Most people don’t realize that Canada has a large automotive manufacturing sector that is served by hundreds of auto parts suppliers. Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association represents 90% of all those independent automotive parts manufacturers, which means its members make enough parts to build entire automobiles. That realization led AMPA to devise a plan to build an electric SUV almost entirely from Canadian sources, including the battery. The plan is called Project Arrow and it has received financial support from the Canadian government, to the tune of nearly $4 million.
In an interview, APMA chief technical officer Fraser Dunn tells Automotive News Canada (paywall) that Project Arrow is on course, with a reveal planned at the CES show in Las Vegas in January, 2023. Concept drawings of the car show it to be larger than a Tesla Model Y and smaller than a Model X. Whether the silly sliding front doors will ever make it into production is anyone’s guess, but the tentative design involves some very creative thinking.
Dunn says the car will be assembled from eight mega-stampings that are laser-welded together. It will also feature large magnesium castings for the front and rear frames, an idea inspired by the Tesla Model Y. The projected sale price of the SUV is between $40,000 and $60,000. But there’s more. Dunn say the engineers behind Project Arrow are also targeting at least Level 3 autonomy.
Rather than relying on battery cells from Asian suppliers like CATL, LG Energy Solution, Panasonic, or SK Innovation, Project Arrow will be powered by cylindrical cells from VoltaXplore, a joint venture between Martinrea International and Montreal-based graphene firm NanoXplore Inc. It will also employ technologies from Ontario Tech University and its Automotive Center of Excellence in Oshawa. So far, more than 400 Canadian companies have expressed interest in taking part in the Project Arrow, which expects to have a running prototype on the road in about a year, according to CarScoops.
Dunn thinks many of the design features of today’s SUVs are silly. He says the Project Arrow will have a relatively simple design that leaves out superfluous parts. “You just have to drive down the road nowadays and any SUV on the road has plastic bits on plastic bits on plastic bits for no reason,” he says. “Even structural elements that are normally hidden away behind plastic trim will be on show and become part of the design.”
Street Scooter tried something like this a few years ago, but wound up going bankrupt. Will Project Arrow find success where others have failed? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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