Canada's auto suppliers showcase connected crossover

The 2014 Lexus RX350 crossover manufactured in Ontario, and donated by Toyota Motor Canada, features production-ready software from 13 companies with operations in the province.

WINDSOR, Ontario -- Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, aiming to spotlight the country’s supplier community and technology capabilities, unveiled an advanced connected vehicle Wednesday at its annual conference in Windsor, Ontario.

The concept -- a 2014 Lexus RX350 crossover manufactured in Ontario and donated by Toyota Motor Canada -- features production-ready software from 13 companies with operations in the province.

The on-board technology featured in the concept includes hand gesture recognition, an alcohol sensor, and a fleet communication system.

The RX350 is also equipped with adjustable LED lighting, side and rearview cameras that can provide a 360 degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings, driver analytics, and a wireless device charger.

APMA partnered with Ottawa-based software maker QNX, which already works with Tier-1 suppliers and automakers, and the University of Waterloo to create an operating platform to showcase the vehicle’s technology.

It’s being billed as a “mobile incubator of evolving connected vehicle technologies” for “faster data delivery, interactivity and safety,” the association says.

“We have a huge amount of strength in Canada,” APMA President Steve Rodgers said at the unveiling.

QNX engineer Alexandre James said the various software in the car could be obtained by automakers individually but could also function in connection with the other featured technology.

Rodgers said after the event that the main goal of the connected car is to secure business for Ontario suppliers and create manufacturing and engineering jobs in Canada.

In 2012, Canada’s automotive parts shipments totaled over 24 billion Canadian dollars. The country’s auto parts producers employ over 80,000 people today.

Rodgers added that along with connected-car technologies, APMA plans to develop a self-driving vehicle.

“Down the road, as we look forward, we’d like to continue to evolve toward doing an autonomous vehicle,” Rodgers said.

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