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SME Universe | Velomtek’s essential head-to-tail



Vélomtek is about to put the tires in the United States. The intention is all the more surprising given that the manufacturer of electric-assisted streamlined tricycles barely touches the Canadian market.

To tell the truth, the fact that the company is still running is already a feat to be credited to its founding president François Garneau.

The engineer began designing his own velomobile in the mid-2010s, in the garage of his residence in Beloeil.

Velomobiles, a contraction of bike And automotive, are seated tricycles, closed by a bodywork and driven by the force of the calf, which calf is most often assisted by an electric motor. Especially popular in Europe, they usually take the form of a 1950s Formula 1 that would have swallowed its wheels.

François Garneau founded Vélomtek in 2016 to complete the development of his small vehicle and launch production.


When the SME Innovation section of The Press dedicated an article to him, in October 2019, the entrepreneur had just sold a first velomobile to an Ottawa resident.

“This model, I made a total of five, including the first which was a prototype and three others which were sold to customers”, he says three and a half years later.

The Vélomtek velomobile initially showed a steering wheel at the front and two wheels at the rear. He has since spun.

Conversely, the new VT1 model has two steering wheels at the front and an electrically assisted wheel at the rear.

This turnaround was a matter of survival. Not that of the pilot, but that of the company.

His initial model had attracted attention at the fairs and shows where François Garneau had presented it, but “between curiosity and order taking, there is often a significant gap”, he notes. Its European competitors placed two wheels at the front. “I said to myself, ‘Okay, I’ll start developing a new concept and I’ll see what the point is.’ »

Subscribers to his newsletter have confirmed to him that they would be more inclined to purchase a velomobile with this configuration.

However, it required an almost complete overhaul of its vehicle. The first streamlined and functional prototype was completed in the summer of 2021.

“In the fall of 2021, the business was still in my home, and to go further, I had to move into something bigger,” he says. And better equipped. »

It was then that he met a business partner who was “an investor, an accountant”, but above all a “velomobile lover, because he owns one”.

Everything came together: he left his job at the end of 2021 to devote himself entirely to his business and he found a 4,500 sq.⁠2 in the industrial park of Beloeil.

The hiring of two full-time people and another part-time allowed him to complete the assembly of a pre-production model during the summer of 2022.

Composite material body parts are molded, cut and painted in the Vélomtek factory. The machining and welding of metal parts are carried out by local subcontractors.

The first production model was delivered in November to a Quebec City customer, who fitted studded tires to it for winter testing. Another has just been delivered to Vancouver.

Videos on its website and on Facebook have attracted new subscribers to its newsletter, both in Canada and the United States.

“At the end of 2022, we had a lot of interest from the American side, and we said: we are going to prepare to sell our products in the United States. »

It completes all the necessary regulatory procedures.

“With spring approaching, we want to do a little promotion blitz. »

In particular, it is necessary to make the principle better known.

A vehicle of the future

The VT1 consists of a carbon fiber shell, rigid and light, inside which is fixed a welded aluminum frame. It accommodates the two-lever steering, the pedals, the seat, the drive system, and at the rear, the electric wheel motor and its battery.

Access is via a lift-up hood, on which an integral canopy can be installed which allows driving in bad weather.


Access is via a lift-up hood, on which an integral canopy can be installed which allows driving in bad weather.

Categorized as a bicycle, it can travel along public roads and on cycle paths.

“Of course, you can drive at speeds of 40 or 50 km/h, but it is primarily designed to be ergonomic, functional and safe for more urban travel,” explains François Garneau.

Its battery provides a range of nearly 120 kilometers and costs about 10 cents to recharge, he argues.

Its price is not within the reach of all budgets, he acknowledges, but it compares favorably to that of European competitors. “Delivered to the customer’s door, we’re talking about $13,000 to $15,000. We offer a solution that can be around $11,000 or $12,000. »

It is a vehicle of the future, he maintains, at a time of greenhouse gas reduction and sustainable development. “We believe that we are in an emerging sector, and the other advantage is that we are the only ones in Canada to do that. »

But the road is not free of bumps: he must refine manufacturing methods, find new employees, and fill an order book that would allow him to increase the production rate to one vehicle every two weeks.

With the new configuration, “we are very confident that we have a product that will be more sought after,” he says.

“If the Canadian market is a little slow to arrive, the Americans will perhaps take the place first. That’s kind of how we see things. »

The next commands will give him the impetus to start: “It’s to start the wheel. »

All three, in fact.

4 + 4 equals 8 x 8

No, 8 x 8 is not 64. This is the new Fat Truck 8X8, an all-terrain vehicle with eight (very big) wheels which Zeal Motor has just launched production.

The Bromont company manufactures amphibious vehicles with closed cabins equipped with four-wheel drive, each almost as high as a man, for remote operations in difficult terrain.

They are used, for example, to inspect power lines or oil pipelines.


Zeal Motor’s new 8X8 Fat Truck is an off-road amphibious vehicle that combines an enclosed cab tractor and trailer.

His latest addition associates this tractor with a trailer equipped with the same train of four tires, the addition of one and the other giving the multiplication mentioned in the introduction.

The trailer is offered in two models, a closed cabin for transporting 16 workers and a platform for equipment or machinery.

“Only the Fat Truck has the advantage of traveling at more than 40 km/h on land, 5 km/h on water and climbing muddy slopes of more than 75% while meeting the highest safety standards. “, argued in a press release Amine Khimjee, vice president of sales and marketing of Zeal Motor.

Based on the Fat Truck, two autonomous military vehicles have been developed in partnership with Rheinmetall Canada. Trials with one of these vehicles will be carried out shortly with NATO troops in northern Finland.

Zeal Motor is currently able to produce two vehicles per week, the company said by email. The construction of a new plant in Cowansville will be completed shortly. Investments for these projects total $7.5 million.


Dave Welsh and Véronique Girard, co-founders of Défi-Évasion

Défi-Évasion pierces the border

Défi-Évasion wants to cross the border.

The Quebec company specializing in escape games and puzzles is launching a new company called MindOpus, a way to disguise yourself to better take to the field.

The company will distribute online puzzle games created by Défi-Évasion in English Canada and the United States.

Founded eight years ago, Défi-Évasion first specialized in indoor escape games. Mobile versions with trailers soon followed. The company now has 50 employees.

The pandemic has forced Défi-Évasion to use all its resourcefulness to escape confinement. She created an online puzzle game platform on which 50 intellectual challenges have been created since 2022.

It is these games, and the next ones, that will be offered in English Canada and the United States by MindOpus.

To meet its invasion challenge, Défi-Évasion called on a team of translators, the agency Effet Monstre for the web component and the Business Development Bank of Canada for strategic support.

The name MindOpus is an enigma in itself: it is the contraction of “mind”, spirit, and “octopus”, octopus, because of its memory and its intelligence. And perhaps also sprawling Challenge-Evasion projects.


The president of Algolux, Allan Benchetrit, and that of Torc Robotics,
Peter Vaughan Schmidt

Algolux acquired by a subsidiary of Daimler Truck

We had not come to come. Quebec-based Algolux, an expert in computer vision and machine learning, is acquired by Torc Robotics, an independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck AG.

Specializing in technologies and software for self-driving vehicles, Torc Robotics was particularly interested in Algolux’s intellectual property, which is based on research at the intersection of deep learning, computer vision and computer imagery.

Its computer vision and image optimization solutions tackle the problem of safety in driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles.

Their paths had already crossed: based in Virginia, Torc had already been working with Algolux for over a year.

Algolux was on the CB Insights AI 100 list of the world’s most innovative artificial intelligence startups in 2021.

Its head office is in Montreal, with offices in Palo Alto and Munich.



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