Rio Tinto and Letenda Partnership: En Route to the Future

Since 2017, the Regional Economic Development (RED) team has been a proud partner of a pivotal project that aligns in every way with the values and priorities of Rio Tinto regarding sustainable development and decarbonisation. After six years of research and development, Letenda recently unveiled Electrip: a new generation of zero-emission electric city buses designed entirely in Quebec.

The buses were engineered and developed to meet the need for zero-emission vehicles that can replace current fossil fuel-powered fleets.

“Currently, several solutions are available, such as replacing diesel motors with electric ones,” says Nicolas Letendre, President and CEO of Letenda. “But this alternative does not solve certain problems that transit companies face, like driver visibility, accessibility for people with reduced mobility, and vehicle maintenance. With Electrip, we started with a clean slate and built a prototype focused on real customer needs.”

Because electric motors are much more compact, it was possible to change the vehicles’ shape to provide unparalleled comfort and manoeuvrability. By moving the axels to the far end of the buses, designers were able to give the vehicles low floors and more room inside, making them optimally ergonomic and accessible. The buses are highly energy efficient and engineered to perform steadfastly in Quebec winters. The insulation used will reduce electricity consumption during cold weather, among other benefits. Inspired by the aeronautics industry, another innovation is the design’s modular construction made primarily of aluminium.

An integral part of RED is to support and endorse groundbreaking projects that anticipate the next steps to building the future. Luc Cyrenne, Project Director at RED, has believed in this project from the beginning. “Along with Nicolas and his team, we had a common vision,” he says. “We liked the project and the entrepreneur from the start. Thinking back to a few years ago, it was really quite daring to present a project that was so ahead of its time. But to us, the challenge seemed attainable, and today, realising this project is something that the whole team can be proud of.”

“Rio Tinto is proud to have supported Letenda from the very beginning in the development of a new generation of zero-emission aluminium city buses that will help reduce the environmental footprint of public transit in Quebec,” says Sébastien Ross, Managing Director, Atlantic Operations for Rio Tinto Aluminium. “We are pleased to contribute $650,000, to support the company and to encourage networking with regional partners, in order to contribute to its success and maximize the economic benefits in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.”

“Rio Tinto has not just acted as a financial lever for the project,” adds Letendre. “This partnership has also given us the reach and momentum to build the bus of the future and position ourselves as a global player in the zero-emission passenger transportation sector. Thanks to this collaboration, we have developed a network of contacts in the industry, which has given the project excellent visibility.”

The project is paving the way for a new generation of city buses to boost the representation of electric vehicles in the transportation sector, for a greener, more sustainable tomorrow!


About Letenda

Letenda is a Quebec-based zero-emission bus manufacturer founded in 2016 and propelled by its values of sustainability, innovation and collaborative spirit. Letenda works with all industry stakeholders to build a sustainable business and a product that is tailored to the needs of operators and passengers. Letenda’s Electrip bus innovates through its superior energy efficiency, its unique geometry specially developed for electric propulsion and its manufacturing concept inspired by the aeronautics industry.