Silicon Valley, Calif., may be the darling location for automotive employers to recruit software talent and maintain research centres for new-age technologies. But some major companies have pegged Ontario sites to staff up for advanced development work.
From a Detroit perspective, Ontario is closer to home and potentially less expensive. And the Canadian government is eager to help.
Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Canadian powertrain parts supplier Linamar Corp. have all embraced Ontario to expand their focus on autonomous and driver-assist technologies and other software development.
- Ford invested a total of $380 million (all figures USD) into its new operations in the Ontario cities of Ottawa, Waterloo and Oakville over the past two years.
- In May, GM Canada announced a $129 million investment in its Oshawa assembly plant property to develop the Canadian Technical Centre McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track.
- Linamar, based in Guelph, Ontario, invested $500 million last year in a program that includes the opening of an innovation centre.
The projects have been part of a $1 billion investment wave in Ontario's technology corridor as the province steps up its push for auto technology and smart-mobility projects. Ontario added more tech jobs in 2018 than San Francisco, New York and Washington combined, according to a 2018 report from CBRE Canadian Research Center.
"Ontario also enjoys significant cost advantages for technology companies compared to the U.S.," Kwok Wong, spokesman for the Ontario ministry of economic development, job creation and trade, told Automotive News. "Silicon Valley is almost twice as expensive as Ontario's tech corridor."
Wong says Ontario is attempting to persuade more automotive employers to consider r&d operations closer to their other operations in the Great Lakes region. In February, Ontario launched what it calls its Driving Prosperity strategy to further position the province for the growing auto and technology corridor.