Ottawa partners with industry to provide 10 universities with funding for auto R&D

HAMILTON – Ten Canadian universities are in line to tap $52-million for research into more energy efficient and environmentally friendly cars under a program funded jointly by the federal government and industry.

Minister of State Greg Rickford announced Friday that $30 million will come from the federal government’s Automotive Partnership Canada initiative and more than $22 million from industry and other partners, including the Chrysler Group.

About half of the funding — $24.2 million — will go to McMaster University in Hamilton, which will concentrate largely on electric and hybrid cars and a next generation of powertrains and components.

“It allows our researchers to focus on developing the automotive technology that will enable more sustainable, efficient and safe travel, as well as promote greater economic stability,” McMaster president Patrick Deane said in a statement on Friday.

Tony Faria, an auto industry expert based at the University of Windsor, said Canada has to work harder to attract automotive investments, particularly in Ontario.

“Canada certainly has not been getting any significant chunk of automotive industry R&D, which is heavily concentrated in the U.S.,” said Faria, co-director of automotive research at the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor.

It’s a “good gesture” from the federal government, but the U.S. government is providing billions of dollars of R&D support, Faria said.

Research and development doesn’t provide as many jobs as an assembly plant, but R&D jobs are very high paying and require a highly skilled workforce, he added.

Chrysler Group, which has partnered with University of Windsor previously, is providing just more than $9.2 million to help develop electric and hybrid powertrains at McMaster University.

Twenty engineers from Chrysler Group’s global electrified powertrain group will team up with faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students.

Faria said Chrysler provided most of the funding when the University of Windsor’s automotive research and development centre was created about 15 years ago.