At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in Las Vegas (January 5-8), the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), a Canadian trade organization, will officially debut Project Arrow: an electric vehicle (EV) featuring a chassis made with additive manufacturing (AM). According to a comment to the green tech website CleanTechnica from Xaba, a Toronto-based advanced manufacturing technology company that designed the printer used for the chassis, Project Arrow is “the first car to be made from all-Canadian intellectual property [IP]”.
In fact, the APMA says that only one of the parts was even made outside of Canada, a screen produced by Beijing’s Lenovo, the world’s largest PC vendor, in a partnership with Ontario Tech University. For its part, Xaba worked with Italian machine manufacturer Breton SpA to develop the Xaba Intelligent Machine, an AI-controlled polymer platform used to 3D print the chassis for Project Arrow.
The APMA only began working on the electric SUV in the summer of 2020, when it kicked off Project Arrow with a design competition. Over 500 companies originally expressed interest in participating, and almost 60 of those companies are now part of the team behind the car. Among all the other “firsts” it represents, APMA is also billing Project Arrow as the first car with “complete supply chain transparency”.
In that sense, the SUV’s design lends itself perfectly to end-to-end decentralized manufacturing, as is presumably the point. Thus, a buildup of AM infrastructure would allow the Arrow to be manufactured on the ground by any supplier possessing the necessary hardware and a license to the IP.
That is an especially important consideration in a country like Canada, which is developing a strict mandate requiring that by 2026, 20 percent of vehicles sold nationwide must be electric, with a goal of 100 percent by 2035. These sales mandates already exist in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec.
Additionally, facilitation of decentralized manufacturing for EVs, in particular, is an equally important consideration for all of Canada’s largest trade partners and military allies, especially the US and the EU. This conveys the importance of Project Arrow not just for the purposes of cooperation, but for competition, as well. Towards the end of 2022, policymakers from Canada and the EU expressed serious concerns about the Inflation Reduction Act, specifically regarding the threat the bill poses to the electrification efforts of the Canadian and European economies.
Project Arrow, then, can be taken as a deliberately clear message that Canada has entered the EV fray. The Canadian 3D printing sector is behind the sectors in other similar economies, but Project Arrow is exactly the type of organizing principle that could catalyze the growth of 3D printing in Canada to new heights.
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