October 1, 2022

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Ontario’s plan to compete with Detroit in auto investments and jobs

11 min read

Ontario’s economic development boss Vic Fedeli remembers the moment the government decided to secure Ontario’s spot as the second-largest auto hub in North America behind Detroit.

It was a few years ago when Sergio Marchionne, the former chairman of Fiat Chrysler (now called Stellantis) logged a complaint. 

“The then-chair of what was then called Fiat Chrysler suggested that the government of Ontario create the conditions to be more competitive,” Fedeli told the Detroit Free Press.

Marchionne died in July 2018. But when Doug Ford was elected premier of Ontario that year, Ford’s new government went to work on Marchionne’s request, said Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. 

“We promised the automakers we would lower the cost of doing business,” Fedeli said. “We go to the companies now with a package that saves them $7 billion ($5.5 billion U.S.) a year in operating costs.” 

Fedeli credits this package, which is one in an arsenal Canada uses to lure business, for prompting many companies to invest in their operations in Ontario, including the $6 billion in investments General Motors and Stellantis recently announced for the province.

Vic Fedeli, Ontario's minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Ontario, and Canada as a whole, are aggressively pushing to win auto industry investment and to dominate raw material supplies used for electric vehicle batteries. But the push is not competitive with Michigan, Fedeli insists: It is a partnership.

“I don’t see it as competitive, I see it as collaborative,” Fedeli said. “There’s always spirited competition, but we need each other as partners … we buy 10% of all the cars made in the U.S. We need each other, we’re innovating, we innovate together.”

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