2023 Canadian International AutoShow returns to Toronto [Feb 17-23, 2023]

This article comes to us from Dan from Northern Tesla, who attended the Canadian International AutoShow on behalf of Drive Tesla. You can check out his YouTube channel here or find him on Twitter here.

It’s 2023, and the Canadian International AutoShow is back at the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto after a 2-year hiatus.  Running from February 17th to the 26th, car enthusiasts can check out the latest and greatest in the automotive world. I had the chance to check out the media preview – and of course went straight for the EV’s.

The first thing that caught my eye at the Auto Show was what actually wasn’t there. There were no representation from Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo or Honda. Those are some big companies without a single vehicle to show. I’m not sure the reason for their absence, but it was noticeable. Other EV specific companies such as Lucid and Rivian were also absent.  As such, I found this year’s show smaller than previous iterations. The folks that were there sure did make up for it! Let’s get into the electrified highlights of the show.

One of the EV highlights was the indoor test track where you can test a variety of EV’s. I was able to drive the VinFast VF8 and the Cadillac LYRIQ EV. Other vehicles available for the test drive are the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia EV6, Nissan ARIYA, Subaru Solterra, Lexus NX, the Toyota RAV4, and b74X.  To be fair, it is hard to judge a vehicle based on a 2 min lap on an indoor track going below 30 kmph. I did find a very big difference in terms of handling between the VinFast and Cadillac, however a lot of those variances can be attributed to software settings. The attendant that goes along with you for the ride, albeit very knowledgeable with each vehicle, wasn’t familiar with those kinds of intricate details.

One of the highlights with the vehicle displays, and biggest surprises, was the huge presence from VinFast.  Most North Americans may not be familiar with this Vietnamese company but they have been producing cars since 2017and are the best selling car in Vietnam.  They have now transitioned to fully electric models and are looking to make a splash in the North American market. On display were the VF8 crossover and the larger third row seater VF9.  They also displayed their upcoming models, the subcompact crossover VF6 and compact crossover VF7.   All of their models have a very stylish look both inside and out.  The interior felt luxurious with leather wrapped panels present throughout the cabin as well as a large Tesla inspired center screen.  Speaking of Tesla inspiration, I found VinFast to be the only manufacturer to really embody the minimalistic feel.   One thing I noted with the VinFast interior is the gear selectors which is a row of large, incongruous buttons running alongside the cup holders of the center console area – I wasn’t a fan. It seemed counterintuitive to the whole minimalistic look.  Overall, though the VinFast surprisingly offered one of the better interiors of the show.

Another highlight of the show was the Hyundai N Vision 74 which is more DeLorean like than the actual DeLorean.  With its straight angular lines reminiscent of the original 1980 DMC classic.  This is what the new DeLorean Alpha 5 should have looked like.

When attending the auto show you get to see all the smaller start-ups that you’ll never see otherwise. One of those are the AMPA Project Arrow, led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association.  It is an all Canadian built and designed electric vehicle concept.  A design competition was held among several Canadian universities which speaks to the talent among young Canadian engineers.  All parts in the supply chain are also Canadian making the entire Arrow Project solely Canadian.  Even the name takes inspiration from the historic Avro Arrow, for those of you old enough to remember that infamous aircraft.

Another small Canadian start-up is Potential Motors out of New Brunswick.  They are at the Auto Show with their unique electric motorhome.  This rugged beast is geared toward the adventure camping crowd who want to go off-roading but still camp in luxury.  The vehicle features a thin chassis ideal for narrow trails.   It also features oversized rugged tires, a full-sized double bed (which folds away when not in use), a complete pull-out kitchenette, 40 liters of onboard water storage, roof storage, and huge gull wing side doors which make Tesla’s Model X look almost miniature.  Range sits at a paltry 160 km, but it’s considered a recreational vehicle so you’ll most likely be towing this thing and then driving it the last little bit.   The initial purchase price of the first 100 units is set at a whopping $136,000 USD, which is hard to justify for a recreational vehicle but I love the concept.

Without the likes of electric front runners like Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes Benz the Auto Show’s EV spotlight went to the overseas manufactures.  Hyundai’s IONIQ 5, the Kia EV6 and the Nissan ARIYA are all market tested and did not disappoint. All three vehicles have a stunning design and contemporary and forward-thinking interior. All feature simple yet elegant screens flowing from behind the wheel to the middle of the dash.  I was particularly fond of the IONIQ 5 as the screen tied in nicely to the rest of the interior and stayed consistent with the futuristic style.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the North American entries.  To me they still feel like traditional cars with buttons upon buttons.  One standout was the Cadillac Lyriq, which has a more simplified design and trending center screen option. However, they still had this huge floating center console which was a nice armrest but is a weird choice of space in my opinion.

I found a big gap in the displays in regards to trucks. The pickup segment was supposed to be the next big thing in EV’s and the only one to be found was the concept Chevrolet Silverado EV.  Since it was a concept, I wasn’t allowed to touch or go in it, but I can tell you it looked like a classic Silverado, which most truck lovers love.  There was of course the Hummer EV but no one is going to buy that, so let’s move on.  Missing from the show was the new electric RAM and of course Ford wasn’t there to show off their F150 Lightning.  And no – no Cybertrucks (other than a Hot Wheels version).

Tesla of course has a small presence showcasing their SEXY lineup with the Model 3 and Y as well the plaid version of the Model S and X.  Tesla representatives were not present, but the cars had a lot of interest. A crowd gathered with both puzzlement and glee when the Model X showed off its dancing skills with a Tesla patented Light Show.

Overall, I was impressed with show and quality of automobiles. Electrification is now at the top of everyone’s list which is a great thing to see.  If you’re in Toronto, go out and check out the Canadian International Auto Show, you’ll see the latest and greatest in electric vehicle progress. The EV future is exciting.

The 2023 Canadian International AutoShow runs until February 26 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. You can buy tickets here, where you can save up to 10% instead of buying tickets at the door.

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