By Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
Today, all manufacturers, from well-established automotive giants to talented newcomers are adding more electric vehicles (EVs) to their lineup—and here in Ontario, Canada, we are focused on building the cars and automotive technology of the future.
Traditionally, the province has always been a front-runner in the automotive industry, so it’s not a surprise that we have the talent, the location and the raw goods to build and export the next generation of green automotive technology.
The recent landslide of investments in EV development in the province makes it clear—Ontario is open for business.
An Industry Steeped in Tradition
Ontario has always been a leader in the automotive sector.
Our expertise dates back to the early 1900s when the first Ford Model C vehicles were produced in what is now Windsor, Ontario. It’s the same reason why to this day Ford still comes to Ontario to produce their top end GT supercar.
The sector has long taken notice of the province’s automotive prowess. We are the second-largest vehicle producer in North America, with over 100,000 employees and five of the world’s top original equipment manufacturers have facilities here. Ontario is also home to one of the best vehicle manufacturing plants in the world, according to J.D. Power.
It’s no wonder that automotive giants are looking to take advantage of our capabilities. We have the facilities and the knowledge to be a global leader in the development of electric vehicles.
A New Wave of Vehicles
In Ontario, we know that the future of automotive is moving towards the next generation of vehicle technology—and we have the expertise to build these technologies. It’s one reason our auto industry has gained notoriety, and why so many automotive leaders are interested in growing or re-tooling their operations in the province.
Over the past year, we have seen massive proposed investments by industry leaders in Ontario’s EV sector.
Ford has solidified their commitment to Ontario by investing a proposed $1.8 billion to produce battery EVs at its Oakville assembly complex. This investment includes the production of five new electric vehicle models.
Stellantis also announced it will invest a proposed $1.5 billion over three years to upgrade its assembly plant in Windsor to build electric vehicles.
Lastly, GM announced it would invest a proposed $1.4 billion in its CAMI plant in Ingersoll to produce its BrightDrop all-electric delivery van, which will become the first all-electric delivery vehicle produced by a mainstream automaker in Canada.
Ford, Stellantis and GM will join the ranks of green transportation innovators right here in Ontario, including Tesla, who is investing in their battery manufacturing R&D facility in Richmond Hill.
The recent boom of investments in the province shows that Ontario has the necessary components and competitive environment ripe for EV development. Through lowering taxes, reducing electricity costs, and cutting red tape, our government reduced the cost of doing business in Ontario by nearly $7 billion a year.
Ontario also benefits from being located in the heart of one of North America’s manufacturing hubs. We are a gateway to global markets with easy access to the rest of the world by road, rail and air. Only a day’s drive to 30 automotive assembly plants, Ontario’s major highways connect to 14 U.S. border crossings. Our internationally connected railway system joins with 42 intermodal terminals. And, we are home to four international airports, including the largest in all of Canada.
More than that, Ontario’s free trade agreements offer easy market access to companies looking to invest.
Through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Ontario offers seamless trade with our neighbors to the south, Europe and the Asia Pacific, including electric vehicles and EV-battery components. These relationships mean businesses can cut down on their capital expenditures and source equipment globally.
But perhaps the most crucial advantage of our location comes from our mining industry. Northern Ontario is a natural hotbed for the critical minerals needed to develop electric vehicle batteries, including graphite, cobalt, lithium and nickel.
The aptly named town of Cobalt, Ontario is home to North America’s only permitted cobalt refinery, and Canada is the number one producer of nickel in North America, with approximately 40 percent of all nickel coming from Ontario.
Our mines and refineries have been key suppliers of Class 1 nickel for decades. In fact, Ontario is home to the world’s second-largest nickel sulphide deposit site, located in Greater Sudbury, so we are well-positioned as one of only a handful of suppliers to the electric vehicle battery market.
A Unique Talent Pool
If Ontario is known for doing one thing exceptionally well, it’s producing the best and brightest talent.
Ontario is where cutting-edge thinking is powered by a dynamic ecosystem of R&D. We are the second-largest IT cluster in North America and are supported by a tech workforce of over 320,000 employees with expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
We are also known for our contributions to the cleantech sector. As the number one cleantech cluster in the country, we understand sustainability. Ontario boasts 94 percent emissions-free electricity, providing a key factor in helping companies meet their sustainability goals.
We are also home to the world’s first all-electric, battery-powered underground mine, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions associated with moving materials. As a result, companies can be assured that our mining practices, EV or otherwise, are among the most ethical on the planet.
Each of these accolades, coupled with a growing pool of specialized talent in electrical and chemical engineering and materials science, make Ontario a natural choice when it comes to EV investment.
A Supportive Environment
Our government supports companies looking to invest in Ontario’s EV ecosystem. The province has several incentives that make us an attractive destination for companies to locate their EV business.
Our new investment attraction agency, Invest Ontario, was created specifically to nurture investment and help businesses grow. Invest Ontario will move at the speed of business and will give companies the expertise they need to thrive in the province. As part of the agency’s offerings is a $400-million fund to encourage investments in the advanced manufacturing sector, such as investment in EV-related technologies. We have also committed $56.4 million to the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) to accelerate electric driving development in the province. Plus, our government is supportive of the Net Zero Accelerator Fund, an $8-billion federal program to expedite clean energy projects, including battery cell facilities.
Through the province’s Job Site Challenge, our government is developing an inventory of mega sites that can support large-scale manufacturing operations, like those needed to develop EV automobiles and technology. These sites are endorsed by an internationally recognized site selector and are serviceable by utilities, transportation and other infrastructure.
Finally, in 2019 we launched Ontario’s Driving Prosperity plan to help support the automotive industry with programs that facilitate technology, accelerate the development of electric, connected and autonomous driving technologies and provide experiential learning opportunities.
These commitments to excellence, our talented workforce, prime location and history of quality help bolster Ontario as a global electric vehicle manufacturing hub. If you’re not already tapping into our EV ecosystem, now is the best time to connect with us and invest in Ontario.