Parts plants prepare for rEVolution in Canada's switchover from gas-powered vehicles
Canada's Liberal government wants all vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035
Manufacturers that make parts for vehicles using gasoline, diesel, gas-turbine and other internal combustion engines (ICE) are preparing to change over to electric vehicle (EV) parts production in the lead-up to the federal government's 2035 target of seeing every new light-duty vehicle sold in Canada be zero emissions.
"We're working with our customers — the Tier 1. They also are changing over their factories to support electrification, and we're looking for some new customers," said David Ulrich, general manager of KB Components Canada.
The Tier 2 Windsor, Ont., manufacturing firm makes plastic parts contributing to the production of fuel tanks.
(A Tier 1 supplier sends parts directly to the original equipment manufacturer, ie., the automaker, while a Tier 2 manufacturer makes parts for Tier 1 parts makers.)
KB Components is switching over to producing other types of plastic injection parts — such as interior floor handle brackets, headrests and parts for the hood.
Ulrich said they already have the plastic injection equipment and switching over will create more jobs.
"I could see our employment going up 15 to 20 per cent," said Ulrich, who said the company employs 45 people.
"It's good for Windsor."
- Microchip shortage continues to hit auto sector hard, with double-digit unemployment in Windsor
- Why electric vehicle owners are pushing to drive change in how mechanics are trained
Stellantis recently unveiled plans for some brands of electric vehicles to be produced in 2024, including an electric version of the Dodge Charger.
Automotive journalist Kay Layne expects an electric vehicle will be produced at the company's Windsor assembly plant. She also expects any parts manufacturers currently exclusively producing parts for ICE vehicles will have to "pivot or die."
"There's still going to be gas engines for the next little while, but I do see it slowly pivoting over, and whether it's battery, whether it's hydrogen, that technology is still to be seen as well," said Layne, who can also picture the 2035 deadline being pushed back.
WATCH | KB Components Canada's GM explain how auto-parts plants are preparing for electric vehicles:
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, agrees there will be after-market demand for ICE parts, but said most of his members are preparing to pivot and many have already diversified anyway.
"There's time. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but you'd better be ready for you to be disrupted in your next program, which may be in two years, or five years or seven years."
Volpe said Porche is also working on a synthetic fuel for ICE cars that will be 95 per cent carbon free on combustion. But he said governments also have to collaborate to prepare for an increase in demand on the electric grid.
"If we all had electric vehicles today and we plugged them in, we would blow transformers. We'd overload the grid," he said. "There's gas stations all over the place. Is that where we would put chargers. How are we going to help the mining sector and the auto sector come together in processing for battery cells? All that has to happen."