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Montreal auto show rolls out the latest batch of vehicles

BY Prem Lee Prasannan Mar 16, 2024

The Palais des Congrès de Montréal hosted the 79th edition of the Montreal International Auto Show January 19-28. This massive complex featured cars on display on three levels, with several big brands showcasing their latest concepts and production-ready vehicles to the public. 

This year, Tesla brought most of its electric vehicles to the show. The Cybertruck, a futuristic full-size electric pickup, captured the attention of many visitors. With a stainless-steel exoskeleton that reduces dents, damage and corrosion, Tesla claims this durable vehicle can go anywhere, helped by an adjustable air suspension with a clearance up to 17 inches. The base rear-wheel-drive model costs around $77,000, while the top-tier Cyberbeast model costs about $130,000. Although the precise release dates are still unknown, pre-orders are being accepted.

VinFast, a Vietnamese automaker, displayed their all-electric cars during the event. The company currently operates in BC, Ontario and Quebec. Although the electric VF Wild is still only a concept, it already indicates Vinfast’s orientation for future models. This midsize pickup offers an eight-foot maximum storage area, a fold-down wall, and a ton of goodies. It may be an attempt to compete in the all-electric truck market with Tesla.

The compact, two-door electric Vinfast VF 3 is a somewhat larger version of the basic Smart car that can accommodate narrow parking spaces and streets. This might replace your typical city car with a 200-km range on a single charge.

Vinfast VF 8 production model sales are progressing along with the big players. With a 425-km range and a 15.6-inch touch screen that can be fully customized, this car gives you access to Smart Services for managing your home or place of business. In addition, it has a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting and vegan leather seats. The standard model costs about $56,000.

Toyota displayed most of its top-tier cars. For the past 10 years, Tacoma has been a part of the mid-size pickup truck market in Canada. With a powerful 465 lb.-ft. of torque and up to 326hp, the all-new i-Force Max hybrid is a sight to behold. This robust truck is built on the TNGA-F global truck platform and shares it with the Tundra, Sequoia and Land Cruiser.

The new 2025 Camry comes with a hybrid powertrain and has a bolder look than its predecessor. This 2.5L 4-cylinder engine works with two electric motors and a battery. Combined, it delivers a decent output of 22hp with the front wheel (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) options.

The completely off-road capable Lexus GX550, which competes in the premium market, is made to seem like a modern muscle SUV while maintaining the iconic Lexus aesthetic. At the exhibit, guests could experience all the comforts and cutting-edge technologies of this luxurious SUV firsthand. The potent 3.5L V6 twin-turbo engine produces an outstanding 8,000 lbs (about 3,628.74 kg) of towing capacity in addition to an amazing 349hp.

The Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid GT-Premium S-AWC comes with a twin-motor PHEV system combined with a 2.4L gas engine, giving a combined total range of 687km. The base GT model starts at $58,198. The new Nissan Ariya is a 100% electric crossover with a maximum electric range of 490km when fully charged. This $55,835 compact SUV can deliver 389 hp and can hit 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds.

Among the Korean cars, the new Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid with the H-shaped headlights is more spacious than the previous version and will certainly stand out on the road. The boxy design and the straight body lines resemble the Land Rover Defender. Customers can choose either the hybrid electric or plug-in hybrid based on their driving preferences. Autonomous driving technology with its Highway Driving Assist 2.0, which utilizes sensors and map data to provide Level 2 autonomous driving, automatic braking and acceleration, as well as overtaking cars in front of you when the system is activated.

The Kia EV9 is the next level of innovation in Kia’s electric lineup after the launch of the smaller EV6 in 2021. The EV9 embraces the full capability of an SUV in enhanced EV packaging. The bold and futuristic exterior design and the spacious interior give customers a renewed riding experience when driving off-road or on city streets. It also comes with a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lb. (2,267 kg) when properly equipped. EV9’s Digital Pattern Lighting Grille, and now your phone can be used as the secure key that unlocks the doors and starts the vehicle, a feature that will be of great convenience. The car has a driving range of approximately 450km, and the base model is priced at $63,167. In the below-$40,000 range, Kia lined up the Forte, Seltos, Sportage and Sorento with gas variant options.

From the North American fleet, GM group dominated the pavilion with Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac and Buick models. The huge GMC Hummer EV pickup did not go unnoticed. It boasts up to 571km of electric range on a full charge. This truck can deliver a whopping 1,000 hp and 11,500 LB-FT of torque and can hit 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h). When you are behind the steering wheel, the look and feel of every gadget, including the 13.4-inch diagonal infotainment system, gives a solid truck feel while handling it. This high-end electric truck base version starts at $134,224.

Cadillac Escalade IQ is currently in the preproduction stage, and it is built on GM’s Ultium electric architecture loaded with modern tech. GM claims that when using a 350 kw DC fast charger at a public station for 10 minutes, this full-size electric SUV can drive up to 160km. This beast offers three rows of seats to comfortably accommodate up to seven passengers. It has a 200-kWh battery, can give a maximum driving range of up to 724km, and produces 750hp and 785 lb.-ft. of torque.

Buick unveiled its 2024 Envista in the compact SUV category. It only has the gas model and comes with a decent host of tech in it. The features include an UltraWide 11″ diagonal information screen, advanced safety and driver assistance features, and active noise cancellation inside the cabin. It seats up to five and has an estimated highway mileage of 7.4L/100 km. The pricing below $30,000 will attract customers concerned about rising oil prices and inflation.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally SUV got a special spot among the Ford lineup. The vibrant yellow paint and black stripes on the front hood gave it a distinct appearance in the crowd. This performance SUV claims to have a range above 350km when fully charged.

Among the top-end luxury sports brands, this year Luc Poirier exhibited their top-end 31 Ferraris, starting from the model year 1967 to 2023, at the show. The most expensive was their first hybrid vehicle, the Ferrari Aperta. This limited-edition car is powered by a 6.3-litre V12 engine and an electric motor, producing a combined power output of 949hp. It can hit a maximum speed of around 349 km/h with a list price of $7.7 million.

The orange-coloured McLaren’s 570S coupe with butterfly doors looked very aerodynamic, had a twin-turbo V8 engine, and incorporated race-driven technologies. It can hit 0-100 km in 3.2 seconds. The listed price ranged from $199,960 to the high-end GT trim at $324,605.

Overall, this year’s show was more energized with renewed enthusiasm in the market since the Covid pandemic two years ago. Given that Canada has announced plans to phase out gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035, it is quite likely that the new rules will make it difficult for gasoline or diesel-powered passenger vehicles to enter the Canadian market soon.

The industry seems to be focussed on carbon-neutral clean energy technology. The Toyota Mirai, the Hyundai Nexo and the Honda Clarity were all designed and produced to run on hydrogen fuel. Certainly, there are hiccups in improving the technology and installing fuel networks across the country. It seems major companies are still researching and refining ideas and working with policymakers to develop alternate fuel options other than the currently poised battery technology, which promises sustainable and environmentally friendly growth. Only time can tell.

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Prem Lee Prasannan has a passion for green technology. He has been a freelance writer since 2011 with a special focus on electric vehicles. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and currently works at Air Canada.