Major Tesla facility in Canada still a possibility, government filings reveal

Canada appeared to be a front runner for a significant Tesla investment last year, with government documents revealing the automaker was lobbying to build an “advanced manufacturing facility” north of the border. Hopes for a Canadian Gigafactory went quiet after it was announced in March that Mexico had been picked for the location of Tesla’s next vehicle Gigafactory in Nuevo Leon.

While Tesla apparently has no immediate plans to build vehicles in Canada, they are still very much interested in expanding into the country in a major way. According to new lobbying documents filed with the Ontario government and published on April 28, Tesla wants to work with government “to identify opportunities for industrial facility, mineral extraction and processing project permitting reforms to increase the competitiveness of Ontario and its ability to attract capital through approvals timeframes that are competitive with other locations.”

The documents, first reported by Electric Autonomy and reviewed by Drive Tesla, show the company is lobbying for far more than just an industrial facility, also wanting to:

  1. Provide input and make recommendations on policies, programs, regulations and decisions that impact the demand for and/or adoption of solar energy, battery energy storage and related infrastructure;
  2. Engage with the government and its agencies to identify opportunities and propose solutions to reduce electricity costs for large-scale DC fast charging operations, including for commercial truck fleets;
  3. Provide input and make recommendations to the government on policies, programs, regulations or decisions that could impact the competitiveness of, demand for, and availability of electric vehicles in Ontario;
  4. Provide input and recommendations to the government regarding policies, programs, regulations and decisions regarding autonomous and connected vehicles, testing and operation;
  5. Provide recommendations to government with respect to policy, program and regulatory designs which may impact market fairness and equality among automotive retailers or that may negatively impact consumers in Ontario; and
  6. Provide input into electricity market renewal processes including into consultations on matters related to distributed energy resources with the intent of ensuring a fair and equitable marketplace for energy storage and solar services/ products in Ontario;
  7. Work to identify opportunities for industrial facility permitting reforms to increase the competitiveness of Ontario and its ability to attract capital through approvals timeframes that are competitive with other manufacturing locations while working with government to identify incentives to further increase the attractiveness of Ontario;
  8. Provide input and seek opportunities to participate in electronic vehicle registration pilot program (“Digital Dealer Registration”);
  9. Ensure the efficient and consistent integration of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure with the transmission and distribution systems across the province. Tesla’s intended outcome is to help accelerate the pace at which charging station new service connections are provided while minimizing connection costs, in order to increase number of charging stations deployed in Ontario.

Picking Ontario for a “mineral extraction and processing” project makes sense considering the province’s abundance of many of the raw materials that go into making electric vehicle (EV) batteries. German automaker Volkswagen recently highlighted that abundance by announcing last month it would be building a $7 billion battery cell factory in St. Thomas. The project will receive $13 billion in incentives from government, and will be the company’s first North American battery cell factory.

Tesla has been laying the groundwork for such a facility for many months. In September last year the company hired Aleem Ladak, a former Senior Mineral Economist and Battery Mineral Advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, to be Tesla’s new Critical Minerals & Supply Chain Policy Advisor in Canada.

Tesla also visited a graphite mine in neighbouring Quebec last year, the same province where they were also looking for a “high-volume” recruiter, hinting at a major hiring campaign coming soon. In fact, Tesla already has a deal in place for lithium from Quebec, amending a supply deal with Piedmont Lithium earlier this year.

Based on information received by Drive Tesla last year, the automaker was looking closely at sites in a region north of Toronto for a potential facility, although we haven’t received any updates on that information in several months.

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