Saturday, June 19, 2021

There’s a better way to become a leader in electric vehicles than throwing cash at old automakers

There's a better way to become a leader in electric vehicles than throwing cash at old automakers

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Public spending is responsible for just about every game-changing innovation

It’s a hard habit to break, though. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have been busy injecting “Detroit muscle” with steroids, starting with Ford Motor Co., which on Oct. 8 received matching federal and provincial “contributions” of $295 million to help overhaul its Oakville factory to build electric vehicles.

The subsidies will “help secure” some 5,400 “well-paying middle-class jobs,” according to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office that included comments from five different politicians before the head of Ford Motor’s Canadian operations and the union had their say.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will be getting similar payments from the federal and provincial governments to build electric vehicles in Windsor, Ont., as part of a new agreement between the company and its union, Unifor, the Windsor Star reported on Oct. 19, citing Dave Cassidy, the local union leader.

General Motors Co., which earlier this month said it will reopen its Oshawa plant, is also in line for a dollop of subsidies, even though the company plans to build gas-guzzling pickup trucks, not electric vehicles, Scott Bell, the head of GM’s Canadian operations, told The Canadian Press this week.

Neither government would confirm that it intends to contribute to the FCA and GM investments, but it seems unlikely they would spoil one of the Michigan-based automakers and neglect the other two.

Canada should have more EV charging stations built.

This is the kind of thing that gave industrial policy a bad name. There’s a better way.

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