How Canadian Companies Developed an All-New EV Crossover

By Gary S. Vasilash

Each year there are some two million vehicles and $35-billion in auto parts produced in Canada. The country has several top-notch facilities, both in terms of companies that produce things and universities that develop things of an automotive nature.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a plan for a zero-emissions future by 2050. So the Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association (APMA), being aware of that plan, decided that it would do its part by developing an electric vehicle. A vehicle that is designed and engineered in Canada and is fully assembled using parts, systems and technologies from Canadian suppliers, 58 in all.

Project Arrow: An EV developed by a team organized by the Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association. It’s all-Canadian. (Image: Project Arrow)

Named “Project Arrow” (a tribute to a supersonic jet development program that occurred in Canada in the 1950s), the $20-million (CN), the crossover was designed by the Carleton University School of Industrial Design, engineered by an APMA-led team, and the running prototype was built at Ontario Tech University.

The Project Arrow vehicle had its debut at the 2023 CES in Las Vegas earlier this month.

According to APMA president Flavio Volpe the Project Arrow vehicle had a massively successful reveal. He said that the focus going forward is that if an OEM is interested in taking the crossover to production, it will be as Canadian as it is now (this wouldn’t be the case of, “Quite a crossover. We’ll build it in ________________ (not Canada) with parts from suppliers in _______________ (not Canada).” This won’t happen.)

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Volpe provides insights into the vehicle that has a 500-km (a.k.a., 310-mile) range, and 550 hp from its dual-motor setup. The price would be less than $60,000.

One interesting thing that Volpe points out is that the Lexus RX is produced in Cambridge, Ontario, and that that vehicle was one that the Project Arrow team benchmarked.

Volpe talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, freelance writer John Voelcker and me.

Watch this “Autoline After Hours” right here.


By Gary S. Vasilash

The CES show, which is produced by the Consumer Technology Association, was once an event that when by the non-acronymic moniker: Consumer Electronics Show.

That seemed to be somewhat limiting, so the official name was changed to just the three letters.

One could argue that it worked out fairly well because now CES is what some say the best auto show running.

At the recent 2023 CES there were some 3,200 exhibitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center at nearly 10% of the total were in the Vehicle Technology category, with everything from suppliers of sensors to well-known OEMs like VW to want-to-be-known ones like Sony Honda Mobility.

Clever, color-changing camo for the VW ID.7, a vehicle shown at the 2023 CES. (Image: Volkswagen)

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Chris Thomas, former chief technology officer at BorgWarner who is now an industry consultant and Paul Eisenstein, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Detroit Bureau, join “Autoline’s” John McElroy and me to talk about what they saw at CES. (The other three were there. I wasn’t.)

The conversation ranges from small radar sensors that could be deployed in vehicle interiors to determine what’s on a given seat and under the hood to determine the level of washer fluid (they are both small and economical) to the BMW concept car that features an exterior material that allows the selection of 32 different colors and combinations thereof—when you want them.

The consensus of the group is that technology is what is driving changes in the auto industry and CES is the correct venue for the exhibition of that technology. (It should also be noted that the CEOs of BMW and Stellantis made keynote addresses; the show also has a conference element to it.)

While there continues to be some doubt about the prospect of traditional auto shows going beyond the function of showing the consumers the latest in vehicles that they can also see at their local dealers, going back to the function of providing a look at what could be, it seems that there is no question about the viability of CES providing the latter function in a very big way.

You can see the show here.

Building Cars Is Hard

By Gary S. Vasilash

On September 18, 2021, this announcement was made by Rory Harvey, vice president, Global Cadillac:

“Today, reservations for the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ Debut Edition sold out in just over ten minutes and we continue to see a lot of enthusiasm around the brand – both current product and in our all-electric future. The initial response for LYRIQ has been extraordinary. Since the show car unveiling last year, more than 200,000 people have expressed interest in learning more about the vehicle and our electric future.”

Deliveries of the electric SUV, which had obtained significant, deserved acclaim, began in July 2022.

The Cadillac LYRIQ: an impressive electric SUV that more people would undoubtedly like to be behind the wheel of. . .except production is rather limited. (Image: GM)

The LYRIQ is built in the GM assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The factory originally built for Saturn. At the plant the Cadillac XT5, Cadillac XT6 and GMC Acadia are also produced.

LYRIQ went into production on March 21, 2022.

So keep in mind: production starts in March, deliveries start in July, and thousands of people wanted to get behind the wheel of Cadillac’s first electric vehicle.

Now admittedly all OEMs in 2022 had to deal with all manner of issues related to COVID and chips and supply chain snafus.

But here is something that is simply startling:

GM announced its U.S. deliveries for 2022.

All in, 2,274,088 vehicles, making it #1 in the U.S.

Cadillac LYRIQ: 122 vehicles.

How many of those LYRIQ “hand wavers” are going to put down their arms and go across the street to an Audi or Mercedes store?

And what about those who were part of the 10-minute sellout? How are they feeling about their decision?

Yes, building vehicles is hard.

But you would imagine that for a vehicle that is as important to Cadillac as the LYRIQ is, that would have been addressed and any speedbumps mitigated.

(Incidentally: while the LYRIQ was the vehicle with the fewest deliveries among all GM vehicles for 2022, the second lowest was another electric vehicle that sold out in 10 minutes when its reservations opened in October 2020 and is now said to be sold out for at least two years: the HUMMER EV. GM delivered 854 in all of 2022.)

Sony Honda Mobility: Huh?

By Gary S. Vasilash

That Sony and Honda announced last fall that they were forming Sony Honda Mobility was certainly curious. Perhaps Sony execs felt a compulsion to get into automotive because its long-time rival Panasonic has been supplying electric vehicle batteries for the past several years, and it wanted to get into the vehicle space, as well.

And as for Honda—well, given that it is a comparatively small OEM, it needs to establish partnerships where it can, so having already signed up with GM, going with Sony is probably considered to be a useful thing for no other reason than the electronics manufacturer has lots of tech, and that’s certainly useful to an OEM.

AFEELA prototype: yes, a sedan. (Image: Sony Honda Mobility)

SHM revealed the name of its new brand, AFEELA, and a prototype vehicle to accompany it. While there are some who criticize the name, odds are people looked askance at “Trinitron” back in 1968 and “Acura” in 1986.

But here’s a curious thing about it:

The company says that it aims “to create a new mobility lifestyle by leading people’s hearts and minds towards an open, pleasant and exciting experience. To realize this, we aim to revolutionize the mobility space as a Mobility Tech Company, alongside like-minded people who are pioneering a new future with creativity, through cutting-edge technology, and with passion.”

And it introduced a car.

Somehow the goals and the delivery mechanism seem rather disconnected.

A car.

Some Surprising Toyota Numbers

By Gary S. Vasilash

One thing that is occurring is that OEMs are decreasing the number of types of vehicles that they have on offer.

Consider, for example, Ford.

If you want a “car,” then you’d better be happy with a Mustang because that’s all that’s available.

It has gone from arguably a “full-line” manufacturer to a SUV/truck manufacturer.

And it is doing well in that truck category, as the company announced that the F-Series is the best-selling truck in the U.S. for 46 years running, and that it sold more than 640,000 trucks in 2022 (this isn’t just the F-150 but the F-550 chassis cab, so it is a mix of personal and commercial vehicles).

Toyota RAV4 (Image: Toyota)

Toyota is a full-line manufacturer, as it builds cars, trucks and utes.

And while it might seem as though this spreading might cause some dilution of vehicle sales (i.e., with a range to chose from, a consumer might pick a car rather than a ute or a truck rather than a car, thereby diminishing the overall sales for a given vehicle), when it added up its 2022 U.S. sales it had some impressive numbers:

  • The Camry is the best-selling passenger car for 21 years running
  • The Tacoma is the number-one small pickup and has been for the past 18 years
  • The RAV4 is now the best-selling SUV for seven years in a row

While some might think that the car segment isn’t all that interesting, know that it sold 295,201 Camrys in 2022.

It also sold 222,216 Corollas (the number-one selling compact in the U.S.)

And there are other cars on offer: Supra, GR86, Mirai, Avalon, and Prius.

The Tacoma clearly is a truck with legs. There were 237,323 sold in 2022. A point of comparison would be the combined number of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon: 117,016.

The RAV4 run is perhaps the most impressive of all. While Ford and GM can legitimately argue—as can the Stellantis Jeep brand—that they have deep, deep SUV know-how and capability, the RAV4, of which 399,941 were sold in 2022, just keeps leading the list.

Seems that offering a full line can have some advantages for the OEMs’ sales and the customers’ choice.

Why Would Apple Bother?

By Gary S. Vasilash

The 23rd KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey—some 900 execs in 30 countries surveyed—includes an array of findings that should be of startling interest to OEMs, particularly those vehicle manufacturers that are, as they sometimes say, “all in” on electric vehicles.

For example, in the 2021 survey the execs predicted that by 2030 EVs would be 52% of the U.S. market.

A year later that number is down to 29%.

Quite a tumble.

Remember: these are execs in the auto industry, people whose livelihoods depend on how vehicle sales play out.

(Do some of those people look at that 29 and think about the billions being invested in EV assembly plants and battery facilities?)

Another question was about what companies would be market leaders in electric vehicles by 2030.

The top three are Tesla, Audi and BMW.

The fourth is somewhat of a surprise: Apple.

While the rumors of an Apple entry into auto have been rife for a number of years, the question as to why the company would want to get into what is a low-return space should squelch said rumors.

Vehicle manufacturers aren’t doing particularly well from a Wall Street valuation point of view.

Here is a list published today by CNBC of the performance of OEMs over the past year:

  • Ferrari (RACE): -18%
  • Stellantis (STLA): -25%
  • Toyota (TM): -26%
  • Nissan (NSANY): -35%
  • General Motors (GM): -43%
  • VW (VWAGY): -46%
  • Ford (F): -46%
  • Fisker (FSR): -57%
  • Tesla (TSLA): -68%
  • Nio (NIO): -68%
  • Lordstown (RIDE): -69%
  • Nikola (NKLA): -75%
  • Rivian (RIVN): -82%
  • Lucid (LCID): -83%
  • Canoo (GOEV): -86%

Yes, every single one of those companies with a minus sign in front of two digits.

Even Used Car Sales Smacked in the Side of the Head

By Gary S. Vasilash

This is the sort of thing that can cause someone—employee, investor—to gulp when they read it in relation to a company’s Q3 financials:

“We have taken deliberate steps to support our business for both the near-term and the long-term. We are managing our business prudently, and prioritizing initiatives that reduce costs, unlock operating efficiencies, profitably grow market share and create better experiences for our associates and customers.”

That’s Bill Nash, president and chief executive officer of CarMax, the largest retailer of used vehicles in the U.S.

He went on: “As the market leader, we have spent almost thirty years building a diversified business that can profitably navigate the ups and downs of the used car industry. We believe we are well positioned to effectively manage through this cycle.”

When someone notes they’ve been in this for decades and will consequently be able to handle what is occurring now, it is clear that it is tough.

In the case of CarMax, compared to Q3 last year:

  • Net revenues down 23.7%
  • Total retail used units sold down 20.8%
  • Total wholesale units sold down 36.7%

And so on.

While it is fairly well known that there is an affordability problem in the new vehicle sales business, CarMax notes that vehicle affordability—as well as inflation, increasing interest rates and low consumer confidence—are having a negative impact on its business, as well.

Things may be improving. But probably not as quickly as buyers and sellers would like.

The EV Market May Not Be What Some Think It Will Be

By Gary S. Vasilash

There must be—and certainly ought to be—some consternation this week at GM HQ.

International consulting and accounting firm KPMG came out with its 23rd Global Automotive Executive Survey, with responses from execs in and related to the auto industry. More than 900 of them from 30 countries.

When asked to rank the companies they think will have a leadership position in electric vehicles by 2030, it went like this:

  1. Tesla
  2. Audi
  3. BMW
  4. Apple
  5. Ford
  6. Honda
  7. BYD
  8. Hyundai-Kia
  9. Mercedes
  10. Toyota
  11. Baidu
  12. Fisker

Look what’s not on the list. And I don’t mean VW, though that is absent, too.

Yes, Apple is on the list. It was last year, too. Then it was in 8th position. Clearly there are more than a few people in the industry that see something that many of us don’t (i.e., Why should Apple bother getting into a low-margin industry? It is unlikely that it could get considerably more in the way of subscription monies than it already has.)

There is another somewhat troubling survey results across the board.

On the question of what percentage of the market battery electric vehicles will have in 2030:

  • U.S.:             29%
  • China:          24%
  • Europe:        24%

While there is some evident optimism regarding the potential uptake of EVs in the U.S., 29% surely isn’t the 50% that is regularly bandied about by domestic OEMs.

And while some may think the 29% average is satisfactory, the median may give them more joy: 35%.

Until they find out that the median number for the percentage of EVs in the U.S. market by 2030 in last year’s KPMG survey was 65%

Toyota’s Approach to Environmentally Appropriate Vehicles

By Gary S. Vasilash

There is an on-going criticism of Toyota that it is behind other OEMs when it comes to electric vehicles.

Which is true if the companies in comparison are Ford and GM.

At present, Toyota has one full battery electric vehicle, the bZ4X. It also has one hydrogen-powered electric vehicle—generally referred to as a “fuel cell electric vehicle” or “FCEV”—the Mirai.

At present there are no Lexus electric vehicles, battery or otherwise.

The EPA has recently published “The 2022 EPA Automotive Trends Report.” It examines greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

In the report it shows that from 2016 to 2021, the miles per gallon for the aggregate of vehicles produced by the following companies are:

  • Ford:                      22.8 to 22.9 mpg
  • GM:                       22.4 to 21.6 mpg
  • Stellantis:               21.5 to 21.3 mpg

In other words, Ford improved by 0.1 mpg while GM and Stellantis both went in the wrong direction.

Similarly, the CO2 measures are:

  • Ford:                       389 to 385 grams per mile
  • GM:                        397 to 414 grams per mile
  • Stellantis:               413 to 417 grams per mile

In the case of CO2 measures, less is better. Ford got a bit better. The other two didn’t.

Stellantis presently has no full battery electric vehicles. It does have plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of the Pacifica, Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

Ford has battery electrics. The F-150 Lightning, the Mustang Mach-E and the E-Transit. It also has hybrid versions of the Escape, Maverick, F-150, and Explorer. Lincoln offers hybrid versions of the Aviator and the Corsair but no battery electrics.

GM has the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, Cadillac LYRIQ and HUMMER EV battery electric vehicles at present and no hybrids.

So how does Toyota measure on the EPA metrics?

  • Toyota:                    25.0 to 27.1 mpg


  • Toyota:                    355 to 327 grams per mile

Or simply put, in the aggregate, the vehicles that the company put out in the market between 2016 and 2021 are, from an environmental standpoint, better than the vehicles from the other three manufacturers.

And it is worth noting that in 2021 Toyota, with sales of 2.3-million vehicles, was the top manufacturer in the U.S. GM sold 2.2 million, Ford 1.9 million and Stellantis 1.8 million.

It didn’t have the bZ4X last year, so that doesn’t count in its numbers. It did have the Mirai, but the number of those it sells could pretty much fit in the parking lot of a large stadium.

But what it does have are the Prius and Venza and hybrid versions of the Corolla, Camry, Avalon, Sienna, Highlander, Sequoia, RAV4, Tundra, and Lexus ES, UX, NX, RX, LS, and LC.

It could be argued that those vehicles contributed a lot to the “greener” performance of Toyota compared with Ford, GM and Stellantis.

It could also be argued that especially compared with Ford and GM Toyota is some sort of Luddite when it comes to green powertrain technology. . .yet the EPA figures don’t indicate that what it is putting on the road is in any way behind the curve.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” we are joined by Jordan Choby, vice president of Powertrain Control at Toyota Motor North America R&D. He joins us from the Toyota Gardena, California campus where fuel cell development is occurring.

Choby explains that, yes, Toyota is working on battery electric vehicles and it plans to have 30% of its global volume be electric vehicles by 2030, but that the company is operating on model that is providing consumer choice regarding the type of engine or motor that is under the hood of their vehicle.

Choby talks with “Autoline’s” John McElory, Tom Murphy of Autoweek, and me.

And you can see the show here.

Your Polestar 3 Is Watching You

By Gary S. Vasilash

Polestar essentially spun out of Volvo, and if there is one thing that Volvo is associated with is safety. And that came along for the proverbial ride to Polestar.

To that end, Polestar has announced the Polestar 3 EV SUV will be equipped with “two closed-loop premium driver monitoring cameras” and associated software.

The gear is coming from a company named “SmartEye,” which characterizes itself as “the global leader in Human Insight AI, technology that supports and predicts human behaviour in complex environments.”

Or in this case, the Polestar 3.

Polestar 3 (Image: Polestar)

The cameras will track the driver’s head, eye and eyelid movements. Should it appear that the driver is distracted or becoming sleepy, the system detects the situation and then sounds an alert or possibly actives an emergency stop function.

The Polestar 3 has an NVIDIA-based centralized computer that performs the processing for that as well as other driver-assistance systems. Which basically means it is smart.

Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO, says, “This technology addresses some of the main reasons behind fatal accidents and can help save lives by prompting the driver to refocus attention on the road – and can initiate preventive action when they don’t, or can’t.”

While this is undoubtedly laudable technology, it does seem somewhat strange to think that your car is keeping an eye on you.