Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Windsor-Essex has a rich history in the development and production of the automobile for more than 100 years. Known as the birthplace of Canada’s automotive industry and home to Canada’s largest auto cluster, the region is now looking toward future trends in the automotive industry, including the development and production of connected, autonomous and electric vehicles.

This will require the creation of new technologies and the collaboration of private industry, government and universities to deliver and adopt these future systems of mobility. Windsor-Essex is strategically located near the decision-making and technology centre of the global automotive industry.

Our area has the talent, research and development assets to contribute to this mobility revolution. Our post-secondary institutions and private industries regularly work together to innovate in the automobility space.

Industry profile and sector expertise

More than 90 automobile and parts manufacturers call Windsor-Essex home, including two original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). We also play host to the Canadian headquarters for Stellantis Canada (formerly FCA Canada).

Learn about Invest WindsorEssex’s partnership with the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, a collaborative initiative to bridge Ontario’s automotive and technology industry strengths to shape and drive the future of the automotive and mobility sector.

Leader in electric vehicle production

The Windsor-Essex region is a North American leader in low-carbon and zero-emission transportation. In 2020, the Canada Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act was introduced. The act delivers on the Government of Canada’s commitment to legislate Canada’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Each target will be based on the best available scientific information and reflect Canada’s international climate-change commitments.

Our region is not only adopting the electric vehicle infrastructure to support the plan’s targets, but Stellantis Canada’s Windsor Assembly plant is manufacturing Hybrid Pacifica Minivans to meet the demand.

Our region is also home to the EV Society Windsor-Essex, an active community of nearly 150 owners of plug-in vehicles throughout the region. They run member meetups and public electric vehicle (EV) awareness events throughout the year and support local businesses and municipalities by encouraging EV infrastructure.

Leaders in research and development

The University of Windsor/Fiat Chrysler Canada Research and Development Centre (ARDC), Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing and the Ford Powertrain Engineering Research and Development Centre (PERDC) are global leaders conducting electric vehicle research and development (R&D) in Windsor-Essex.

The Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE Labs) is an internationally recognized R&D, component and system design and test centre that fosters cross-disciplinary research collaboration among materials, mechanical, electrical and software engineers.

Further strategic research opportunities at the University of Windsor include:

  • Autonomous mobile robots and systems
  • Cybersecurity
  • Internet of Vehicles (IoV)
  • Sensor communication and sensor fusion
  • Simulation emulation and testbeds
  • Vehicle to vehicle (V2V) for autonomous vehicles

Education and training opportunities

Windsor-Essex is home to multiple integrated post-secondary programs and training courses that teach and train the next generation of industry leaders in world-class research and development institutions. Learn more about the University of Windsor’s renowned automotive engineering school, its automotive research and development centre (jointly operated by the university and Stellantis) and other industry programs and facilities.

Locational advantage

Windsor-Essex is located within 257 km (160 miles) of six automotive OEM headquarters and a cluster of automotive R&D centres. Receive easy access to Michigan’s autonomous vehicle testing sites, including the 135 ha (335 acre) American Center for Mobility (ACM) test site.  Michigan Central is the innovation hub at the center of that future. This is the place where Ford, its partners and competitors will create the products and solutions that will be the future of how we move. Testing new technology on real-world streets, within a dynamic urban community, to pave the way for more connected, autonomous and electrified future.

Contributors to Google’s self-driving car project

Stellantis (formally FCA) became Waymo’s first OEM partner in 2016. Since then, the two companies have worked closely to integrate the Waymo Driver into Stellantis vehicles, and have made self-driving history in the proven, capable, L4-ready Windsor-built Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. This has proven to be a game changer for moving commuters and families in a safe and eco-friendly manner.