Completed Project Arrow EV crossover is a Canadian tech showcase


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We don't remember the last time we wrote about a brand new vehicle development program that delivered on its promises, on time. The Canucks, it seems, have done it. At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Canada's Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) announced it would build an all-electric vehicle to proclaim and parade the skills and technologies available from Canadian suppliers. The APMA pledged to show the car at CES 2023. In 2021, the APMA held a design contest, choosing a submission from four students at Carleton University's School of Industrial Design as winners. Canada's federal government and several state governments put in a combined $8.2 million. Then everyone got to work, the APMA partnering with 58 suppliers and the vehicle engineering facilities at Ontario Tech University. At this month's CES, association head Flavio Volpe pulled the covers off Project Arrow, declaring the success on time, under budget, and with 97% homegrown content.

We don't have exhaustive details on the crossover, but it is a fully working prototype. What we do know is there's an 82.5-kWh lithium-ion battery powering two motors that provide all-wheel drive. The estimated output is 550 horsepower, the race to 62 miles an hour projected to take 3.5 seconds. An estimated range figure is still being calculated, but around 500 kilometers (310 miles) is the rough math so far, aided in part by the solar-cell roof panel. And of course, among the smart cockpit and cybersecurity tech, there's Level 3 autonomy.

Project Arrow won't be put through crash testing, and there are no plans at the moment to build another one. However, since this is a showcase for parts suppliers who want to sell real parts to automakers, the crossover was engineered to meet Canada's safety regulations for road legality with commercially ready parts that can be built in quantity on an assembly line. Volpe said, "Anybody who is considering Canada for electric vehicle assembly, number one we have all the components here, and Project Arrow shows it to you without giving you theoretical BS. Number two, it says we have all the technical know-how and people required to do this successfully."

The most innovative piece is probably the 3D-printed composite chassis made by Xaba, a Toronto-based software, engineering, and robotics startup that emerged from stealth only last October. Xaba's Intelligent Machine spit out the chassis using specially constructed composites from Dartmouth-based Meta Materials. The technology used is called Nanoweb, supposedly capable of being used for "electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, deicing, defogging and a range of other automotive applications." Meta Materials won a CES 2023 innovation award for Nanoweb separate from Project Arrow. There had been mention before of a projected MSRP at scale being $60,000 Canadian, which comes out to about $45,000 U.S. We're not sure if that's still applicable. It would be pretty special if so.

Project Arrow is headed for a Canadian and U.S. roadshow this year, dropping in on our side of the border at the Detroit and Los Angeles Auto Shows, on top of visits to OEMs to demonstrate the tech involved. Sounds like Project Arrow has a long life ahead of it as well, Volpe saying he'd like to see the crossover updated with new versions as new technologies are ready for the market. We wouldn't be surprised at more models to come, either. The APMA worked with 50 suppliers, but 200 raised their hands. "In the end, we're building one car," Volpe said, "we probably could have built four."

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