Canada's Automotive Industry: Driving Innovation

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry at Government of Canada


As the automotive world turns its attention to Toronto this week for the 2020 Canadian International AutoShow, the spotlight is on Canada and how this sector is playing an active role in designing, developing, and building the technology of tomorrow. 

Canada’s automotive industry has always been an important part of our economy. It has created jobs and export opportunities here for decades, but now as we collectively seek fast-acting solutions to the climate crisis, Canada’s automotive sector has an important new role to play. 

As Minister for Innovation, Science, and Industry, it’s my intention to support the best new made-in-Canada solutions to our changing planet. With this challenge comes exciting opportunities for our traditional sectors to grow and remain competitive on a global scale. The fact is, the world is moving in this direction, and we can either fall behind or make the most of these changes by adapting our approach.

It would be hard to talk about climate change without talking about the impact caused by cars on the road, but to me, this problem doesn’t require the disappearance of cars to solve. It requires the support of emerging technologies to keep cars on the road, by lessening their toll on the planet. 

At the centre of one of North America’s largest automotive manufacturing clusters, Canada’s world-class automotive workers produce nearly 2 million vehicles a year. We are also home to one of the largest clusters of high-tech firms outside of Silicon Valley, with global leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, network security, software development, telecommunications, fuel cell technology and battery electrification – technologies that are reshaping the future of mobility.

Through innovation programs, we have helped secure major reinvestments in Canada’s automotive industry. Since 2015, Canadian automotive manufacturers have invested $6.7 billion in Canada, growing both our advanced manufacturing capacity and our research and development strength. 

Without a doubt, Canada’s auto industry is in a strong position to turn its attention to the future. 

As a Government, we need to keep creating the conditions that will position our country as a leader in designing, building and manufacturing the technologies and vehicles of tomorrow. As we look to double down on the future of the Canadian automotive industry, sustainable leadership will require concentrated efforts in four main areas: technology, talent, infrastructure, and regulation. 

Our government’s initiatives are creating the demonstration zones Canadian researchers and business need to test their technology in the real world. We’ve also created Superclusters to support advanced manufacturing and AI, bringing Canadian companies together with academics and other stakeholders to collaborate on exciting, groundbreaking clean technologies. Combined with initiatives such as the iZEV program that is driving the adoption of zero-emission vehicles on Canadian roads, we are establishing Canada’s reputation as a nation of innovators that is ready to lead in shaping the clean and digital future of mobility.  

This nation of innovators will need a steady diet of talent to grow. We’ve made very deliberate investments in both growing talent and attracting skilled immigrants from other countries. Recognizing that new technologies will disrupt some workers, we are also focused on shaping lifelong education, partnering with organizations such as Mitacs to develop new pathways for Canadians. 

Underlying this social and economic transformation is a need to invest in infrastructure. Just as governments built the roads and railways of the past, we are making aggressive investments into electric charging stations and broadband networks in order to encourage the adoption of electric, hybrid and connected vehicles. 

There is a tremendous opportunity for Canada to lead in designing, developing and manufacturing the vehicle of the future. We have the talent, innovative technologies, enabling infrastructure and regulatory intelligence to meet the evolving expectations of Canadians. Our pedal’s to the floor - unless, of course, the vehicle of the future doesn’t need one.