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REGIONS AMERICAS


WEHAVE ALL THE ELEMENTS IN PLACE TO LEAD IN EVERY SINGLECOMPONENTOF THE VEHICLE OF TOMORROW


Avoiding Canada’s EVresourcecurse O


ONTARIO HAS DRAWNRECORD INVESTMENT IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES, BUT WANTS INTO THE BATTERY RACE. DANIELLE MYLES REPORTS


ver a period of six months, Canada’s auto industry has been brought back to life.


Starting last autumn, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis announced C$5.7bn ($4.5bn) worth of invest- ment in Ontario — more than C$4bn of which will re-tool their factories to build electric vehicles (EVs). When


the BrightDrop delivery van starts rolling off production lines at the General Motors Ingersoll plant next year, it will become the country’s first large-scale EV operation. Canada’s biggest ever flurry of auto invest-


ment could not have comesooner.Once ranked among the world’s biggest five auto manufac- turers, it nowfails to crack the top 10.“We were watching the death of our industry by a thou- sand cuts. But now the pendulum has swung for the first time in over 20 years,” says Jerry Dias, president of Canada’s biggest private sec- tor union, Unifor, which helped secure the deals. He is now speaking with US auto parts companies that are looking to returntoCanada.


Upstreamblueprint The first major investments in Canadian elec- tric mobility have brought bigger ambitions to life. The government and auto industry are asserting the country as a serious contender in the race to build the full value chain for next- generation vehicles. It has abundant reserves of battery minerals and is a top-six producer of graphite, nickel and cobalt, according to the Mining Association of Canada (MAC). It places fourth in BloombergNEF’s lithium-ion battery supply chain ranking, behind China, South Korea and Japan which collectively harbour 80%of today’s capacity. Ontario is North America’s second biggest


auto cluster — trailing only Michigan — and its capital Toronto ranks fourth in CBRE’s latest North American tech talent report.


60


The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’


Association (APMA) says nearly 400 companies want to be part of their Project Arrow, which is building a 100%-Canadian concept EV. “We have stumbled on an incredible auto-tech crossover community,” says APMA president Flavio Volpe. “Wehave alltheelementsin place to leadin every singlecomponent of the vehicle of tomorrow.” According to the national statistics office,


nearly 70% of the electricity grid is powered by renewables.Thebulk is provided byhydropower, which in recent years has been shown to emit greenhouse gases at levels that challenge its clas- sification as ‘clean power’. But trade body WaterPower Canada notes that the carbon diox- ide-equivalent emissions generated by the coun- try’s hydroelectricity is on par with wind power, and the methane emissions from its cold reser- voirs are lower than those inwarmer climates. Itmeans the country’s green credentials are


touted as a drawcard for the energy-intensive activity of battery production – especially as momentum grows globally to regulate emis- sions in EV production. “We have the potential to produce the lowest carbon battery EV on a lifecycle basis anywhere in theworld,” saysMAC vice president Brendan Marshall. Research firm Benchmark Mineral


Intelligence recently told the Canadian parlia- ment that a true leader is yet to emerge in building EV and battery supply chains, and that Canada can create an upstream blueprint. Its combination of minerals, tech capabilities and world-class suppliers, such as Magna, also cre- ates a rare opportunityamong legacy auto mar- kets to offset the old-economy job losses inher- ent in the EV transition.


Race against time But for all its potential, Asia’s dominance and Europe’s growing battery capacity are sparking concerns that Canada may miss its window. A recent Clean Energy Canada (CEC) report


www.fDiIntelligence.com August/September 2021


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