Thursday, December 1 2022


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By joining a new California marketing hub for mobility companies – and pairing this with a local strategic relationship – the partners are seeking a business advantage that also helps advance the entire mobility ecosystem in Canada.

Two announcements, one week apart, revealed the emergence of a network of potentially powerful strategic marketing partnerships, on both sides of the Canada-U.S. Border, showcasing some of the key players in the electric mobility industry. from Ontario.

On Wednesday, venture capital firm EnerTech Capital, leading auto parts maker and supplier Linamar, municipal utility Alectra, and Western University unveiled the signing of a protocol of agreement foster R&D collaborations in the mobility sector in Ontario.

Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar. Photo: Linamar

This news follows last week’s announcement that Linamar had become the most recent member of the California Mobility Center (CMC) and that Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar, had joined the CMC Board of Directors.

CMC is a 10-month Sacramento-based organization whose mission is to help startup mobility companies accelerate their products to market by connecting them with industry leaders and established service providers. In addition to Linamar, its growing membership base includes a small cohort of Canadian companies, including Alectra and EnerTech, the latter having helped found the CMC with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

Where does the future go

“The dominant strategy of our mobility activity is to develop products and accelerate our activity in electrified vehicles. This is where the future goes, ”says Linda Hasenfratz in an exclusive interview with Autonomy Electric Canada, explaining why Linamar joined the CMC. “The better informed we can be, the more we can be involved in groups that explore and try to advance technologies around electric vehicles, the better able we will be to develop our own business. “

Provided by Wally Hunter
Wally Hunter, Managing Director of EnerTech Capital. Photo: EnerTech

Meanwhile, Wally Hunter, CEO of EnerTech, describes the new Ontario partnership, initiated by EnerTech, as an informal extension of CMC’s “localization”. “We have offices in Toronto, we are considering [Ontario mobility] companies to invest in, so that this ecosystem of partners can help those companies in their quest to commercialize and also engage them with the California Mobility Center, ”said Hunter.

By integrating Western University into the local partnership, the group hopes to serve two purposes: to create better employment opportunities for students in the field of mobility and to leverage Western’s research capabilities to accelerate the development of new technologies. for Canadian mobility start-ups.

Cast a large net

To be clear, even though the CMC is based in Sacramento, the state capital of California, Canadian startups are also encouraged to approach it directly. Just as CMC’s member companies hail from across North America and beyond, it casts an equally wide net for start-ups looking for marketing support.

“People will say, ‘Why California? “The reality is that a lot of leading mobility companies are coming to California because right now it’s the world’s largest electric vehicle market after China,” said Mark Rawson, chief executive officer. from CMC operations, in an interview with Electric autonomy. “This is also where you see some of the most progressive public policies aimed at promoting electrification and reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector.”

While every start-up’s situation is unique, Rawson says the basic model is for these companies to leverage CMC’s resources to launch or field-test their products in the California market, and then use them as a point of reference. departure to enter other markets in North America and beyond.

Rawson says CMC will support a “broad spectrum” of customers, from personal mobility to heavy-duty vehicles in transportation, as well as those working in charging infrastructure and grid-related applications. This explains why its membership includes companies like Linamar, on the automotive side, and Alectra, on the utilities side.

“Until now, these segments of the industry weren’t really working together, they didn’t really need to,” says Rawson. “But now, as there is this big push towards electrification, you see utilities and automakers having to work together as they each play a vital role in ensuring that the end consumer experience when the transition is smooth. “

Members also benefit

While CMC’s primary goal is to promote commercialization, established businesses that join as members also have a lot to gain. First, it provides a window into best practices in technology as well as policy and regulatory development. Equally important, it also gives member companies access to start-ups that they might wish to work with.

Hasenfratz expects both to be of great value to Linamar, and is particularly excited about its potential to improve R&D and product development for her business.

“We quite like the idea of ​​tapping into these new, innovative companies that have developed some kind of new technology ready to go to market, but they’re probably not really ready to manufacture,” she says. “That’s what we do, isn’t it?” This is where we are experts. So we can become a partner of these companies and be a manufacturing partner for them.

“It helps them because it brings their product to market in a very effective way. It helps us because it gives us more stuff in our toolbox, more access to more technology that we can sell to our customers. And this helps our customers because it accelerates their strategies around electrification. So it’s kind of a win-win all around.

Alectra CEO Brian Bentz did not respond to our request for an interview by press hour. However, in a statement released when Alectra joined the CMC in late October and Bentz joined its board of directors, he said: energy technologies and can enable the utilities industry as a whole to accelerate from new possibilities and new investments.

Beachhead for climate action

Looking ahead, Rawson says that while CMC’s board of directors is largely full, he hopes to dramatically increase its membership roster over the next year – from its current total of around 40 companies. (including Electric lion, another Canadian member) to several hundred.

Beyond the benefits for individual companies and start-ups, regulators and policymakers they engage with, he says CMC’s goal of accelerating time to market will also have a huge public benefit.

“This commercialization challenge must be met if we are to meet some of the very ambitious carbon targets that have been set by world leaders,” said Rawson. “This is why CMC tries to support a global market as a kind of beachhead where some of the most progressive public policies and investments are made to promote electrification and clean mobility. ”

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