Battery plants or bust: Why some think Ottawa’s $30-billion EV bet puts Canada on the wrong track – by Marisa Coulton (Financial Post – August 2023)

Country should be focused on what it’s good at, instead of trying to compete with U.S., critics say

Canada is pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into electric vehicle battery plants, but is this the best way for policymakers to grab a piece of the EV supply chain? It’s a question some industry watchers are asking now that the federal government has committed $13 billion toward a Volkswagen AG battery plant in St. Thomas, Ont., as well as $15 billion in funding for the construction of a Stellantis NV-LG Energy Solution battery plant in Windsor, Ont.

While batteries are a key component of the EV market, Greig Mordue, a professor of engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and former general manager of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, thinks the incentives were “over-the-top,” and ultimately won’t give Canada the edge over the United States it is looking for.

“I don’t understand, frankly, the fixation on a battery plant,” Mordue said. “They wanted a battery plant. Nothing else would suffice.”

Mordue believes Canada should focus on EV assembly plants, which come with a lot of spin-off benefits, such as the manufacturing of car seats and stamp parts. Such large, bulky car parts would have to be manufactured in Canada, near the assembly plant, because it would be too expensive to transport them over long distances.

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