The Ontario automotive industry continues to be an intense focus for the provincial and federal governments. Commitments from both levels of government to enable innovation and create a green economy has helped to secure new investments from Canadian businesses, of whom, General Motors (GM Canada) recently announced their expansion in southwestern Ontario.
As part of GM Canada’s expansion news, the company declared their plans to create an Automotive Software Development Centre in Markham, Ontario. The company will also expand their advanced engineering facilities in Oshawa and Kapuskasing, Ontario.
The new Automotive Software Development Centre will support approximately 700 engineering jobs within Markham, one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. This centre will focus on the development of innovative vehicle technologies such as autonomous vehicle software and controls, safety and vehicle dynamics technology, and connected vehicle technology.
General Motors Canada is Rapidly Expanding its Canadian Engineering Capabilities
General Motors has begun making several key investments into its Ontario operations. This is highlighted by its current engineering facilities in Oshawa and Kapuskasing, as well as the company’s Communitech Innovation Lab based in Waterloo, Ontario. The development of an entirely new facility in Markham proves the company’s commitment to developing their next generation of vehicle technologies within Canada.
The company indicated that their Canadian investments were motivated by “a dynamic new innovation cluster” that has the ability to support “some of the most exciting work in our global industry”.
The federal government’s efforts to increase the country’s innovation capacity is helping to spur new investments in disruptive technologies such as those being developed by GM Canada. The Province of Ontario’s low-carbon economy will also help to attract innovative companies.
GM Canada’s Expansion to Markham was a Calculated Decision
General Motors points out many reasons why they chose Markham, Ontario as the home of their new engineering facility. Among other reasons that would have influenced the decision, GM stated that Markham:
- Has a clear capacity for innovation;
- Maintains a pool of proven tech talent; and
- Has a strong ecosystem of universities, startups, and innovative suppliers.
“With this expansion, GM Canada will play an important role in our evolution toward vehicles that are connected, autonomous, shared and electric.”
– Mark Reuss, GM Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain
Automotive Manufacturers Investing in the Canadian Economy
The Canadian automotive industry has received a number of key investments from vehicle manufacturers over the last couple of years. A few of these include:
- Ford of Canada: $700 million into its Oakville assembly plant;
- General Motors of Canada: $560 million to build Chevy Equinox at CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll;
- Honda of Canada: $857 million into their Alliston assembly plant;
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada: $431 million into its Cambridge and Woodstock assembly plants; and
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: $2 billion into its Windsor assembly plant.
Canadian Government Funding for Automotive Manufacturers
Innovative Canadian automotive companies can also apply for government grants and funding opportunities to offset the costs of business expansion. Performing research and development and growing your business within Canada is becoming easier due to government funding programs such as:
Launched in August 2017, the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) supports four streams of funding that automotive manufacturers can access. The $1.26 billion fund will support projects over a 5-year period, helping companies invest in research and development, business growth and facility expansion, and also supports foreign direct investment into Canada’s manufacturing and industrial sectors. Applicants may receive repayable or non-repayble funding, or a combination of both as decided by government reviewers. Up to 50% of eligible expenses may be received, with no maximum cap on the funding a particular project may access.
Automotive businesses applying for the Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) may choose between two streams of funding. The New Economy stream enables businesses to perform in-house research, development, and productivity enhancing projects. A combination of grants and repayable funding may be awarded to a maximum 40% of eligible project costs, however businesses must have more than $10 million in eligible project expenses to qualify.