A Canadian Story of Change, Resilience and Success.
For over 100 years, the Canadian automotive industry has supported our economy with investments, high value jobs and exciting products for consumers both in Canada and abroad. In fact, the North American automotive industry was born in Canada.
The first large-scale production of automobiles in Canada began in 1904 in Walkerville, now part of Windsor, Ontario. During that first year of operation, Gordon McGregor and Wallace Campbell of the Walkerville Wagon Works factory, together with a handful of workers, produced 117 Model “C” Ford vehicles.
The auto industry hit its stride in the 1920s, expanding such that Canada became the second largest producer of automobiles in the world.
However, the industry was composed of plants inefficiently producing many models behind a high tariff wall, and high consumer prices.
In 1965, Canada and the United States signed the Automotive Products Trade Agreement. That agreement, which came to be known as the Auto Pact, had two key requirements: the 1:1 ratio of production to sales, and the Canadian “value-added” (content) requirements. Today, the Auto Pact is credited as being the single most important factor in making the Canadian automotive industry what it is today: a strong, successful industry that has a significant, positive impact on the Canadian economy.
Three events during the 1970s dramatically changed the industry yet again, particularly in North America: the oil embargo of 1973–74, the Iranian oil crisis of 1979, and the emergence of Japan as one of the world’s largest producers of motor vehicles. Then, during the recession of the early 1980s, the automotive industry was almost completely restructured, emerging as a globally competitive industry able to take on not only Japan, but also other newly industrialized countries such as South Korea and Brazil. The successful challenge of Japan would lead to the demise of the Auto Pact.
In 2008, the Canadian automotive industry was again challenged with unprecedented economic turbulence that led to significant restructuring efforts. Its resilience and recovery over the past few years has made this industry a Canadian success story.
Today, Canadian auto manufacturers are making cars for markets around the world.