Joe Thompson, Canadian Metalworking
February 12, 2020

During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s most technologically advanced companies announced their next-generation tech to the world. Over the years this Las Vegas launchpad introduced us to the first videocassette recorder, the Commodore 64, DVDs, and the biggest TVs currently on the market at any given time.

As far as I’m concerned, however, the biggest news at this year’s show came from the automotive sector.

King-of-the-hillclimb Jeep chose this event to showcase its new plug-in hybrid vehicles – all branded 4xe — ahead of their upcoming 2020 rollouts. The company is changing with the times by going electric, just like Bob Dylan did in 1965, and because my Wrangler currently gets about 17 mpg, I think it’s worth a look.

The automotive assembler wasn’t the only team of dreamers that were shaking up the industry either. Enter Canadian parts-makers.

On the first day of CES, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) took centre stage to announce it will build an emissions-free concept vehicle, dubbed Project Arrow, which will be an all-Canadian effort, combining local design, engineering, and manufacturing.

The name pays homage to the Avro Arrow supersonic jet, which was designed and built in Canada in the 1950s.

“At the intersection of advanced mobility and climate change lies the challenge of our times. Future generations will ask if we ran faster or stretched out our arms farther. The Arrow will be remembered as the gauntlet we dropped in response to this call to action,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the APMA.

The process will start with a design contest this summer, which invites Canadian post-secondary institutions to submit designs. An RFP will follow, and suppliers will bid on the build with the goal of creating a virtual concept by 2021. The final, fully assembled concept vehicle then will be introduced during the 2022 automotive show season.

This mixing of technology and social change will be good for manufacturing in the long run, providing new opportunities to make parts and assemblies for a whole new generation of vehicles.

With the future of mass automotive production unclear in Canada, it’s good to see some outside-the-box thinking. These association/education/industry partnerships are idea incubators that will drive new growth at a time when it is desperately needed.

A successful Project Arrow will only lead to more partnerships and success.

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