Mobility reimagined

From the April 2023 print issue

It wasn’t the biggest auto show in Toronto’s history in terms of the number of cars or companies represented, but the first in-person Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) since 2020 was still a record-breaker in terms of attendance.

Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association president Flavio Volpe discusses the Project Arrow, a made-in-Canada concept car.

The show – on hiatus in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – saw about 350,000 attendees over 10 days in February. While some companies, such as the German brands, along with Ford, Mazda, and Honda, were absent this year, the show still featured 20 brands, a global debut, a North American debut, and a total of nine Canadian debuts.

Electric vehicles dominated the show, with over 75 all-electric vehicles and a 70,000sq-ft indoor EV test track and 19 vehicles for attendees to choose from.

“Despite three difficult years that have dramatically altered the automotive landscape, turned supply chains on their heads, and made new cars a hard commodity to find, I’m proud to say we’re back with a full-scale show with both new products, new technologies and a full-on, full-engagement experience for our show-going public for our 50th anniversary auto show,” said Michael Eatson, president of the Canadian International Auto Show, during opening remarks at a media day preceding the show’s opening. ‘Mobility reimagined’ is the theme of the 2023 show, and I think it’s fair to say that we’ve reimagined how the show looks and feels this year.”

The show featured new products and concept cars from OEMs, and the first live run for Camp Jeep in Canada, a 4×4 test track. There was also the Cobble Beach Classics presentation of 75 years of Porsche. The exhibit included
a 16-vehicle showcase.

The media day also highlighted Project Arrow, which debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January. The made-in-Canada concept car hit the Canadian stage for the first time at CIAS. The zero-emissions prototype is the first all-Canadian electric vehicle, and the 550hp prototype will go 500km before needing a charge.

Project Arrow is a level-3 autonomous vehicle and features an intelligent cockpit and seven layers of cybersecurity, said Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association president Flavio Volpe, while presenting the vehicle.

This year’s auto show saw about 350,000 attendees over 10 days.

“Safety, both of the occupant and the pedestrians, and of the data, is one of the things we designed right from the beginning,” Volpe said. “If nothing else, we raised the flag for Canada to say, ‘we can do this whole thing for you.’”

And the winners are…
Also at the media day, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) presented their picks for the Car of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year.

“The Canadian Car of the Year program had to adapt to many challenges over the past five years,” said Stephen Elmer, who presented the winners along with fellow AJAC journalist, Mathieu Thomassin. “But we stand here today, proud to be able to crown
a winner after another year of comprehensive testing taking place across Canada.”

The winning vehicle for the 2023 Canadian Car of the Year was the BMW i4, beating out runners up Mazda3 and the Hyundai Elantra N. The BMW i4 is an all-electric grand coup, which scored high in both its steering feel and its value. It was also named the best premium EV in Canada.

As for the Hyundai Elantra N, AJAC had named it the best sports performance car in Canada, and AJAC journalists pointed specifically to the passenger environment and the engine as two areas in which the car shines.

The Mazda3 was named Best Small Car in Canada for 2023, and AJAC journalists continue to rate
it high in both styling and quality.

As well, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 won 2023 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, with the Kia Telluride and Mitsubishi Outlander the runners up.