 240 kilometers when fully charged. A version with a range of more than 300 kilometers per charge is also available. In both cases, it is possible to connect the vehicle to a level 1, 2 or 3 terminal, the latter allowing rapid charging in just 20 minutes.
The VMC 1200 is subject in British Columbia to a purchase assistance incentive of $40,000 and then to a second federal incentive of an equivalent amount. The result: the buyer pays only about half the retail price, which makes his new vehicle more affordable than a truck of the same size with a diesel engine, or even natural gas.
“For a typical delivery company, it’s something like $1,000 in fuel each month that they no longer have to pay” by going electric, explains in an interview with the To have to Vicinity Motor CEO William Trainer. Naturally, government aid for purchase has a decisive effect in accelerating companies’ adoption of these types of commercial vehicles, adds Mr. Trainer.
First in North America
Vicinity Motor has another trick up its sleeve to carve out a place for itself in the North American transportation market: few, if any, manufacturers today sell vehicles like its own, which were designed entirely from an electric group.
William Trainer and his vice president of sales, John LaGourgue, also on the phone during the interview, laugh when told that they may be becoming the Tesla of the midsize commercial truck. They quickly become serious again. “There are preparers who do electric conversions, but we are really the first to offer a truck like ours and to have passed the stages of testing and certification [auprès des autorités] “, they assure.
400,000 Class 3 trucks are sold annually in Canada and the United States. The electrification potential is great for this small Canadian manufacturer. Its pilot plant, located about an hour’s drive from Vancouver, has an assembly capacity of 500 vehicles per year, which is quite insufficient to meet expectations. A second factory, whose capacity will be 10,000 units per year and which will be located in Washington State, a little south of where Vicinity Motors’ head office is located, should start operating shortly.
The next step for Vicinity Motor is to find representatives from coast to coast. The manufacturer is present in Ontario and wants to break into the Quebec market as soon as possible. Once the commercialization of the VMC 1200 is underway, a somewhat beefier Class 5 truck is in the plans.
The leaders of Vicinity Motor see with a good eye what their counterparts at Lion Electric are accomplishing from Saint-Jérôme, north of Montreal. The two manufacturers are a good illustration of the potential gains that the Canadian transportation industry could make across the continent if it manages to put zero-emission vehicles on the road quickly and in sufficient numbers. The federal government has more than once reiterated its desire to strengthen this industry by helping manufacturers such as Lion and Vicinity Motor.
The two companies are not rivals, adds William Trainer, since Lion specializes in larger electric trucks, class 7 and 8 plus. Lion also manufactures electric school buses. Vicinity Motor also produces buses, but these tend to be mid-size shuttles for the municipal or commercial market. There are also examples of his Lightning EV bus at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.