Canada’s Project Arrow zero emission electric vehicle visits Windsor

Dave Waddell/Windsor Star

The zero emission, electric Project Arrow, representing the capabilities of the future of the Canadian automotive sector, made its first appearance in its finished form Monday in the city that helped put the nation on wheels.

Representatives of the local automotive sector, several who played key roles in the development of the Arrow, gathered at the Invest WindsorEssex Automobility and Innovation Centre to see the vehicle and hear an update on the project from APMA (Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association) president Flavio Volpe.

“Everyone is happy to see it,” Volpe said. “It’s like an attraction coming to town. “We had about 70 people here half an hour early for the event to see it. It’s been very positively received.” Volpe said the Windsor-Essex community has much interest in the vehicle with 35 per cent of the 244 companies involved in the project being located locally. While that may not surprise those who are well versed in the city’s century-long automotive history, the nature of those firms just might.

 “What may surprise people is a lot of these (local) companies are in the advanced technology application side of it,” Volpe said. “When you’re talking about Windsor now, you are talking about one of the really important connected mobility hubs.” Two of the most important new local technology firms which were central to the project were the cybersecurity company Vehiqilla and the electric vehicle software company Ettractive. Ettractive was responsible for all of Arrow’s various systems being able to connect properly with each other without having to shut down one system and start another.

Vehiqilla blanketed the Arrow with seven layers of cybersecurity. “Once that discussion has started, Vehiqilla can play a role.” Khan added the project has also helped build relationships that will be critical going forward for Canadian companies. “One the biggest benefits for a two-year-old startup company like mine and Ettractive is being included in the wider ecosystem,” Khan said. “You have to look at the industry from a holistic perspective not as one component. Knowing of the capabilities of other companies and getting to interact with them has been very useful.”

 One of those companies Vehiqilla and Ettractive both worked closely with is Toronto-based Inago. Inago makes advanced intuitive conversational platforms for automotive, consumer electronics and other AI inspired manufacturers. “I think one of the real benefits of being involved with Project Arrow is that it has driven the conversation about cybersecurity,” said Vehiqilla founder AJ Khan. “You go to an auto dealership and you don’t hear talk about cybersecurity. That discussion is critical.

Inago has teamed with several other firms, such as the GTA’s telematics hardware company Geotab and ABC Technologies, to create the cockpit of the Arrow. Inago president Ron DiCarlantonio said the Arrow is the first time his firm has physically collaborated on a project with another Canadian firm.

 “Much of our customer base are Japanese OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and Tier 1s,” DiCarlantonio said. “We didn’t have the connections with these Canadian companies. Now when a Japanese OEM is looking for something, I can say we can handle that because of our knowledge of Vehiqilla and Ettractive and the other partners on the Arrow.

 “I think that’s going to be one of the real benefits of the Arrow, the opportunities of collaboration.” DiCarlantonio said he showed the Arrow’s ‘Mutualism Platform’ cockpit to executives from Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. “They were shocked,” DiCarlantonio said. “It’s a gorgeous car that was put together in two years. That’s something they can’t do with their typical three to five-year cycles. “I got a lot of calls after that. We’re closing our first deal in Japan as a direct result of the Arrow right now.”

 In addition to being a showcase for Canadian capabilities in the EV sector, the APMA is also measuring the project’s success in its ability to generate new business for its members. Volpe said the target is to exceed $500 million in new business for APMA members. “The OEMs have been very appreciative of how much work and costs we’ve saved their design and procurement teams,” Volpe said. “They’re surprised and interested in the project. Its created a very positive buzz.”