MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


David Armstrong

Geographical Areas

Oxford County, Ontario


On October 26, 2017 Oxford County became the first municipality in Canada to deploy gasoline-electric hybrid ambulances as part of their Community Sustainability Plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting low-carbon transportation. The Oxford solution utilizes aftermarket hybrid electric-gasoline propulsion systems that leverage two primary technologies: regenerative braking, which uses the inertia of the vehicle to store energy in a battery cell during deceleration; and acceleration assist, which uses this stored energy to assist propulsion of the vehicle during acceleration events and thereby reduces gasoline consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Due to high demand for aftermarket hybrid propulsion systems, Oxford received three of their ambulances prior to the hybrid system installations. This created an opportunity for a before-and-after study of the impact of the hybrid systems on the performance of the three vehicles. The vehicles were run in three different operating theatres: urban (low km/trip); rural (high km/trip); and mixed urban-rural (medium km/trip) both pre and post hybrid installation to: calculate if a full return-on-investment is achievable over the useful life of the asset; determine the hybrid’s impact on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions; assess which operating scenarios produce the most environmentally impactful outcomes; calculate the optimal price point for the hybrid systems; and generate a decision tool that would allow other municipalities to assess which of their own operating environments would benefit most from the implementation of hybrid technology. It was found that the hybrid propulsion systems produced the greatest environmental and financial returns in urban (low km/trip) operating theatres, and that depending upon the price of fuel, and repair and maintenance costs a 100% return-on-investment may be achievable during the vehicle’s six-year service life.