Canadian Innovation
in the Auto Sector:
Flavio Volpe and Project Arrow

TORONTO – Since Flavio Volpe became its President, the Automobile Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) has been churning out newsworthy items on a regular basis. Corriere Canadese interviewed him after yet another story about Canada’s preparedness to sustain, and compete in, the Automobile Manufacturing sector appeared in Friday’s Star.

Professional envy aside, Friday’s piece in the Toronto Star suggests the APMA is ready “to roll” with Canada’s own Electric Vehicle (EV) before the end of this calendar year. Is this true or are we getting ahead of ourselves?
“Enthusiasm and an innate desire on the part of all can sometimes make events appear closer than sound, careful planning dictates. We have been putting together the indispensable ingredients to build a “made in Canada” EV – and we are approaching the final stages. I admit it is exciting”.

Regarding the Project Arrow, the Premier is quoted as saying he wants you to “build it here”. Is he talking about you going to production by the end of the year?
“First, the Premier has been supportive of everything we at the APMA have been doing and proposing. From his perspective, given transportation, infrastructure and access to market conditions, why would any eventual assembler company go anywhere else? We concur. Our supplier/ members are looking for sales opportunities. More sales usually increases the chances of labour market growth. That is desirable from an economic and political viewpoint. But no, we are not going to production by December 2022. What we are doing is launching a “show car” to explore the opportunities for our suppliers”.

Canada has not had a “domestic”, designed and produced, automobile since the famous Auto Pact with the USA made the “Canada designed, engineered and built” untenable. How are you proposing to get over that hump?
“Precisely with the quality design and engineering team that we have assembled to date, headed, I might add, by some of the finest internationally recognized professionals who, by the way, believe that Canada has all the necessary elements to compete in the EV market. My job, and leadership, is to also provide the sustainable ‘theoretical volume and price design guidance’. That is what I have been doing. Our launch in December will give our suppliers and potential consumers a chance to match their enthusiasm and expectations with the reality of the next steps. A chance to see a prototype and ‘kick the tires’, so to speak.

Where do you think you are in that paradigm so far? And do you think you really can compete with the likes of Mazda and GM who are also going after the same market?
“Absolutely, otherwise we would not be in this space. That is why the ‘theoretical volume and price design guidance’ we laid out for the Premier (and frankly to other government players) is so exciting. The industry sector, with all due respect to other sectoral players, is the most productive from a return on investment and in terms of the multiplier effect. Every job on the assembly line generates another seven upstream and downstream combined. Imagine the jobs impact – not to mention the environmental one – if it were all accomplished here. That is why the Premier is so gung-ho! He is not alone”.

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