Failure to secure investment demonstrates a lack of a National Auto Plan

OTTAWA-Today Brian Masse M. P. (Windsor West), NDP Industry Automotive and Border critic condemned the federal and provincial governments’ complete lack of a coordinated national auto strategy in the aftermath of the announcement by Toyota that new electric vehicle assembly will be in California not Ontario.

“This announcement reveals that Canada and Ontario don’t have a plan to obtain automotive investment in electric vehicle technology. There have been numerous new plant and electric vehicle investments over the last year and every one of them have gone to Michigan and now California,” Masse stated. “The US federal government and the States of Michigan and California have set up the funds, tax incentives, and regulations to make locating these new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facilities in those jurisdictions highly attractive. Ontario and Canada have been missing out because of governmental incompetence and inaction. We lack the requisite tools to secure these investments to ensure the vitality of this essential economic engine.”

Toyota announced that the electric version of the RAV4 will be assembled in California, a jurisdiction that demands that a certain percentage of each automaker’s fleet be zero-emission vehicles-such battery electric or fuel cell-by 2018. Earlier this year Ontario lost out to Michigan in Azure Dynamics’ decision to locate a new manufacturing facility to assemble electric versions of Ford’s Transit Connect commercial van. Michigan has obtained new vehicle and battery assembly investments by General Motors for the Chevy Volt.

In July of this year, a ground breaking was held in Michigan for the new Contact Power battery plant, a subsidiary of South Korea’s LG Chem Limited. It will be the ninth advanced battery factory to start construction in the US as a result of $2.4 billion in stimulus funding that the government allotted to electric vehicle technologies. Michigan alone has received $ 1.4 billion of the fund. The US Department of Energy issued a report that the fund would increase the country’s production of lithium-ion batteries from 2 percent to 20 percent of the world's supply by 2012 and up to 40 percent by 2015.

“Unless immediate action is taken by both the federal and Ontario governments to establish a National Auto Strategy to attract new electric vehicle investments the Canadian automotive industry will be left to ossify and decline,” Masse stated.