LILLEY: Ford goes electric, Ontario poised to win

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The Oakville plant will not build just any type of car; it will build the type of vehicle that Ford Motor Co. is betting its future on.

Less than a year ago, Ford unveiled the Mach-E, a crossover with the famous Mustang nameplate that showed Ford was serious about electrics. Three weeks ago, Ford introduced its new F-150 plant in Michigan that will build an electric version of North America’s best-selling truck.

“It’s transformational,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, of Oakville’s announcement.

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The industry is moving towards electricity. Sales are still in single digits, but between technological advancements and government mandates – like California’s executive order that no new sales of gasoline vehicles can take place after 2035 – EVs appear to be on the move. This means Ontario is part of that shift rather than seeing factories like Oakville joining GM’s Oshawa plant to shut down.

Volpe tells me he speaks regularly with manufacturers who may be considering setting up new assembly plants, but aren’t sure Ontario can handle building electric vehicles. Ford’s move to Ontario is the seal of approval the industry needs.

“With this Ford announcement, I’m selling the reality of Ontario,” Volpe said.

Volpe represents the parts makers who sell to automakers and with this announcement and the changes to the USMCA trade deal, things are looking up for the Ontario auto industry.

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