Ontario updates auto strategy to focus on electric vehicle, battery production
The Ontario government has released phase two of its ‘Driving Prosperity’ auto strategy to create a domestic battery ecosystem and position Ontario as a leading electric vehicle production hub.
At a news conference in Guelph Wednesday morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said phase two of the plan will respond to growing global demand for EVs by supporting domestic parts producers and building a new EV supply chain, from the mining and refining of raw materials to the assembly of batteries and vehicles.
The plan calls for 400,000 built-in-Ontario EVs by 2030.
“Our government has a plan to unleash Ontario’s economic potential as we build up home-grown supply chains for electric vehicles and battery manufacturing,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This plan makes clear that Ontario is a world-leading partner in creating the best vehicles with the best labour force and clean energy. With this next phase of Driving Prosperity, we’re telling the world: we want your businesses!”
The updated strategy has four main objectives:
- Reposition vehicle and parts production for the car of the future through new automaker mandates for hybrid and battery EVs, attract a new battery assembly plant and increase exports of Ontario-made auto parts and innovations
- Establish and support an electric battery supply chain ecosystem that connects Northern Ontario’s mineral wealth with the manufacturing strength of Southern Ontario
- Innovate in every stage of development from creation, to design, to adoption of new products and services
- Invest in Ontario's auto workers by equipping them with the skills they need to secure rewarding, high-paying jobs in the auto sector and across the broader supply chain. - Source: Province of Ontario
“We’re going to shift gears towards new areas of opportunity,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, jobs and trade. “Electric vehicles, electric battery production, state of the art manufacturing technologies. We’re not only going to stay ahead of the curve, we’re going to lead that curve.”
Dave Cassidy, the president of Unifor Local 444 which represents workers at Windsor Assembly plant is encouraged by the plan.
Cassidy told CTV Windsor he’s confident Premier Ford will deliver a battery plant for Ontario, and would be thrilled to see it in Windsor, which he says would complement vehicle assembly locally and assist with the overall supply chain and “just-in-time” delivery.
“Eight-thousand jobs is what he speaks about. That’s a lot of jobs,” said Cassidy about the projected direct and indirect jobs that could be supported by hosting an EV battery plant. “And if we land one here in Windsor-Essex County, that’d be very good for us.”
But many are fearful this plan could be derailed by trade issues with the United States. U.S. President Joe Biden is pushing for a $12,500 tax credit for Americans buying American-made electric vehicles.
It’s believed that could push potential Ontario investments to the U.S. instead.
Premier Ford says it violates trade rules and has spoken with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to get an exclusion from the policy.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to get excluded from this buy America,” said Ford. “It’s going to hurt both sides of the border if he continues to do this.”
Stephen MacKenzie with Invest Windsor Essex says that type of Buy America policy will be a disincentive for automakers to locate a battery plant in Canada, a move that can be fought and won in court.
“But it might be three years down the road and a company may have already made a decision that it may be too late,” MacKenzie said.
Trudeau is meeting with Biden and Mexico’s president this week where protectionism is expected to be top of mind.