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BRP pushes innovation with local college

Five years ago, BRP invested more than $15 million into the Centre de technologies avancées-BRP (CTA) at the University of Sherbrooke in Québec, Canada, and the partnership has already been fruitful, bringing forward the electric Commander and a contract to help produce Mars and lunar vehicles for the Canadian Space Agency.

The partnership, aimed to develop new technologies for existing BRP products and training highly qualified research professionals, is unique in that it’s a private and public partnership between BRP, the University of Sherbrooke and the governments of Québec and Canada.

“For us, it was a way to form a group of people that come from the private sector and the public sector to develop technology that can be used on motor production,” BRP president and CEO José Boisjoli said.

Sixty-five people work at the CTA; some are employed by BRP, while others are with the university. BRP has had a long relationship with the University of Sherbrooke, and about half of the company’s engineers are Sherbrooke graduates.

The CTA is currently 18 months into its four-year hybrid Spyder project. The vehicle is set to have both a combustion and electric engine, unlike the all-electric Commander, in an effort to reduce emissions and fuel use while maintaining power, speed and performance. However, it will only be mass-produced if the market calls for it.

“I don’t know yet if there is enough customer benefit in what will be the cost at the end, and if there will be a market for those, but we have two years left in that program, so we have time to see the appetite for the electric Commander and maybe the hybrid Spyder, but we’re not there yet,” Boisjoli said.

Boisjoli revealed that the CTA has also developed other technologies that will be integrated into BRP products soon, though he didn’t reveal which technologies are in development or which vehicles will feature the updates.

(This story is a sidebar within: BRP adapts with small, flexible factory)

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