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Auto giants speak at Sudbury's 2nd annual BEV conference

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Two car giants made their pitches to some of the industry's best and brightest at Day 2 of the BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility conference at Cambrian College in Sudbury on Thursday morning.

Day 2 of the BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility conference at Cambrian College in Sudbury. June 1/23 (Ian Campbell/CTV Northern Ontario)

Both Honda and General Motors said they're working overtime to meet new federal mandates to make and sell electric, zero-emission vehicles but help from the government is going to be needed now more than ever.

To many, including Honda Canada President and CEO Jean Marc Leclerc, it's going to start with the minerals in northern Ontario.

"Our success is the product of our own self-driven environmental aspirations rather than the product of mandated government policies," Leclerc told the crowd.

In a video outlining Honda's expertise in the field of combatting greenhouse gases, he boasted the auto manufacturer is leading the panic in environmentally friendly vehicles.

"So all the players in that supply chain or that ecosystem of electrification are here today to hear that message, to hear what needs to be done for us to be successful," he later told CTV News.

That answer is assistance from the federal government.

Whether it's the infrastructure or help from Ottawa in terms of rebates to make electric vehicles more affordable.

Simon Thibault used to lead Investissements Quebec's battery development.

Now with General Motors and a new facility being built in Quebec, Thibault was asked what are they doing there that's not being done in Ontario or elsewhere and why is Quebec having more success with its economic development?

Thibault told the crowd that the first thing is money.

"The entire SIF, Strategic Innovation Fund, for all of Canada, for all of clean-tech was $8 billion -- just batteries in Quebec -- $4 billion," he said.

According to Thibault, the province also had workers, who worked around the clock and around the world to make sure the clients' needs were met.

They had a saying, he said, that "all of our clients eat caviar, all the way."

"So it's about having the human resources and the financial resources with, and that's the most important part, a real strategy, with an action plan and objectives," Thibault said.

"I think northern Ontario is very strongly positioned. I mean, we have all the minerals here and the Ring of Fire, we have the expertise. I think there is a huge opportunity," said Leclerc.

It's a safe bet to assume the region is on the radar for many car manufacturers, given the abundance of critical minerals, he said.

Leclerc said he believes things in northern Ontario will likely move very fast as companies look to bolster their ability in getting minerals out of the ground.

All new cars and light-duty trucks sold in Canada will have to be zero-emission by 2035.

BEV LAB DONATION

Also at the college Thursday, mining engineering firm Sandvik made a major contribution to the school's battery electric vehicle lab.

Equipment including an A4 battery-operated loader with battery pack assembly and charger as well as four battery modules to support training was donated.

Sandvik Mining donated equipment to Cambrian College for its BEV lab. June 1/23 (Ian Campbell/CTV Northern Ontario)

Cambrian College's BEV lab is expected to be completed this fall.

The donation will give students a chance to work hands-on with equipment.

"The right thing to do by Sandvik is to come to the universities and colleges, and like Cambrian, find partners who can now use the equipment, for hands on education like Kristine indicated. I think it's really important that we grow the next level of technology in our students that are here at Cambrian so we can access them, not only for the OEMs but also the mining customers," Peter Corcoran, vice president of Sandvik mining and rock technology, said.

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