Project Arrow unveiled for suppliers, key partners in tightly guarded event

Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association President Flavio Volpe and key members of the Project Arrow team have begun pulling back the curtain on the trade association’s three-year project to build an all-Canadian electric-vehicle prototype.

Suppliers and key partners got a first look at the fully assembled concept crossover SUV at a tightly guarded event at Pfaff Autoworks in Markham, Ont., Dec. 20. Approximately 80 attendees were required to relinquish their phones or subject their cameras to being taped over to be allowed a walkaround of the new four-seat vehicle before its public debut at CES in Las Vegas Jan. 5.

The drivable prototype is designed to “tell the Canadian story,” as well as drum up new business for Canadian suppliers as the auto industry transitions to electric and autonomous vehicles, Volpe said.

“I think what this does is it demonstrates physically to people that even though there hasn’t been a Canadian car company in 100 years, it’s not because we don’t have the technological know-how, or we don’t have the people who can do it. I hope this inspires a bit of a Silicon Valley start-up culture,” he told Automotive News Canada at the event.


The vehicle features components from nearly 60 Canadian suppliers, from Quebec wheel manufacturer Fastco Canada, to battery supplier VoltaXplore, a joint venture between Martinrea International Inc. and graphene company NanoXplore. A suite of software companies, such as software bill of materials provider Cybeats Technologies Inc. are also among those represented on the Arrow, which is designed as the first vehicle with “complete supply chain transparency.”

The several dozen suppliers to see their products on the final concept vehicle come from a pool of 534 companies that originally expressed their interest in participating in Project Arrow. Volpe said the APMA qualified 230 of the original list as capable of delivering, but the trade association could not include them all.

“We had, you know, half a dozen bidders on the wheels. We have one set of wheels. And we had 12 bidders that said that they can give us a battery solution [but only one battery].”

Every component on the Arrow is Canadian made, with one exception.

“Through our due diligence, we found out that no one makes screens in Canada. So, the screen supplier is Lenovo, but the technology that’s in the screen is a partnership with Ontario Tech University.”

Ontario Tech was also the lead academic partner for Project Arrow, with much of the assembly process taking place at its Oshawa, Ont. campus.


Volpe said the Arrow will remain at Pfaff Autoworks for a few days of final validation before the finished prototype is shipped to Las Vegas.

“There’s still work that needs to be done in the next few days before we get it out there, which is essentially making sure that the systems run 100 per cent of the time.”

Project Arrow will debut at CES on Jan. 5, but that is just the first stop on a planned world tour for the Canadian concept vehicle.

“CES is the beginning,” Volpe said. “This is going to be on a two-year tour — auto shows, tech demonstration centres, but also direct visits to OEMs.”

With the Arrow giving the innovative components and software a platform, Volpe said he wants to see “every one of these companies to get business directly from this showcase.”

While this is the main goal of Project Arrow, Volpe has said throughout the process that the APMA has fielded calls from unnamed automotive players interested in taking the concept into production. Volpe admits it would require a backer with “deep pockets,” but is not ruling out building more than one Arrow.

“If someone makes a bet on it, and that is a sustainable bet, we’d work with them.”

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