Ottawa, Ontario — If 2020 has shown us one thing, it is that EVs are more than just a science experiment.
As a response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to have a zero-emissions economy by 2050, which in turn, created the fully Canadian zero-emissions concept vehicle Project Arrow.
When Trudeau mentioned his plans to have a zero-emissions economy, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) President, Flavio Volpe said he was inspired by the PM’s 2019 throne speech.
Once complete, the Project Arrow concept vehicle will tour auto shows, exhibitions, and automaker’s headquarters to showcase what Canadian companies can do. Volpe called it “the best business card” the Canadian auto industry could ask for.
In early 2020, APMA invited industry stakeholders, including postsecondary institutions, to submit design and engineering proposals for Project Arrow, named after the all-Canadian-made Avro Arrow interceptor aircraft from the 1950s. And as a result, 93 Canadian companies have committed to the car, which has entered the engineering phase.
“I thought, ‘Why don’t we do our own car? In Canada, we make every single part of a vehicle for about 20 different [automakers]. So, I said, ‘Why don’t we, from stem to stern, build an all-Canadian engineered, supplied, lightweight, zero-emissions vehicle?’’ Explains Volpe.
“Let’s show everyone what Canada can do. If you can dream and you have a platform, we have a place for it.”
During the recent contract talks between Unifor and the Detroit Three, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles both committed to electric-vehicle production in Ontario. California and British Columbia will ban the sale of internal-combustion vehicles by 2035 and 2040, respectively.
Participating suppliers are footing the bill for their contribution, said Volpe, who has estimated that a concept vehicle typically costs 1.5 million to two million to build.
The cost of developing such a production vehicle is heftier. Volpe estimated that an automaker would spend about one billion developing a new zero-emissions vehicle and getting it to production.
One of the companies involved in the project is ABC Technologies, headquartered in Ontario, N.Y., northwest of Toronto. CEO Ted Sheppelman even said it’s, “more than just a science experiment.”
Volpe and Sheppleman, both think it is time for small Canadian suppliers to get serious about electrification
“Nobody’s doing anything to just spend money,” he said. “It allows us to be part of something larger than ourselves, to really highlight and showcase the capabilities of the Canadian industry. I think a lot of people get the feeling that life only revolves around a 70-kilometre circle around Detroit.
While Project Arrow is a “demonstration project,” which Volpe said could serve as the prototype of a production vehicle.
“We’re not at a production discussion, yet,” the APMA leader said. “If somebody else wants to build the Arrow at volume, I’m all ears. If somebody else wants to take all the lessons we learned building the Arrow and turn those into a company that makes things like the Arrow, it’s a bonus we didn’t account for.”