Canada must once again grab its share of the auto industry, despite U.S. protectionism – by Dimitry Anastakis (The Conversation – December 2, 2021)

Dimitry Anastakis is Professor and LR Wilson/RJ Currie Chair in Canadian Business History, University of Toronto.

The news that Tesla recently reached the extraordinary valuation of US$1 trillion shows yet again that the automobile industry remains a huge economic force shaping the planet.

Tesla’s growth also reflects how the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) marks the fifth great wave of automotive investment since 1900. Despite not owning any car companies, Canada has benefited immensely from every previous wave thanks to shrewd policy-makers who used every tool possible to gain a fair share of the auto market.

But as the global industry spends hundreds of billions of dollars to completely retool for an EV future, how will Canada ensure it benefits from the current spending spree?

With the threat of protectionist measures in the United States aimed at keeping American EV investment at home, a look back at the ways Canadians have adapted economically to secure auto investment shows how a peripheral economy gained a major auto sector — and how it might hold onto it in the electrified future.

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