Canadian automotive industry
About the industry
Canada’s automotive industry is centered in the heart of North America’s largest vehicle producing region: the Great Lakes automotive manufacturing cluster. Canada is one of the world’s top 12 producers of light vehicles. Five global OEMs assemble more than 1.4 million vehicles at their Canadian plants each year: Stellantis, Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota. Their plants are supplied by a vibrant ecosystem of nearly 700 parts suppliers, including homegrown Tier 1 companies like Magna, Linamar and Martinrea. Canada is home to one of only five machine-tool-die-and-mould (MTDM) making clusters in the world. It’s been building vehicles for over a century, and has a proud legacy of high quality auto manufacturing. The sector plays a key role in Canada’s economy. With a $12.5 billion contribution to GDP in 2020, it is one of Canada’s largest manufacturing sectors. The industry directly employs more than 117,200 people, with an additional 371,400 people in aftermarket services and dealership networks in 2020.
Canadian companies are leading the way in developing transformative automotive technologies. Canada’s expertise in emerging technologies is attracting major investments in autonomous and connected vehicle research from global OEMs such as GM and Ford and tech giants like Uber, Google and Nvidia. Growth in Canada’s vibrant tech industry is increasingly driven by clusters of expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) including machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and computer vision. AI pioneers Geoffrey Hinton, Yoshua Bengio and Richard Sutton advanced the discipline in Canada, and their work helped lay the foundation for autonomous vehicles.
As connected and autonomous vehicles increasingly become reality, managing data from vehicles is an important element of safe and reliable transportation. Canada has the expertise to analyze the big data that connected vehicles are already starting to produce, with clusters of academic and commercial quantum computing R&D, Canadian companies are working with global OEMs to process massive volumes of data and optimize the performance of entire networks of vehicles. Canadian companies also have the expertise to keep that data secure.
Advancements in alternative powertrains are ensuring the cars of the future will be cleaner and greener. Companies across Canada are helping shape these technologies. Jeffrey Dahn’s lithium-ion energy density research has led to an exclusive research partnership with Tesla Motors, and drivetrain manufacturer TM4’s electric motors are powering light and heavy vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell R&D has spawned a cluster of homegrown companies like Hydrogenics and Ballard Power Systems, and attracted R&D investments from global OEMs.
In addition to light vehicles, Canada has expertise in commercial equipment and public transportation manufacturing. Canadian manufacturers produce vehicles for major public transportation systems, national rail networks and specialized applications such as mining. The Automotive, Transportation and Digital Technologies Branch at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is a key hub within the federal government on Canada’s automotive and transportation manufacturing industries. It serves as a conduit between the automotive industry and Government programs and services.
Vehicles made in Canada 2020
Five Original Equipment Manufacturers assemble light vehicles at Canada’s 7 auto assembly plants. All of Canada’s assembly plants are located in Ontario, while automotive suppliers and R&D are located throughout the country.
|Stellantis Canada||Brampton, Ontario||Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger|
|Windsor, Ontario||Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid, Chrysler Voyager, Chrysler Grand Caravan|
|Ford of Canada Ltd.||Oakville, Ontario||Ford Edge, Lincoln Nautilus|
|General Motors of Canada Ltd.||Ingersoll, Ontario||Chevrolet Equinox|
|Honda Canada Inc.||Alliston, Ontario||Honda Civic, Honda CR-V|
|Toyota Canada||Cambridge, Ontario||Lexus RX350, Lexus RX450h Hybrid, RAV4 hybrid|
|Woodstock, Ontario||Toyota RAV4|
Trade and export
Canada: an economy driven by exports and international trade
Canada’s automotive industry is part of an integrated North American market consisting of nearly half a billion people. Over 95% of vehicles manufactured in Canada are exported and 55% of automotive parts are made here. Canadian-based companies moreover have exceptional market reach: Canada has 14 in-force international free trade agreements, which give the nation preferential market access to more than 51 countries, 1.5 billion people, and economies that make up 60% of global GDP.
Canada has tariff-free access to its most significant automotive trading partner, the U.S., via the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which entered into force on July 1, 2020. Canada also has access to other key automotive manufacturing and consumer markets such as the European Union, which Canada participates in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with, which came into force on September 21, 2017. In addition, Canada has access to markets such as Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore via the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which entered into force on December 30, 2018.
Cutting-edge R&D, excellent market access and seamless integration into North America’s automotive manufacturing cluster make Canada an ideal location to design and build the car of the future. Learn more.
Innovation Canada backs business innovations
The Innovation Canada digital platform is the place to go to get a tailored list of what government can do for your business. It’s a simple online tool that brings together Canada’s innovation programs and services in one place. It has information on financing, funding programs, tax credits, wage subsidies, services designed to help businesses innovate, and expert advice to drive new collaborations.
Strategic Innovation Fund
Starting in 2021-22, over five years, the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) will be distributing $7.2 billion to innovative businesses across all of Canada’s industrial and technology sectors. $2.2 billion will be earmarked for innovative projects across the economy—including the automotive sector, and $5 billion will stem from the Net-Zero Accelerator, a fund dedicated to assisting in scaling up projects that will help decarbonization efforts and accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Potential applicants are invited to submit a Statement of Interest–a high-level overview of their project–which determines if projects are invited to submit a full application. Note that in order to receive funding under SIF, companies must be incorporated in Canada.
Innovation Superclusters Initiative
The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is investing up to $950 million in business-led innovation superclusters with high growth potential. The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster is among the five superclusters selected. The cluster brings together Tier 1 suppliers like Linamar and the Woodbridge Group with leading engineering institutions like University of Waterloo, and incubators like Communitech and the MaRS Discovery District. Together, they’ll build next-generation manufacturing capabilities using technologies like advanced robotics and 3D printing to ensure that Canada remains at the forefront of manufacturing and that “Made in Canada” is synonymous with “innovative” and “value added.”
The Supply Chains and Logistics Excellence.AI (SCALE.AI) Supercluster aims to accelerate industry adoption of enabling technologies through collaborative and incremental projects. Drawing on Canada’s leading artificial intelligence researchers, the supercluster will use the power of artificial intelligence to process large amounts of data and improve real-time decision making for companies with complex supply chains, like those in the automotive industry.
Provincial and regional programs
Canada’s provincial and territorial governments and Regional Development Agencies have additional programs available to support businesses including project financing, and funding programs for innovation, employee education and training.
Regulations and standards–Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada works closely with other federal government departments and agencies, the provinces and representatives of the automotive and transportation sectors on Canadian vehicle safety and emissions regulations.
Associations and organizations–Organizations working in Canada’s automotive sector.
Canadian Company Directories–Search for Canadian companies that can supply your organization with goods, services or technology.
Glossary of Automotive Terms–Research terms and acronyms related to automotive manufacturing, regulation and trade.
Canada North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)–NAICS is an industry classification system developed by the statistical agencies of Canada, Mexico and the United States prior to the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAICS codes group companies engaged in similar economic activities using four to six-digit codes. They are designed to provide a common statistical framework to facilitate analysis of the three countries’ economies.
Canadian Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes–Canada SIC codes group companies engaged in similar economic activities using four-digit codes. NAICS officially replaced SIC in 1997, but some commercial databases still use SIC codes. Canada and U.S. SIC codes are not identical
US North American Industry Classification System–U.S. NAICS codes group companies engaged in similar economic activities using 4-6 digit codes.
U.S Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes–U.S. SIC codes group companies engaged in similar economic activities using four-digit codes. U.S. SIC codes are not identical to Canadian SIC codes.
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