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Engineering Firm ABB Eyeing A $90 Million R&D Center In Montreal

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【Summary】Swiss engineering firm ABB announced plans to manufacture a $90 million R&D center in Montreal, Canada that will help create technology for future electric cars.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 28, 2017 9:10 AM PT
Engineering Firm ABB Eyeing A $90 Million R&D Center In Montreal

North America is in the middle of an arms race when it comes to automotive technology. Automakers, manufacturers, and technology companies are scrambling to be among the first to introduce new tech for the next wave of vehicles, which include autonomous cars that run off of electricity. With President Donald Trump introducing a tariff on products made in Mexico, companies are looking north as the prime location to set up shop. 

Big Facility, Big Goals

ABB is a Fortune 500 company that supplies assembly line products, including robots, to automakers in the US and Canada. The engineering firm is now looking to Montreal, Canada for the location of a $90-million R&D center. At the new facility, Canadians will help manufacture technology that will be used in the next generation of electric vehicles, reports Automotive News

In a statement, ABB stated that it would not receive any assistance from the government for its North American Centre for Excellence in e-Mobility. The center, according to spokesman Markus Gamper will develop "many solutions that make sense for urban transportation and the needed charging infrastructure, including possible alliances with [electric vehicles] car manufacturers."  

The new headquarters, which will open later this year, will employ 700 jobs and help the company merge its manufacturing, research and development, assembly, and testing facilities under one roof. In addition to working on technology for future electric cars, ABB will also use the facility for e-Mobility purposes. This will include developing energy-management solutions for electrified methods of public transport – trains and buses. 

Currently, ABB, as pointed out by Automotive News, maintains and builds fast-charging stations for electric vehicles on highways. The company also constructs fast-charging stations at dealerships and commercial locations. The Swedish company is known for its specialty in energy storage systems and fast-charging infrastructure for urban and regional transit. 

With ABB's expertise in transit, the company will use the facility to look for "feasible solutions to accompany city and municipal energy design and needs," stated Gamper. 

Companies Are Moving North

The idea of opening the facility in Canada was an easy one for ABB. According to Ulrich Spiesshofer, President and Chief Executive Officer for ABB, Canada has the proper elements for future technology to be made. "With its excellent universities and associated ecosystem, Canada provides all the right ingredients for research and development needed to develop global technology platforms," stated Spiesshofer. 

ABB isn't the first company to announce a major facility in Canada. Late last year, BlackBerry, which is mostly known for its smartphones, announced that it would move forward with an autonomous driving program in Ontario. But instead of starting from scratch, the company would invest over $75 million into its BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Center (AVIC). And instead of making software for self-driving cars, BlackBerry will focus on the foundational platform and framework. 

Apple also has a facility in Ottawa, where it is working on developing a platform that can be used by multiple vehicles. Canada, then, is becoming a central location for tech companies to develop technology for future vehicles.

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