Four Ottawa students were inspired by the nation’s natural beauty and ideals to design what could become the world’s first all-Canadian zero-emission concept vehicle.
Kaj Hallgrimsson, Jun-Won Kim, Mina Morcos and Matthew Schuetz of the Carleton School of Industrial Design were announced as the winners of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association’s (APMA) Project Arrow design contest in October.
Their design — which the head of APMA, Flavio Volpe, described as “Tesla meets Fisker meets Land Rover meets Canada” — will be the basis of an all-Canadian showcase vehicle, now in the engineering phase.
“One of the things that drew me to the project was that it would be the first Canadian car,” Morcos said. “And one of the things we really had to think about was how to represent Canada with something physical, try to take those Canadian values and distill them into something we can all kind of identify with.”
The result is a crossover with a wide stance, striking headlights and an interior designed for maximum customization. From the side, the crossover’s design is notable for its use of horizontal lines, inspired by drives through the Ontario countryside.
“We all thought about things that we see,” Schuetz said. “And one of the things I distinctly always remember seeing — whether I’m driving up north, west, east or to and from Ottawa — all the highways are going through blasted bedrock. The rocks don’t necessarily seem like abstract shapes. There are a lot of horizontal lines.
“It’s almost like stacks, and they’re all cracking apart and shifting.”
The designers also drew inspiration from three Canadian values — freedom, stability and simplicity — as well as the shape of a polar bear, which is reflected in the vehicle appearing lighter upfront and heavier in the rear.
“We looked at those Canadian values and then those landscapes, and a lot of cars get inspired by animals to give their characteristics,” Kim said. “Which animal can represent some of the values [the group identified] and still relate to Canada? And we ended up with a polar bear.”
Ralph Gilles, Stellantis chief design officer, spoke with the student designers during the APMA’s virtual conference in November and heaped praise on the final design.
“I’ve seen a lot of talent in my time, and I think I’m qualified to say these students here are some of the most talented I’ve seen,” said Gilles, who led the panel of judges selecting the final design. “It’s hard to believe they’re students.”
FORMING THE TEAM