Ontario economic development minister Vic Fedeli discusses with Consul General Kim Deuk Hwan of Korea
Ontario economic development minister Vic Fedeli (left) in discussion with Japan’s Consul General Sasayama Takuya (right) at the Japanese consulate in Toronto. Photo: Victor Fedeli/Twitter

In a trip that’s part trade mission, part victory lap, Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, is heading to South Korea and Japan next week to meet with automakers and battery manufacturers hoping to add to the recent wave of EV-related auto sector investments in Ontario

Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade is heading to Asia next week to meet with several key global automakers and battery manufacturers, with a goal of further building the province’s evolving auto and electric vehicle sector.

In an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada, Fedeli says the trip will begin in South Korea, where he will meet with “several prospects” to help expand Ontario’s EV supply chain.

Fedeli would not name who these prospects will be, but says that the government has been meeting with them for “some months” and they are companies they “hope to land” in Ontario soon. 

The trip will also include a visit with Stellantis and LG Energy Solutions to “thank them” for investing $5.5 billion earlier this year to build Canada’s first large-scale battery cell manufacturing plant, in Windsor, Ont. 

After South Korea, Fedeli will be stopping in Japan, for meetings with executives at Honda, Toyota, electronics and battery manufacturer Panasonic, as well engineering and electronics conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Strengthening the supply chain

The announcement of this trip comes as Ontario is riding a wave of new auto investments focused on electric vehicles over the last couple of years.

The provincial government has been heavily focused on transforming Ontario into a leader in each part of the EV supply chain, from critical minerals mining to battery manufacturing and assembly.

Ontario, often working in concert with the federal government, has managed to make significant strides in landing major investments to build EV assembly plants from automakers like General Motors, Stellantis and Ford. Most recently, the province has attracted battery manufacturing investments from South Korea’s DongShin Motech Ltd. (a $90-million battery casing facility) in Windsor and Belgium-based Umicore (a $1.5-billion cathode active material and precursor plant) near Kingston.

Vic Fedeli, Ontario minister of economic development, job creation & trade. Photo: Victor Fedeli/Twitter

“We’ve got the critical minerals here in Ontario. We now have companies who will be making precursors, we have companies who will be making batteries. We have a lot of our parts suppliers who are pivoting to EV, we’ve got the connected and autonomous components that are manufactured here. So all of this together is a complete ecosystem.”

That being said, Fedeli says the government will continue looking to expand in “any piece of the EV revolution” during this trip to Asia. 

“We will be going around the horn again, looking for battery companies, cathode makers, any company that would have a good opportunity for them to make money in Ontario.”

Cementing key relationships

Heading into next week, Fedeli notes that he will be meeting with many companies the government has been in communication with virtually over the last couple of years.

“They’re familiar with our sales pitch and [we’ve] talked to them about how we’ve done what they asked — we lowered the cost of doing business by $7 billion annually, pulling all the government levers of lowering taxes, lowering energy rates, cutting red tape,” says Fedeli. “We’ve done everything they’ve asked and so now we’ll ask them to make their commitments to Ontario.”

“Coming home, we hope to be able to say we re-engaged with all of our friends that we’ve made since our last visit in 2019. All of those visits turned out to be very successful. We landed $16-billion worth of EV investment in 20 months, so in the coming weeks and or months we hope that the meetings we have next week will solidify [relationships].”