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Aldergrove electric bus maker building self-driving version

Vicinity strikes deal with U.S.-based software developer

Aldergrove-based Vicinity Motor Corp. (VMC), a builder of transit buses and work trucks, is working with a U.S. software company on a self-driving electric bus.

An agreement with the Ann Arbor Michigan-based ADASTEC Corp. aims to create a bus that meets Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) level-four standards for “high driving automation,” using the firm’s automated driving software platform,

SAE level-four vehicles can operate in self-driving mode, but a human still has the option to manually override.

The Vicinity Autonomous Lightning EV bus was described as “a medium-duty, fully electrified, low-floor automated transit bus that prioritizes accessibility, sustainability, and innovation,” by ADASTEC product management director Cemre Kavvasoğlu.

Vicinity announced plans to deploy the first Autonomous Lightning EVs, at both the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and at Michigan State University, in the second quarter of 2024.

Brent Phillips, vice-president of sales at Vicinity, called the agreement with ADATEC a “game-changer” that will produce the “first Buy America, fully [Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards] FMVSS-compliant, low-floor bus.”

Announcement of the deal comes a few months after Vicinity opened a 100,000-sq.-ft. U.S. “manufacturing campus” in Ferndale, Wash. in September. The company’s home base continues to operate on 262nd Street in Aldergrove.

The Ferndale facility has an annual assembly capacity of up to 6,250 VMC 1200 all-electric trucks.

In a letter to shareholders, Vicinity founder and chief executive officer William Trainer said the company had a $150-million backlog of orders as of Sept. 30, 2023, most of them for electric buses and trucks, and was “well positioned to be the commercial EV supplier of choice for many.”

READ ALSO: Aldergrove electric truck and bus maker reports long order list

First established in 2008 as Grande West, the manufacturer was established by Trainer to fill a request for smaller and mid-size bus orders that BC Transit was interested in pursuing.

Grande West has since been renamed after its Vicinity model, a popular low-floor, mid-sized transit bus available in lengths of 27.5, 30, and 35 feet.

In 2020, the company estimated there were roughly 500 Vicinity buses on Canadian and American roads.

In 2022, it began producing the VMC 1200, Canada’s first Class 3 electric truck.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Canada’s first electric work trucks being built in Aldergrove

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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