June 23, 2003

New regulations assist introduction of hybrids

Ottawa, Ontario – Transport Minister David Collenette announced amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations that will enhance safety and facilitate the introduction of new hybrid vehicles in Canada. The amendments also change a number of requirements regarding the transmission control functions in vehicles.

“These regulations are an important step in the adoption of new technologies by industry and consumers”, said Mr. Collenette. “These changes support the introduction of fuel-efficient vehicles, which will help reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, while enhancing safety.”

One amendment specifically will facilitate the introduction of hybrid vehicles to Canada by allowing a broader range of innovative technologies to be used by vehicle manufacturers. To reduce fuel consumption, hybrid vehicles are powered by two engines (regular combustion and electric) and can automatically switch from one power source to the other or use both engines at the same time. This automatic switchover using the engine starter was not allowed under the previous safety regulations.

The other amendments introduce new safety requirements regarding the transmissions of automatic and manual vehicles.

For vehicles equipped with automatic transmission, a new regulation (brake shift interlock) will require the driver of the vehicle to be positioned in the driver’s seat and to press the brake pedal in order to shift the transmission control out of the park position. This regulation will prevent the sudden acceleration of the vehicle from the parked position. For manual transmission vehicles, runaways will be prevented by the introduction of another new regulation (clutch ignition interlock) which will require the clutch pedal to be fully depressed while the key is turned in the ignition in order for the vehicle to start. Sudden accelerations and runaways, though rare, have caused accidents with injuries and fatalities.

The regulations can be found in the Canada Gazette Part II.

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