The federal and provincial governments in Canada believe the country's combination of a highly skilled labor force, an existing auto manufacturing base and an abundance of natural resources could make it a hub for electric vehicle battery production.
But becoming an integrated one-stop shop corridor of battery manufacturing would require buy-in from companies throughout the supply chain, industry leaders said. And Flavio Volpe, president of Canada's Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, a trade group whose members generate about $35 billion in parts sales annually, said the country must overcome a startup hurdle to make it happen: Canada currently lacks capacity to process the raw materials needed for battery production.
"Is the answer foreign companies like Panasonic or Aisin showing up to make batteries and solve problems related to processing and mining?" wonders Volpe. "If you're a for-profit company that's publicly traded, you're not going to make a decision like that just because you like the color of the Canadian flag — it's got to make sense."
But Canada is already banking on becoming an EV center for North America and the globe, and it has received plenty of good news on that front. Each of the Detroit 3 announced major electric assembly investments during negotiations with the Canadian union Unifor in 2020 and early 2021.