High-speed train between Windsor and Toronto ‘an interesting project’ for Infrastructure Bank, Ottawa says

A high-speed rail system connecting Toronto to southern Ontario cities is “an interesting project” that the federal government will examine as a potential investment for the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Friday morning that the province is moving ahead with preliminary design work for a high-speed rail corridor connecting Toronto and Windsor, as well as investing $15-million for an environmental assessment.

“The proposed high-speed rail link between Toronto and Windsor is an interesting project which we will examine alongside our municipal and provincial partners to see how it may fit with our programs and as a project for the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB), should Parliament approve the legislation to create the CIB,” said Brook Simpson, press secretary for federal infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi.

The government’s new infrastructure financing agency, which Ottawa expects to be operational by late 2017, will invest $35 billion to attract private investors to infrastructure projects with revenue-generating potential.

In debate in parliament last week, Sohi said the CIB could fund high-speed rail systems, such as the proposed link between Toronto and Windsor, and another connecting Edmonton and Calgary in Alberta.

“We can undertake projects that some people think are unimaginable, like … the high-speed link from Toronto to Windsor,” Sohi said.

“How do we fund these projects? We fund them by engaging the private sector, by mobilizing innovative thinking around that.”

The proposed Toronto-Windsor train would travel at speeds up to 250-kilometres per hour, with stops in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Chatham and Windsor, as well as a connection to Pearson International Airport.

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

A report commissioned by the provincial government and written by David Collenette, the former federal Minister of Transport, pegged the cost of a high-speed rail project at around $21-billion. Collenette suggested the province engage with key private-sector partners for the financing of the high-speed rail project but noted that capital costs “are generally not fully recoverable through fares and other operating revenues alone.”

Mark Romoff, president and chief executive of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, said the project — which he is happy to see moving forward — fits well with the CIB’s proposed mandate.

“The way the bank has been defined, it will focus on revenue-generating major and complex projects. There is nothing that fits that description better than something as significant as this high-speed rail initiative could be,” he said. “I think there’s a good match there between the intent of the bank and the kinds of projects it will be most responsive to.”

Wynne called the plan “a game changer” and said high speed rail “will make a real difference in people’s lives and drive economic growth and jobs.”

How do we fund these projects? We fund them by engaging the private sector, by mobilizing innovative thinking around that.

But Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto, believes Ontarians should be concerned about the project, which he says follows a classic formula for such mega-projects: overestimate the economic benefits, underestimate the costs to get the project going.

“The private sector will happily finance the project, but they want a revenue stream that’s going to pay them back, and in this case it’s highly unlikely any user-fee generated revenue is going to be sufficient to pay back the really high project construction costs,” Siemiatycki said.

The feasibility report estimates that by 2041, more than 10 million travellers would be using the high speed rail line annually, something Siemiatycki is skeptical of, given that Via Rail transported 920,000 passengers along the Toronto-Windsor corridor in all of 2016.

The prospect of a high-speed rail train connecting southern Ontario to as far as Quebec has been repeatedly floated by provincial and federal governments for decades. Advocates have argued that North America is an untapped market for high-speed rail.

Financial Post

Away nears 100K stylish suitcases sold as it raises $20M

 What do people actually want in luggage? A phone charger, unbreakable exterior, and maximum packing space at a resonable price is what Away discovered. So it built a line of sleek but expansive polycarbonite suitcases equipped with battery packs, and sold them direct-to-consumer. Now after selling nearly 100,000 suitcases and generating $20 million in revenue, Away has raised a $20 million… Read More

Ford to add Android Auto and CarPlay to 2016 Ford SYNC 3 cars via update

 Ford is updating a large number of 2016 model year cars equipped with SYNC 3 infotainment software, adding Android Auto and CarPlay to the vehicles with a free, over-the-air update via Wi-Fi, or using either USB or going through their dealer. The upgrade will be available for around 800,000 vehicles in total, giving a huge number of Ford car owners the chance to get big infotainment… Read More

Ottawa hints Boeing shouldn’t take military contracts for granted in trade spat with Bombardier

The federal government has hinted that Boeing should not take future military contracts with Canada for granted, a veiled threat that coincided with a spat between the aerospace giant and rival Bombardier.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s comment that it’s “reviewing current military procurement that relates to Boeing” appeared to be a not-so-subtle hint that the government would revisit its purchase of Super Hornets.

The government has said it plans to sole-source 18 Super Hornets as a stop-gap measure before running a full competition to replace its aging CF-18 fleet.

The Liberals say the Super Hornets, which internal estimates suggest could cost as much as $2 billion, are urgently needed.

Military officials and defence industry representatives contacted by The Canadian Press on Thursday were united in assuming that Freeland’s warning related to the planned Super Hornet purchase.

Freeland’s comments came as the next potential Canada-U.S. trade dispute unfolded Thursday with the aerospace giants clashing at a Washington hearing.

“The U.S. market is the most open in the world, but we must take action if our rules are being broken,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement after the hearing began into Boeing’s claim that Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its CSeries planes at below-market prices.

Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group said the Canadian government’s move was inevitable, putting into question Boeing’s strategy in taking on Bombardier.

“If Boeing is smart it’ll press the do-over button and walk away,” he said in an interview, adding the aeronautics powerhouse has much more to risk from losing military contracts than the tiny gain from a successful trade complaint.

“Boeing values Canada as a customer and supplier-partner for both our commercial and defence businesses,” said company spokesman Dan Curran.

“Two of Canada’s most recent acquisitions of Boeing military products, the C-17 Globemaster and CH-47 Chinook, were delivered on-time and/or ahead of schedule.”

In an emailed statement Boeing also pointed out that it places substantial amounts of commercial and defence work in Canada and has a supply chain that “leverages the breadth and depth of the Canadian aerospace industry.”

Lobbyists, lawyers and aerospace executives crowded a room in Washington for a little battle playing out in the broader context of the day’s larger trade news: the U.S. announcement that NAFTA renegotiations will start in the next 90 days.

Bombardier has made it clear that its true goal is to grab half the international market share for 100-to-150-seat aircraft, according to Boeing, which argues its rival has received an unfair head start from Canadian taxpayers.

Boeing vice-president Raymond Conner said the sale of cheap, subsidized planes to Delta Air Lines helped build momentum for Bombardier to enter a new market. If Bombardier reaches its stated goal, he said, it would squeeze Boeing from that market and cost the company US$330 million a year in annual sales.

“Today we are at a critical moment,” Conner told the seven-member U.S. International Trade Commission. “If you don’t fix it now, it will be too late to do anything about it later.”

Boeing has petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate subsidies of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft that it says have allowed the company to export planes at well below cost. A preliminary determination on the petition is expected by June 12.

If the ITC determines there is a threat of injury to the U.S. industry, preliminary countervailing duties could be announced in July, followed in October by preliminary anti-dumping duties, unless the deadlines are extended. Final determinations are scheduled for October and December.

Boeing is calling for countervailing duties of 79.41 per cent and anti-dumping charges of 79.82 per cent.

It complains that Bombardier has received more than US$3 billion in government subsidies so far that have allowed it to engage in “predatory pricing.”

Lawyers for the U.S. aerospace giant argued Thursday that Bombardier’s own words prove it was rescued financially by multibillion-dollar assistance from the Quebec government, which last year invested US$1 billion in exchange for a 49.5 per cent stake in the CSeries. The company also shored up its finances by selling a 30 per cent stake in its railway division to pension fund manager Caisse de depot for US$1.5 billion.

Bombardier representatives countered that their planes never competed with Boeing in a sale to Delta — which the American rival describes as a seminal moment.

Bombardier lawyer Peter Lichtenbaum said the plaintiff is a global powerhouse that hasn’t lost any sales as a result of Bombardier, has an enviable order backlog and doesn’t even compete with Bombardier in the sales campaigns it has complained about because the CSeries is smaller than Boeing’s 737-800 and Max 8 planes.

“Boeing’s petition in this case is unprecedented in its overreach,” he said. “If this is a case of David vs. Goliath, Boeing has cast itself in the wrong role.”

Boeing’s annual sales were US$94.6 billion last year. That means the US$330 million Conner expressed concern about amounts to one-third of one per cent of its annual sales. Bombardier revenues last year were US$16.3 billion, including US$9.9 billion from aerospace activities.

‘Stand up for American companies’: Bombardier and Boeing clash at trade hearing in Washington

WASHINGTON — The next potential Canada-U.S. trade dispute unfolded Thursday as aerospace giants clashed at a Washington hearing that marked the formal launch of investigations into Boeing’s allegations that Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its CSeries planes at below-market prices.

“The U.S. market is the most open in the world, but we must take action if our rules are being broken,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement after the hearing began.

“While assuring the case is decided strictly on a full and fair assessment of the facts, we will do everything in our power to stand up for American companies and their workers.”

U.S. aeronautics powerhouse Boeing argued at the hearing that duties should be imposed on Bombardier aircraft, insisting its smaller Montreal-based rival receives government subsidies that give it an illicit toehold in the international market.

Lobbyists, lawyers and aerospace executives crowded the room for a little battle playing out in the broader context of the day’s larger trade news: the U.S. announcement that NAFTA renegotiations will start in the next 90 days.

Bombardier has made it clear that its true goal is to grab half the international market share for 100-to-150-seat aircraft, according to Boeing, which argues its rival has received an unfair head start from Canadian taxpayers.

Boeing vice-president Raymond Conner said the sale of cheap, subsidized planes to Delta Air Lines helped build momentum for Bombardier to enter a new market. If Bombardier reaches its stated goal, he said, it would squeeze Boeing from that market and cost the company US$330 million a year in annual sales.

“Today we are at a critical moment,” Conner told the seven-member U.S. International Trade Commission. “If you don’t fix it now, it will be too late to do anything about it later. … What we want is competition that is fair …

“You guys can fix this before it is too late.”

Boeing has petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate subsidies of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft that it says have allowed the company to export planes at well below cost. A preliminary determination on the petition is expected by June 12.

Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

If the ITC determines there is a threat of injury to the U.S. industry, preliminary countervailing duties could be announced in July, followed in October by preliminary anti-dumping duties, unless the deadlines are extended. Final determinations are scheduled for October and December.

Boeing is calling for countervailing duties of 79.41 per cent and anti-dumping charges of 79.82 per cent.

The process is similar to the one that has led to duties on Canadian softwood lumber. These are among the looming trade disputes with the U.S., as NAFTA talks could raise the heat on differences over dairy, dispute resolution auto parts and other issues.

Boeing complains that Bombardier has received more than US$3 billion in government subsidies so far that have allowed Bombardier to engage in “predatory pricing.”

Lawyers for the U.S. aerospace giant argued Thursday that Bombardier’s own words prove it was rescued financially by multibillion-dollar assistance from the Quebec government, which last year invested US$1 billion in exchange for a 49.5 per cent stake in the CSeries. The company also shored up its finances by selling a 30 per cent stake in its railway division to pension fund manager Caisse de depot for US$1.5 billion.

The federal government recently provided a $372.5-million loan. That’s on top of about $1 billion received in 2008 from Ottawa, Quebec and Britain to develop the CSeries.

Bombardier representatives countered that their planes never competed with Boeing in a sale to Delta — which the American rival describes as a seminal moment.

Bombardier lawyer Peter Lichtenbaum said the plaintiff is a global powerhouse that hasn’t lost any sales as a result of Bombardier, has an enviable order backlog and doesn’t even compete with Bombardier in the sales campaigns it has complained about because the CSeries is smaller than Boeing’s 737-800 and Max 8 planes.

“Boeing’s petition in this case is unprecedented in its overreach,” he said. “If this is a case of David vs. Goliath, Boeing has cast itself in the wrong role.”

Boeing’s annual sales were US$94.6 billion last year. That means the US$330 million Conner expressed concern about amounts to one-third of one per cent of its annual sales. Bombardier revenues last year were US$16.3 billion, including US$9.9 billion from aerospace activities.

 

The Canadian Press

Bombardier in talks with Chinese aircraft manufacturer for potential investment: report

Bombardier has reportedly held talks with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (Comac) about a potential investment in the Montreal-based company’s commercial aerospace division.

According to a news report by the Financial Times, sources said Comac – China’s state-owned aerospace manufacturer – is working with at least one bank on a deal that could involve an investment in Bombardier’s commercial aerospace division, or a stake in its CSeries program. 

A spokesperson for Bombardier said the company would not comment on market rumours or speculation.

Bombardier received $1 billion from the Quebec government for its CSeries program, and the federal government provided a $372.5 million loan towards development of its Global 7000 business aircraft program, as well as the CSeries program. 

Earlier this month, Comac’s C919 completed its maiden flight in Shanghai. The aircraft is the first independently developed by China. 

“This is not only a major historic breakthrough in China’s aviation industry, but also a significant achievement made by China in deeply implementing the strategy of driving development by innovation and comprehensively promoting the structural reform of the supply said,” Comac said of the maiden flight in a news release. 

Bombardier has previously engaged in partnerships with the Chinese manufacturer. 

In 2012, Bombardier announced it planned on strengthening its strategic partnership with the company with an agreement that involved collaboration on the development and customer operating efficiencies of the C919 and Bombardier’s CSeries. 

Bombardier’s CSeries program is currently at the centre of what could be a major  trade dispute between Canada and the United States. 

Last month, American aerospace giant Boeing filed a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce seeking an anti-dumping, countervailing duty order against the sale of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft. Boeing has alleged that Bombardier sold the jets to Delta at an “absurdly low” price, well below the cost of manufacturing the jet. 

Bombardier lawyers were in a Washington, D.C. courtroom on Thursday, arguing against the petition and saying it was “unprecedented in its overreach.” 

With files from the Canadian Press.

Uber Freight launches to connect truck drivers with available shipments

 Uber is now the ‘Uber for trucking’ – Uber Freight is a new service from the ride hailing company that pairs up trucking companies, including independent operators, with loads that need to be hauled from one place to another. The app looks a lot like the main Uber app, but it’s targeted towards vetted and approved drivers, who can browse for nearby available loads,… Read More

‘We will not develop any more’: Volvo says its new generation of diesel engines could be the last

BERLIN — Swedish carmaker Volvo’s latest generation of diesel engines could be its last as the cost of reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide is becoming too much, Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines,” Samuelsson told German’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview.

However, a Volvo Cars spokesman said on Wednesday Samuelsson had been discussing options rather than a firm plan to stop the further development of diesel engines.

Samuelsson later said in a statement emailed to Reuters he believed diesel would still play a crucial role in the next few years in helping the company meet targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, being more fuel-efficient than petrol engines.

“We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology. As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required,” he said.

In the FAZ interview Samuelsson said Volvo would continue improving the current range, first introduced in 2013, to meet future emissions standards, with production likely to go on until about 2023.

And until 2020 he said diesel would be needed to help meet carbon dioxide emission limits set by the European Union, but after that other regulations would come into play, with the costs of making engines compliant with ever higher anti-pollution standards meaning it would no longer be worth it.

Instead, Volvo will invest in the electric and hybrid cars, with its first pure electric model due on the market in 2019.

“We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design,” Samuelsson said.

Samuelsson has previously said that tighter emissions rules will push up the price of diesel-engined cars to the point where plug-in hybrids will become an attractive alternative.

The average carbon dioxide emissions limit for European carmakers’ fleets will need to fall from 130 grams per kilometre to 95 grams in 2021, forcing them to invest more in exhaust emissions technology.

Diesel cars account for over 50 per cent of all new registrations in Europe, making the region by far the world’s biggest diesel market. Volvo, owned by China’s Geely, sells 90 per cent of its XC 90 offroaders in Europe with diesel engines.

The scandal over Volkwagen’s cheating of U.S. environmental tests to mask emissions of nitrogen oxides, which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease, means manufacturers are facing intense scrutiny over the true level of pollutants being emitted by their cars.

Goldman Sachs believes a regulatory crackdown could add 300 euros (US$325) per engine to diesel costs that are already some 1,300 euros above their petrol-powered equivalents, as carmakers race to bring real NOx emissions closer to their much lower test-bench scores.

© Thomson Reuters 2017