From VR caves to fine wine, here’s how Windsor-Essex is showcased at the NAIAS


Despite the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opening to the public this weekend, Windsor-Essex’s business investment leaders are already there – showcasing the region to executives from industry and automotive enthusiasts.

“We are showing that not only can we build the next generation of vehicles, but we can be at the forefront of battery technology development,” said Ed Dawson, senior director of automotive and innovation. at Invest Windsor Essex.

Dawson is among those representing Windsor-Essex at Detroit’s annual auto showcase, which was limited to media and auto industry insiders this week.

This year’s NAIAS – which will be open to the general public on Saturday and will run until September 25 – focuses on the transition to electrification this year.

According to Dawson, the role of Invest Windsor Essex, along with representatives from Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, is to educate automotive and technology companies at the show about all the area has to offer.

“We’re here to really talk about the many great things we have on our side of the border, whether it’s our vineyards or all the great food and tourism we have,” Dawson says, adding that the pitch makes mention of the town. waterfront and close to Detroit.

But according to Dawson, there are qualities unique to Windsor-Essex that make the area perfect for a company to test or design its products.

For starters, the area is home to the largest publicly accessible virtual reality cave in Canada.

The VR Cave, located inside Invest Windsor Essex’s Automotive Innovation Center on Wheeldon Drive, is currently used to assist with product development, simulation testing and professional training.

In April, Invest Windsor Essex unveiled how the VR cave could be used to simulate how an autonomous – driverless – vehicle would pass through customs at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

“Let us help develop your model. Let’s help develop the technology. Let’s perform these simulation tests safely for you. Let’s help take your product to the next level,” says Dawson.

Among those also representing Windsor-Essex at NAIAS 2022 is WEtech Alliance. CEO Yvonne Pilon says she had her eyes set on start-ups.

“It’s so energizing to see all these new technologies…Especially in mobility, companies are looking for testing. They’re looking for a new market to test,” she explains, adding that Detroit has an ecosystem of “great” start-ups.

For Pilon, the Windsor-Essex discourse begins by talking about the region’s fundamental focus on electrification and how post-secondary students are embracing this change.

Inside the University of Windsor’s Engineering Building, the Center for Hybrid Automotive and Green Energy Research (CHARGE) lab allows students to research, develop and design vehicle powertrains electrical.

“It’s about getting the word out about the Windsor-Essex ecosystem, whenever it’s talent and research coming out of our institutions, the entrepreneur support organizations, the 5 electric vehicle battery plant billions of dollars or just our city as a whole,” says Pilon.

She adds, “I think there are a lot of opportunities, with Canada being a leader in this space, for start-ups to grow in the Canadian market.


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