Someone who builds world-famous luxury sports cars should hardly want for excitement.
But Fraser Dunn, chief engineer at England’s Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., was looking for a fresh challenge. It came in the form of an unlikely offer from Canada.
In August, Dunn takes over as chief engineer for Project Arrow, launched last year by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) to showcase the capabilities of Canada’s auto sector.
After initial skepticism, Dunn seized the opportunity to create a vehicle that would be engineered for future production.
“One of the nice things about this project is, to be quite frank, there isn’t any kind of hidden agendas other than can we build a really good car that has got a Canadian narrative,” he said in an interview from his home in Stratfordupon-Avon, northwest of London.
The objective, Dunn said, is to create something that people will think is cool and would buy. And it should “be a credible competitor with certain American and German brands.”
MOVING ON FROM SUPERCARS
Dunn, 42, has spent his entire career at Aston Martin, in 19 years rising from a university internship to chief engineer at the luxury and performance carmaker.
It was while working on Aston Martin’s Valkyrie hypercar project, led by Formula One engineer Adrian Newey, that Dunn met Marcello Grassi, a materials specialist whose resume includes work with supercar maker McLaren.
He and Grassi became friends. Grassi now chairs the advisory board of Project Arrow, whose name echoes Canada’s groundbreaking but doomed Avro Arrow jet fighter of the 1950s.
“He kind of sounded me out on it,” Dunn said. “To begin with, I thought, I don’t know, it wasn’t expected, it was sort of left field.”
Dunn’s time at Aston Martin has been interspersed with stints working on special projects such as the Williams-Jaguar C-X75, the Alset hydrogen-powered race car and stunt cars for the latest James Bond film. The idea of another megabuck supercar faded, and Project Arrow’s vision intrigued him.
“One of the things that’s becoming quite apparent in the automotive environment is that everyone needs to start taking the environmental responsibility seriously,” he said.
Project Arrow’s goal is to develop a relatively affordable zero-emission battery-electric concept vehicle capable of volume production. It’s scheduled to debut digitally this year and in the metal form in 2022, followed by a tour of industry events.
“If you were then to take this to production, you would need at least another two years,” Dunn said.
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