Virtual reality driving simulation inside the Windsor-Essex Virtual Reality CAVE
Virtual reality driving simulation inside the Windsor-Essex Virtual Reality CAVE

The Windsor-Essex region in Ontario—known for excellence in automotive technology and R&D—is leading the way in EV development

Welcome to Invest Ontario’s regional spotlight series showcasing diverse municipalities across our province. We highlight a unique region and what makes it special from a business and lifestyle standpoint. As always, it will be in their own words. Here’s the next in our lineup from our friends in Windsor, Ontario.

Welcome to Windsor-Essex

Invest WindsorEssex

The Windsor-Essex region is situated at the heart of the richest consumer market in the world, with more than 200 million people located within a 13-hour drive. Windsor-Essex is directly linked to the busiest commercial Canada–U.S. border crossing, handling approximately a third of all Canada–U.S. trade of nearly C$1 billion daily. Our prime location, quality of life, great economic prospects and highly skilled workforce make it an easy decision when considering an ideal place to start or expand your business.

A leader in connected, autonomous and electric vehicles

Windsor-Essex has a rich 100-year history in the development and production of the automobile. The region is now looking toward future trends of the automotive industry, including the development and production of connected, autonomous and electric vehicles.

The Windsor-Essex region is bolstering its automobility cluster. The Government of Canada continues to make investments to support this initiative in high-tech development, research and innovation. Since 2019, FedDev Ontario has invested $12.5 million in the region to stimulate a next-generation automobility cluster and establish Canada’s first world-class automobility accelerator.

FedDev Ontario’s investment will also leverage an additional $12.3 million in private-sector and other matching funding and attract $40 million in new foreign direct investment to the region.

Furthermore, the Windsor-Essex region is emerging as a North American leader in low carbon and zero-emission transportation. In 2020, the Canada Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act was introduced. The act delivers on the Government of Canada’s commitment to legislate Canada’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Each target will be based on the best scientific information and reflect Canada’s international climate-change commitments.

Our region is not only adopting the electric vehicle infrastructure to support the plan’s targets—both Stellantis and Ford have committed to investing billions into their Windsor operations to build electric vehicles, including manufacturing Hybrid Pacifica Minivans.

As a proud partner of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), Windsor-Essex hosts a Regional Technology Development Site, focusing on cross-border technologies and cybersecurity. The program has provided a strong foundation for the automobility activities currently underway in the region. The recent provincial announcement that Ontario and Michigan are partnering to advance automotive, transportation and mobility border technologies further positions Windsor-Essex as a prime location for emerging technology companies in the automobility space to access support and resources and test various prototypes.

Canada’s largest publicly accessible virtual reality CAVE

Inside the Windsor-Essex Virtual Reality CAVE
Photo inside the Windsor-Essex Virtual Reality CAVE

We are also home to Canada’s largest publicly accessible virtual reality, CAVE. Thanks to support from AVIN, the Windsor-Essex Virtual Reality CAVE is an immersive and virtual reality environment. The facility serves as a teaching, training and research tool designed to support connected and autonomous vehicle development.

Virtual reality provides many opportunities to aid in product development, including simulation, skills training and collaboration. Virtual prototyping allows processes to be tested before final verification with physical prototypes is performed.

Invest WindsorEssex is proud to be recognized by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) as the Official Virtual Reality Simulation Partner for Project Arrow. Project Arrow is a collaborative effort involving several key players in the nation’s automotive supply sector and post-secondary institutions to create an electric-drive, alternative-fuel, autonomous concept vehicle.

The conceptual design for Project Arrow was brought to life using the advanced capabilities of the Invest WindsorEssex VR CAVE. The VR CAVE will also be instrumental in the next phase, where virtual prototyping will be an integral part of the engineering process.

Information and communications technologies

The fast-growing information and communications technologies (ICT) sector in Windsor-Essex is helping the region diversify its economy. Many companies in the industry are putting down roots in Windsor-Essex, helping the sector grow at a rate faster than the overall economy.

With more than 5,000 people working in ICT across 250 businesses in the region, taking advantage of more than 2,000 km of fibre optic cable, the region is quickly becoming well-known for ICT in Ontario and beyond.

Progressive research and development

The Stellantis Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC), Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing and the Ford Powertrain Engineering Research and Development Centre (PERDC) are global leaders conducting electric vehicle research and development in Windsor-Essex.

The Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE Labs) is an internationally recognized R&D facility located at the University of Windsor that fosters cross-disciplinary research collaboration among materials, mechanical, electrical and software engineers.

Further strategic research opportunities at the University of Windsor include:

  • Autonomous mobile robots and systems
  • Cybersecurity
  • Internet of Vehicles (IoV)
  • Sensor communication and fusion
  • Simulation emulation and test beds
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle for autonomous vehicles

Furthermore, The Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing, located at St. Clair College’s Windsor campus, delivers high-quality training in engineering and manufacturing technology. This teaching facility gives students training using some of the world’s most sophisticated technology. The facility includes 5-axis CNC machines, plastic injection moulding machines, wire cut EDM and rapid prototyping machines.

See you soon, future Windsorite!

Windsor Waterfront
Windsor Waterfront

Now is the perfect time to be part of the automobility capital of Canada, Windsor-Essex. Whether you are gearing up to start a new business or growing your company, Windsor-Essex has the right resources so you can be successful.

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