Today, Invest WindsorEssex (IWE), the lead economic development organization for the Windsor-Essex region, announced the launch of Canada’s first Automobility Hub, a public-private partnership that aims to promote automotive innovation and collaboration.
The hub, which is based at St. Clair College, Windsor Campus, consists of the new Windsor, Ontario-based mobility solutions provider Automobility Enterprises (AE) and an academic branch, Automobility Research (AR).
Essentially an automobility accelerator, the Canadian Automobility Hub offers a suite of resources and services, including a ramp-up factory which will provide an all-in-one solution for industry and research to enable and support a network of innovative entrepreneurs and businesses interested in advancing the market for electric, zero-emission, connected, and automated vehicle technology and infrastructure, said Stephen MacKenzie, president and chief executive officer of IWE when announcing the initiative.
“Invest WindsorEssex is proud of the efforts to achieve this great milestone contributing to the necessary economic evolution of our region. We have brought together a cluster of innovative partners that are ready to collaborate to compete in the global marketplace as the Automobility Capital of Canada,” said MacKenzie.
Composition of the hub
Key partners in the hub include WindsorEssex, the City of Windsor, and the County of Essex, Automobility Enterprises (AE), and Automobility Research.
AE is a collaboration encompassing three organizations: German consulting and engineering services firm PEM Motion; automotive manufacturing and innovation firm Windsor Mold Group; and Ottawa-based Integris Software. It is focused on the development and manufacturing of innovative products to support the future of sustainable mobility. IWE says AE will support customers from concept to series production and assembly, locally in Windsor. Using a proven model, and technology partnerships and innovation from around the globe focused on fuel cells, battery technology, electric motors and propulsion technologies, AE offers electric vehicle (EV) services and solutions across several applications and markets, with a focus on commercial vehicles.
AR is composed of St. Clair College and the University of Windsor, both of which will provide the critical bridge between industry and the research needed to establish an automobility ecosystem and ramp-up factory. St. Clair College is the location of the AR branch of the hub. This will provide students and graduates from the college with a destination to apply their technical expertise to advance software and engineering technology for modern mobility manufacturing in Windsor-Essex, said Patricia France, president of St. Clair College.
“The University of Windsor continues to support opportunities to leverage our unique assets to ensure that public and private partners have access to the expertise they need to help diversify and strengthen the economy of the Windsor-Essex region,” said University of Windsor president and vice-chancellor Robert Gordon. “By leveraging these assets and fostering a strong ecosystem of innovation in Windsor-Essex, as well as expanded opportunities for research and development collaboration we are well-positioned to support the transformation of our local economy from the Automotive Capital of Canada to the Automobility Capital of Canada.”
Resources and services offered
The Canadian Automobility Hub contains all the machinery and resources necessary to manufacture mobility prototypes. This includes, but is not limited to, a CNC bending machine, additive manufacturing solutions, laser welding, mechanical workshop, framing station, and small assembly line, as well as machines to produce and test battery prototypes and drive trains. Having all these machines and tools creates an opportunity for cost-efficient prototyping and testing of pre-series for electric vehicles using the knowledge and support of participating partners, IWE explained.
During today’s announcement, representatives from Automobility Enterprises demonstrated an electric e-commerce delivery van built by a subsidiary of German multinational package delivery and supply chain management company Deutsche Post. The electric van is part of one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the world and has been in use for parcel delivery in Germany for over seven years. This model can be a great fit for Canadian utility and delivery fleets in the future as they make the transition to electric vehicles, according to IWE.
IWE says it has created the Canadian Automobility Hub to work with regional ecosystem partners, including all levels of government, local post-secondary institutions, program service providers and businesses, as well as bi-national private sector partners, to support and promote entrepreneurship and innovation in automobility. The economic development organization also noted that the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) has helped it start catalyzing the growth of an automobility cluster. FedDev Ontario provided an investment of $7.5 million to IWE to support 1,350 entrepreneurs and attract $40 million in foreign direct investment in the region. This funding is in addition to an initial $5 million FedDev Ontario investment announced in September 2019.