(Montreal – September 15, 2010) The race is on in the automotive industry, specifically for electric vehicles (EV), now that growth has replaced survival as the objective for many companies. In fact, EVs are creating new global opportunities that have the potential to transform the industry here in Canada as well, Ernst & Young revealed today at the World Energy Congress.
“Canada has the potential to become an important player in EV production and deployment, not only because of our plentiful natural resources but also due to our strong research and development teams spread across the country,” says Jean-François Tremblay, Ernst & Young’s Advanced Vehicle Powertrain Taskforce Leader, based in Montreal.
In Canada, well over 30 automotive suppliers — some of which have already established themselves as important stakeholders — have begun to focus on emerging global opportunities. Several Canadian utility companies are also engaging in strategic plans to support the EV industry.
The transformation of the industry is also bringing new stakeholders outside of the currently existing automotive value chain. More players than ever will be involved in determining the course of the EV industry over the next few decades; for instance telecommunications and insurance companies are now invited to participate in vehicle design and concept cars.
Not only is the industry transformation a response to the shifting post-recession environment, it’s also a response to climate change and increasing consumer awareness towards alternative powertrain solutions.
“Canada may have the natural advantages, but we’re seeing China and other countries invest heavily to attract producers of new vehicle technologies,” says Cynthia Orr, Leader of Ernst & Young’s Canadian Cleantech practice. “Right now there are incredible opportunities for investors and government to get behind EV and support our entrepreneurs in the race.”
More than 10 startup projects worldwide are currently seeking private funding before committing to production in a specific geography, a fact that illustrates the need for Canada to position itself for opportunity.
“The train has already left the station, and it’s time for Canada to get on board,” says Tremblay, “Like any emerging industry, there will be winners and losers. Those who offer a proactive approach and enter into innovative partnerships stand to benefit most.”
One of the critical success factors is to create sustainable demand early in the adoption process. Governments can assist in advancing the EV agenda by backing “fleets” to begin the conversion to EVs.
A collaborative approach across provinces would help to increase EV awareness in Canada, and in creating demand to justify local production activities.
To start, EV stakeholders in Canada should work together on the following objectives:
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