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Maple Leaf Motoring: vHub wants to be the Airbnb of trailers

Quebec startup prepares to enter U.S. market with digital platform offering smaller carriers easy accesses to trailers, and large fleets to minimize unused assets.

vHub says its platform can help carriers make money from underutilized trailers. Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Maple Leaf Motoring is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of Canadian transportation. This week: vHub prepares to launch trailer-sharing platform in the U.S., trucks get smaller boost in speed-limit pilot, Ontario could exit pot distribution business, and Calgary firm exports shipment of solidified oilsands. 

Users can rent trailers via the vHub app. Photo: Nate Tabak/FreightWaves

A Canadian startup, vHub, plans to roll out its trailer-sharing platform in the United States later in 2019.

“Trailers are assets that were built to be shared,” said Francis Roy, Vice President of the Quebec-based company, likening the concept to Airbnb. 

vHub launched in Canada in April, offering a digital platform with web and mobile app for trailer rentals. 

“We’re changing that whole experience of renting by providing renters all the equipment on the map and allowing them to book it, and send a driver quickly,” Roy said.

Roy said vHub recently surpassed the 100,000 trailer hours rented on the platform. But it hopes to accelerate growth once in the larger U.S. market. 

“Talking to people south of the border, we’re kind of stoked by the openness to work with us,” Roy said.

vHub hasn’t decided where in the U.S. it will launch or target, but Roy said the reception has been strong in the Northeast. 

The company envisions larger carriers as the primary source of the trailer rentals, and small carriers and owner-operators as the renters.

The selling point for renters – make money from underutilized assets, or even use vHub to reposition trailers.

The company charges a 10% fee on the rental fees in addition to C$1.75 per day.

Trucks get smaller boost in Ontario’s test of higher speed limits

Heavy trucks can utilize half of the extra 10 kph of speed that Ontario is allowing on three stretches of highway.

The province raised the speed limit from 100 to 110 kph on parts of Highways 402 and 417, and Queen Elizabeth Way beginning on September 26 as part of a pilot program. 

Heavy trucks will be allowed to go up to 105 mph, the maximum permitted by provincially mandated speed-limiters, Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Bob Nichols wrote in an email. 

An increase to 110 kph would require changes to the joint agreement Ontario has with neighboring Quebec over the speed limiters, Nichols wrote. 

“There are no plans to change speed limiters for large trucks,” Nichols wrote.

Ontario reportedly considers leaving cannabis distribution business

The province of Ontario is considering leaving the cannabis distribution business, according to a report by BNN Bloomberg

The province is consulting with members of the industry on pursuing a model that would allow producers to ship directly to resellers, BNN Bloomberg reported. 

The BNN Bloomberg report based on anonymous sources, and the province’s cannabis corporation would not confirm it. 

Nevertheless, a liberalizing of distribution business would be consistent with moves by Ontario’s government. It also has also been looking at privatizing its alcohol distribution business.  

Calgary-based Melius Energy says it can ship semi-solid bitumen in customized 20-foot shipping containers. Photo: Melius Energy

Calgary firm says it has successfully exported solidified oil sands

A Calgary firm, Melius Energy, said it has successfully exported semi-solid bitumen from Canada’s oil sands from the Port of Prince Rupert.

The company utilized custom 20-foot containers, allowing for the movement of petroleum products from Canada’ west coast without breaking the ban on tanker traffic. 

The shipment originated in Edmonton, Alberta. Melius did not disclose the destination. 

“Establishing a transportation solution for Canadian energy that delivers tremendous value for local producers while satisfying the demand for our energy internationally is our priority,” company president Nicole Zhang said in a statement. 

The semi-solid bitumen is called BitCrude. It’s designed to allow for convention rail and maritime transportation of oil products. 

“We have now proven that we can ship bitumen to international markets safely and efficiently.” BitCrude’s creator, Cal Broder, said in a statement.

One Comment

  1. Noble1

    ““There are no plans to change speed limiters for large trucks,” Nichols wrote.”

    Of course not . After all these speed limiters on CMV’s have been lobbied in order for large carriers to save on fuel while enforcing it on all CMV’s in order to remain competitive .

    However , if one looks at collision statistics concerning CMV’s , one will realize that most collisions are caused by other class vehicles and thus those other classed vehicles have a right to a higher speed ???

    It’s unbelievable that those who are “regulating” and those who are lobbying for such “regulations” think that they are ethical and fooling the general public with their biased discriminatory hocus pocus safety proclamations !

    In my humble opinion ………………….

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]