Towards the end of last year and into 2023 there were several signs that Tesla could be planning a significant investment in Canada, and in particular in Ontario. While nothing has come to fruition yet, newly released government documents show the Ontario provincial government has been working closely with Tesla for at least the last three years to make it happen.
According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Electric Autonomy, there has been a lengthy series of meetings and exchanges between Tesla and Ontario officials from 2020 to 2023, showing just how serious the government was in their efforts to land a major investment from the automaker.
The documents disclose a high level of interaction between Ontario’s government and Tesla’s decision-makers, including Elon Musk himself. In December 2022, a commercial officer at the Ontario Trade and Investment Office in Dallas forwarded an article to Musk, announcing Canada’s intention to subsidize EV battery production. The documents also reveal that Ontario officials, from the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade to the Minister of Energy, have been actively engaged with Tesla, seeking to capitalize on “investment opportunities.”
Of the 150 documents released under the FOI request, just 20 were made accessible, with many heavily redacted. Despite this, a lot of interesting information was still obtained. In one briefing note from the fall of 2022, at the height of the rumours of a Tesla investment in Canada, a senior policy advisor highlighted Ontario as a world-class automotive supply base, a growing EV assembly and battery supply chain, clean energy sources, critical mineral resources, a skilled workforce, and a thriving R&D ecosystem.
The documents also refer to Tesla’s undisclosed Canadian activities, which were redacted due to privacy laws. These include details about Tesla’s R&D facilities in Canada, beyond the advanced battery lab led by Jeff Dahn Lab at Dalhousie University. Additionally, the correspondence reveals Tesla’s interest in potential collaborations with Canadian universities and research networks for connected and autonomous vehicle development.
While many were hoping Canada would land Tesla’s next Gigafactory location, that location eventually ended up being Mexico. But all hope is not lost as Tesla is expected to announce the location of their next Gigafactory before the end of the year, although a location outside of North America appears to be likely. That leaves the possibility open that Tesla could expand into Canada with a battery production facility, something which Volkswagen has already announced plans to do in St. Thomas, Ontario.