Canada’s string of electric-vehicle and battery investments over the past three years have earned it “about double” its historical share of North American automotive spending, and the country is well positioned to continue overperforming, according to Unifor President Lana Payne.
Since 2020, Canada has absorbed 15 per cent of all electric vehicle and battery investments made across North America, Payne said, compared to the country’s average of a six-to-seven-per-cent share of the wider auto market over the past few decades.
Over the same period, the United States secured 83 per cent of North American EV investments, while Mexico landed just two per cent, according to research carried out by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., and shared with Unifor. The figures include automotive spending from across North America from 2020 through the third quarter of 2022.
“This is proving that Canada is a place where the auto sector can grow and we don’t have to be stuck with those lower numbers,” Payne said.
The EV investments total $80.4 billion (all figures in USD). Canada’s tally is $12.2 billion, while the United States and Mexico booked $66.9 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively.
While Canada has seen considerable success, Payne said the country cannot “rest on its laurels.”
“In order to stay in the game as we would say and be a leader, especially as the United States is ramping up their own public support for EV tech investments … the onus is on us to make sure that we continue to be vigilant here in Canada to be the kind of player that we can be.”
This will mean the country playing to its strengths, she added, leveraging such assets as its skilled workforce, access to critical minerals and stores of clean energy.
Among other priorities, Payne said Unifor is looking to Ottawa for a response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which offers large tax incentives to battery companies producing battery cells or components in the United States.
The Canadian government has pledged to respond to the Inflation Reduction Act in the 2023 budget.