Tesla Canada sets up plant in Markham, Ont., to produce battery-making equipment for its gigafactories
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Nov 5, 2021
Emma Jarratt

Tesla has opened its first “branded” Canadian factory just outside Toronto, according to a statement from Markham’s mayor, to make the machinery that will make the automaker’s battery cells

An screenshot from Tesla Canada’s promotional recruitment video for their new Markham, Ont. factory location

Tesla Canada has opened its first “branded” factory just outside Toronto, according to a statement from Markham’s mayor, to make the machinery that will make the automaker’s battery cells

Tesla Canada is manufacturing in Canada, with a factory in Markham, Ont., to make machines that will be installed in Tesla’s gigafactories around the world to make battery cells.

The news that this plant was coming was first disclosed — but not widely reported — in a brief note included in a newsletter from Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti this summer.

“I am delighted to share that Tesla Canada is joining our already robust automotive and technology ecosystem by locating a manufacturing facility in the City of Markham,” reads the statement. “The facility will be the first branded Tesla Canada manufacturing facility in Canada and will produce state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment to be used at the Gigafactories located around the world in the production of batteries.”

The approximate location of Tesla’s new Canadian factory in Markham, Ontario

On Twitter and Instagram yesterday, Scarpitti reposted his statement and said the factory is located, “Just South of Hwy 7 west of Warden.”

Earlier this week, Tesla released a video describing its work in Canada targeting potential job seekers and it has added a “Markham” entry to its job’s board, though there are no listings for that location currently. Tesla promoted its video under the headline “come join our growing team in Markham!” They also provided French translation in the video, appealing to speakers of both of Canada’s official languages.

However, there are dozens of open Tesla jobs across Canada, including in Richmond Hill Ont., which is next to Markham.

The mayor’s new social media posts were first reported yesterday by Drive Tesla Canada.

Canada building the cogs in the machines

In 2019, Electric Autonomy Canada exclusively reported that Tesla had quietly acquired Richmond Hill-based precision battery specialist company, Hibar Systems Ltd.

Hibar’s technology is world-renowned for being the gold standard of battery cell making machinery. While Tesla did not comment directly on the acquisition, some of the technology appeared in the 2020 Tesla Battery Day event videos, confirmed by insiders with knowledge of the machinery, but it was unclear as to how or where Hibar was to fit into Tesla’s overall battery plan.

By mid-2021, Tesla had renamed Hibar to Tesla Toronto Automation ULC. And in the earlier part of this year Tesla extended its contract with lithium-ion expert and physicist Dr. Jeff Dahn’s research laboratory at Dalhousie University.

Now, it appears as though Telsa has earmarked Canada — specifically the suburbs north of Toronto — as one of the major spots where it will “make the machines that make the machines” to use Tesla CEO’s Elon Musk’s turn of phrase as well as a research hub for lithium-ion battery cells.

The recruitment video promoting work at the new Tesla Canada factory in Markham, Ont.

Quietly doing business

In typical cryptic fashion for the company, Tesla has yet to make a specific, official announcement about its activity in Markham. Sources tell Electric Autonomy that the factory is already set up, but it’s unclear if any machinery has actually been produced yet.

Recent Ontario lobbyist registry documents from Tesla make no mention of any manufacturing operations, but do show Tesla is lobbying the Markham-Unionville MPP, among others.

During its third-quarter 2021 earnings call in October, Tesla made no mention of a new factory in Canada nor did it give any indication that any new part of the production process would be established there.

Tesla has couched many of its forward-looking statements in cautions about uncertainty in timing and unreliable operation of its manufacturing and vehicle delivery schedules due to ongoing global supply chain challenges and shortages.

Electric Autonomy reached out to Tesla Canada for comment. Tesla has not yet responded to our request. We will bring updates and news as it is revealed.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to provide clarity on the operational status of Tesla’s Markham factory.

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