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VIDEO: Launch of first fully electric commercial truck in Maple Ridge

Pioneer Auto Group is currently the sole distributer across BC, with eyes set on Canada
Owner and president of Pioneer Auto Group, Raymond Van Empel, left, and president and CEO of Vicinity Motor Corp., William Trainer, cut the ribbon at the official launch of the VMC 1200 at Pioneer Auto Group in Maple Ridge. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Maple Ridge saw the roll out of the first fully electric commercial trucks in Canada.

Pioneer Auto Group, on Lougheed Highway by Burnett Street, had 11 of the vehicles on their lot for the official event – complete with a ribbon cutting with representatives from Vicinity Motor Corp (VMC), the company that manufactures the vehicles, on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

“It’s exciting because it’s the first 100 per cent electric vehicle,” said Peter Cairns, general manager at Pioneer Auto Group.

The vehicles, he explained, are initially put together at a VMC facility in Ferndale, Washington, before they are transported to another facility in Aldergrove for completion.

Each vehicle can run up to 241 kilometres on a single charge with a maximum speed of 100 km/h. They are about six metres in length with the cab – including a four-metre flatbed area – and each truck is about two metres wide.

Vicinity is also promoting the fact that the vehicles have no sound, which is perfect for late-night deliveries to eliminate noise, and that there is no exhaust smell in the cab to annoy the driver.

Pioneer Auto Group will be the sole distributor of the vehicle, the VMC 1200.

John LaGourgue, vice president of sales and corporate development for Vicinity Motor Corp., emphasized how huge the event was for the company.

“These are the first Class 3 vehicles for sale in Canada,” he said.

“Pioneer already has ordered 1,000 of them, so that’s over $100 million U.S.. That’s the beginning. This is the first step,” he noted.

President and CEO of Vicinity Motor Corp., William Trainer, added that their company has been on a journey towards electrifying vehicles since 2008 and the VMC 1200 had been in the works for about three to four years before they were able to bring their vision to life.

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He said the trucks are the perfect size for use in a municipality and noted that they have a lot of interest from municipalities all across the province.

“Generally, one of the vehicles we have out in the front there has a little dump box on the back and a little container storage behind it. That’s ideal for the municipalities because a lot of them use them for collecting garbage out of the city parks,” he explained.

He also noted that every truck is built to accommodate an onboard charger, meaning it comes with an electric chord that can be plugged in at home.

“So you can charge this overnight in a standard residential home (socket) in about five hours and then go out and get your 240 kilometres in a day,” he said, adding that it can be plugged into a Level 1, 2, and 3 charger – with a fast charger fully charging the vehicle in about 20 minutes.

The VMC 1200 should cost about $312 per month to operate, said Trainer, compared to a comparable diesel truck which costs more than $2,000 per month in fuel.

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“It’s just a great savings as well as reducing the carbon footprint and having the reduction of greenhouse gases,” he said.

Owner and president of Pioneer Auto Group, Raymond Van Empel, was especially pleased to launch the vehicle in Maple Ridge, out of all his 18 locations across the province, because he said, he is a Maple Ridge boy, attending Maple Ridge Secondary, graduating in 1983.

“For us, it is the right place to be at the right time in Maple Ridge,” he said.

Van Empel said he has buyers in line “miles-deep” who have told him that when he has the vehicles they will bring a cheque.

“We fully expect – if they can deliver them, if they can build them – we’ll be able to sell them,” said Van Empel.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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