‘I believe the automotive industry is thrown open to disruption like it’s never been thrown open before’
When U.S. President Joe Biden hopped behind the wheel of a new Ford Electric F-150 last month, he called it the future of the U.S. economy: “A union-made product, right here in America.”
For some Canadians, his words rang out like a wake-up call because in recent years, engines for the F-150, and other Ford vehicles, have been assembled in Windsor, Ontario.
Of course, electric vehicles like the new F-150 don’t have engines — they have batteries and motors. That’s why Stephen MacKenzie, president of Invest Windsor Essex, the local economic development corporation, is scrambling to attract battery manufacturers to the region. “We have automotives in our DNA,” said MacKenzie, “but things are changing.”
As automotive manufacturers, one by one, announce plans to move away from gasoline and shift production to electric vehicles, it’s prompting calls for a new industrial policy in Canada to address a major gap.
Even as the area along the Michigan-Ontario border has a 100-year-old auto sector, battery manufacturing remains a nascent industry throughout North America, and is nearly non-existent in Canada.