Inside the shop of Aldergrove-based transit company, Grande West. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)

Inside the shop of Aldergrove-based transit company, Grande West. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)

Aldergrove transit company expands south while exploring greener technology

Grande West announced new American facility and will have an electric bus on the road in 2021

In a year where development and advancement has stalled amid the global coronavirus pandemic, an Aldergrove-based transit vehicle design company, has found a way to not only adapt, but move forward.

Established in 2008 by William Trainer, Grande West was formed to fill a request for smaller and mid-size bus orders that BC Transit was interested in pursuing.

As a result, the Vicinity model became a popular low floor, heavy-duty, mid-sized option sold in Canada and the United States – available in lengths of 27.5, 30, and 35 feet.

Transit frequenters will recognize the light design models, often called one of the quietest on the market; Vicinities can be found in typically smaller communities across Canada and the United States.

John LaGourgue, vice president of corporate development, said there are roughly 500 Vicinity buses on Canadian and American roads today – running on diesel and compressed natural gas.

Now, a partnership with LION E-Mobility AG, a Swiss holding company that focuses on electrical energy storage and lithium-ion battery system technology, will help lead to electric Vicinities hitting the road in 2021.

“EV is the future,” LaGourgue told the Aldergrove Star.

As part of this contract, LION Smart is carrying out high-tech work to verify the accessibility of the integrated battery pack solution.

The development contract includes engineering services in the fields of software, mechanical and electrical adaptation and the integration of the 400V BMW battery packs into the demonstrator transit model.

“There will be on board charging so it can charge anywhere,” LaGourgue explained.

The 30 foot models will seat 24 passengers and accommodate four wheel chair spaces.

The Vicinity LT EV with an electric propulsion drive system is available for 2021 deliveries.

LaGourgue said the design is likely to be demonstrated in January and even taken to the American Public Transportation Association in California.

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On top of the electric development, Grande West announced that they’ve entered into a contract to purchase commercial property to be used for U.S. operational headquarters for $8 million.

The company intends to purchase up to four acres of commercial property just across the border in Washington for a state of the art operational facility after finalizing a feasibility study, architectural, and technical review.

Operations at the facility will include Buy America assembly, pre-delivery inspections, research and development, as well as general technical work and servicing.

LaGourgue said these announcements will significantly add to the payroll and expand the company; Grande West current employs more than 40 people.

People can find more information on Grande West at https://grandewest.com/index.php.

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BC Transit buses built at Aldergrove-based transit company, Grande West. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)

BC Transit buses built at Aldergrove-based transit company, Grande West. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)

Inside the shop of Aldergrove-based transit company, Grande West. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)

Inside the shop of Aldergrove-based transit company, Grande West. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)