Waterloo EDC Blog

Japanese automakers are driving the Canadian auto industry

Posted by Waterloo EDC on December 9, 2019

TMMC's Fred Volf_banner

A new report says Japanese-brand automotive manufacturers produced nearly half of all cars and light-duty trucks made in Canada in 2018. The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) of Canada produces an annual industry review that reports on total manufacturing numbers, production share, import/export and more.

Leading the way is Waterloo-based Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC), which produced nearly 500,000 vehicles in Canada last year. Honda Canada, which has a manufacturing facility in nearby Alliston (115km/70mi from Waterloo), produced more than 430,000 vehicles. Together, these manufacturers account for 47% of all Canadian-made light vehicles produced in 2018.

"Japanese-brand automotive manufacturers have shown stability and growth during a period of restructuring, contraction and uncertainty across the entire industry," said David Worts, JAMA's Executive Director .

The last few years have heralded major announcements from TMMC. In 2018, the company committed to a $1.4 billion investment in its Cambridge facilities, located within the Waterloo community, and nearby Woodstock plant. Current Canadian production includes the Toyota RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid, as well as the Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h. Earlier this year, the company also announced that it would begin production of the Lexus NX and NXh compact SUVs in Cambridge in 2022.AutoTech Cluster Map Download Button

These new mandates have a direct correlation to the quality of workmanship in Waterloo – the local facilities have won the most J.D. Power Awards in North America – and exceptional market access to the United States (nearly 80% of Japanese cars built in Canada are for export). Many other Japanese companies have found success in the area, including Mazak, RICOH and Sanyo, making the Waterloo an excellent place for Japanese companies looking to expand further into the North America market.

While much of the auto industry is contracting, Waterloo is bucking the trend with these recent announcements from Toyota and the continuing growth of the local autotech cluster. Our newest Autotech Cluster Map counts more than 90 companies, including multinationals like Ford, BorgWarner and Geotab, along with some of Canada’s top research and commercialization organizations.


Do you want to learn more about Waterloo’s growing automotive and autotech ecosystem? Contact the Waterloo EDC team! We can provide in-depth information about local companies, make connections to research organizations and collect the data needed for you to make informed expansion decisions.


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Topics: automotive