Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 8

OPINION

8

02.18

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Transformation of Canada's
auto industry hit its stride
Organizers say that car shows need to keep up with the
times, and that means fostering an environment for industry
discussions. The Automotive News Canada Congress
returns this month. ( F I L E P H O T O )

How auto shows
became real work
JEFF MELNYCHUK

|

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

I'M NOT SURE WHEN IT HAPPENED, EXACTLY, BUT THE EVIDENCE
is all over the inside of my laptop-camera-bag combo. Not because
of what's there, but because of what isn't.
As I write this column, I'm packing for the Canadian
International AutoShow (CIAS) in Toronto (Feb. 16-25). Suits?
Check. Laptop? Check. Business cards? Check. Meeting schedule? Check. Camera gear? Nope.
I recall one auto show not that many years ago where my camera gear nearly outweighed my checked baggage, and the big challenge was getting a clear line of sight to take vehicle shots on the
show floor. The meandering masses are
a real pain, after all.
'Auto shows'
To me, the shows were always about
the cars, whether a carryover produchave morphed into
model or an off-the-hook concept
gatherings of industry tion
with wings and a Flux Capacitor for
professionals tuning power.
Like grey hair taking root, the
in to other industry
change
was slow and subtle. Auto
professional and
shows apparently needed to keep up
sharing ideas
with the times, which is often code for
having side gigs that have nothing to
do with the vehicles. Not things like a dunk tank or vendors selling
belt buckles or candy apples, but meetings. Lots of meetings to
discuss important things, as it turns out. At this year's show, for
example, the new Automotive Intelligence Series is, well, a series
of ongoing panel discussions featuring people such as industry
executives, automaker CEOs and educators. Important stuff,
indeed.
At last year's CIAS, I barely managed a quick walkaround, let
alone snapping gigabytes of photos. I was simply too busy (gasp)
working at our own side gig called the Automotive News Canada
Congress. No shiny paint, no carbon fibre, no sweet-smelling leather and no sparkling alloy wheels wrapped in low-profile rubber. Just
chairs, a stage and, yes, people the likes of GM's Steve Carlisle,
Magna International's Don Walker and Unifor's Jerry Diaz. We
planned the event again this year, for Thursday, Feb. 15.
Rather than lugging around camera gear and learning about
new cars and their features, I'm now fortunate enough to be
immersed in larger discussions with industry leaders on interesting,
pressing and topical issues such as NAFTA and the hunt for engineers for a high-tech industry that's blossoming in Canada.
I guess work isn't so bad after all. Auto shows are indeed
changing with the times. And the luggage is lighter, too. - ANC

EST. 1925.

PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
KEITH E. CRAIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
K.C. CRAIN, GROUP PUBLISHER
JASON STEIN, PUBLISHER

DAVE VERSICAL, DIRECTOR OF EDITORIAL OPERATIONS, AUTOMOTIVE NEWS GROUP

PUBLISHED MONTHLY BY CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

NEWS DEPARTMENT

JEFF MELNYCHUK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, 506.854.5024, JMelnychuk@autonews.com
DAVE GUILFORD, MANAGING EDITOR, 313.446.0321, Dguilford@crain.com

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Email: customerservicecanada@autonews.com

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Karen Rentschler, 313.446.6031
Email: Krentschler@crain.com

FOR CANADIANS WHO THINK
the auto industry isn't what it
used to be - whatever that is
in their minds - they should
think again. It might not look
like your father's auto industry,
but it's just as relevant today as
it was 20 or 30 years ago.
Canadian automotive took
centre stage on several occasions at the North American
International Auto Show in
Detroit in January. Technology,
not manufacturing, was the
focus.
Canada's "car czar" Ray
Tanguay - the automotive
adviser to the Canadian and
Ontario governments - was the
show's first speaker. A man who
grew up on a Northern Ontario
dairy farm kicked off a week's
worth of auto presentations in
the Motor City, the place that
put wheels under the world.
Tanguay was quick to note
that Ontario is the second-largest information-technology
region in North America, and
that the provincial government
has a goal to graduate 1,000
people a year with applied masters degrees in artificial intelligence. He also said the province wants to increase the
number of STEM grads (an
acronym for science, technology, engineering and math) to
50,000 from 40,000. All in an

DIGITAL AND
MOBILE EDITOR
AUTOMOTIVE
NEWS CANADA

GREG
LAYSON

COMMENT
effort to live up to the standard
set by the University of Toronto
professor Geoffrey Hinton, widely regarded as the godfather of
artificial intelligence.
It's becoming obvious:
Assembling cars in Canada is so
yesterday. Autonomy, advanced
radar and cybersecurity are the
future of Canada's automotive
industry.
Tanguay said 170 companies
in Ontario are developing artificial intelligence, a key to autonomous vehicles. He also said
Google, Apple, Uber, Magna
and others invested more than
$1 billion in artificial-intelligence
research in Ontario in 2017.
Vehicles still need to be
assembled, but there's no
denying that robots are coming
and low-cost regions such as
Mexico are making it difficult for
Ontario to be competitive when
it comes to vehicle production.
So, the Canadian auto
industry - much like the
once-beleaguered BlackBerry -

is reinventing itself. And you
need not look further than that
former smartphone maker from
Waterloo, Ont., to see that a
successful transition to tech is
possible.
BlackBerry cybersecurity
products are used by 40 automakers and is in 60 million
vehicles. It has 60 per cent of
the automotive-cybersecurity
market. The auto industry has
noticed the role BlackBerry
plays and the company made
its first appearance at the
Detroit show. It unveiled what it
calls a transformational product,
named Jarvis, which has the
ability to scan all software components in a vehicle within minutes to predict and fix vulnerabilities. A trial run with Jaguar
Land Rover finished in seven
minutes a task that normally
takes a person 30 days.
And on Jan. 23, as we
reported at automotivenews.ca,
Toyota became third automaker
to pick RapidResponse -
Ottawa-made software - to
manage its global supply chain.
"We're betting on innovation," Minister of Innovation,
Science and Economic
Development Navdeep Bains
told reporters at the Detroit
show.
It's looking like a safe bet.

- ANC

Small pickups present a gamble
SOMETIME AROUND 2002, I WAS PART OF
pilloried in commercials that involved dropping
a group of journalists that General Motors allowed
concrete blocks and tool boxes into an F-150 bed
into a "war room" dedicated to environmental
and showing the resulting gouges to "real peoissues. A pie chart on the wall caught my eye; it
ple."
showed the profit generated by GM's vehicle platSo expect more ads belittling aluminum trucks.
forms. What was striking was that the full-size
But remember, the attacks haven't dented Ford's
truck platform accounted for
sales leadership.
roughly half of total profits.
The second skirmish will begin
MANAGING
At the time, I was new on the
when
Ford puts the Ranger midEDITOR
GM beat. That chart gave me an
size pickup into showrooms early
instant education.
in 2019. Currently, GM is the
DAVE
Flashy performance cars at big GUILFORD
only Detroit company in the segauto shows impress onlookers.
ment with the GMC Canyon and
So do proclamations about the
Chevy Colorado. The Toyota
imminence of autonomous vehiTacoma, Nissan Frontier and
COMMENT
cles.
Honda Ridgeline also are availBut trucks are where the profable, but it's likely that Ford's
its are.
main target will be the GM duo.
With that in mind, keep an eye on two clashes
The Jeep Wrangler-based pickup due in 2019
set to play out in the truck market.
will be a high-end "lifestyle" truck, FCA CEO
The first is
Sergio Marchionne has said. Interestingly, Fiat
the continuing
Chrysler is still on the fence about bringing back a
split over use of
more workmanlike Ram midsize pickup.
aluminum in
That might be because slotting a smaller pickpickups. Ford
up into a lineup below a full-size truck is tricky. If
took a bold
automakers equip the smaller vehicle with
step in 2014
weight-saving materials and fuel-economy techwhen it
nology, that might also push the price too close
Ford's profits rest on the
switched
the
to that of a base-level big truck. Some buyers will
shoulders of the F-150, but
body
of
its
just take the big truck.
the Ranger could undermine
F-150 to alumiBut if pricey fuel-economy features are omitthat. Why chance it?
num
from
steel.
ted,
the smaller truck's savings at the pump
(PHOTO: FORD)
Ford executed
might be lessened or negated altogether, and fuel
this incredibly involved design-and-manufacturing
economy is a selling point for fleet buyers.
challenge without losing sales leadership.
And if an automaker gets both things right,
But in January, GM and Fiat Chrysler stuck
and if the key specs (towing, payload) are good
with steel bodies for the full-size pickups they
enough, that still could cannibalize sales of its big
showed at the North American International Auto
truck.
Show in Detroit. At the Chevrolet Silverado debut,
But the automakers that navigate those potGM product chief Mark Reuss made a point of
holes successfully get the reward: More of those
knocking aluminum pickup beds, which GM has
sweet truck profits. - ANC


http://www.automotivenews.ca

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2

Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - CT1
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - CT2
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 1
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 2
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 3
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 4
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 5
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 6
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 7
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 8
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 9
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 10
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 11
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 12
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 13
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 14
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 15
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 16
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 17
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 18
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 19
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 20
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 21
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 22
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 23
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 24
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 25
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 26
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 27
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 28
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 29
Automotive News Canada - February 2018 - v2 - 30
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