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Regional Resilience and the Future of Ontario’s Automotive Sector in the Age of Digital Disruption

Elena Goracinova and David A. Wolfe

PEGIS from Institute for Economic Geography and GIScience, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: The global automotive industry is currently experiencing the greatest disruption it has faced in over a century. The advent of connected, autonomous and electric vehicles and the popularity of ride sharing services are transforming the industry to one that is increasing referred to as transportation as a service (TaaS), transforming the customer experience and potentially shifting the entire industry sector away from private modes of transportation. Substantial uncertainty exists as to whether traditional automotive hubs in Automotive Alley will remain central to the growing digitization of the automotive industry or whether they will be replaced by new geographies with greater strength in digital technologies. This paper explores the extent to which efforts currently underway in the southern Ontario automotive cluster to meet the challenge of digitization in the auto industry are laying the foundations for a process of new path creation or modernization and institutional reconfiguration. The paper argues that the strength of Ontario’s regional innovation system (RIS) and growing OEM R&D investments provide expanding opportunities for the cluster to remain competitive either by 1) firms upgrading or moving up the value chain by strengthening skills and production capabilities; or 2) modernizing on the basis of connected or electric vehicle technologies or organizational innovations. The focus of the study are the current efforts on the part of OEMs to adapt to this rapidly changing technological paradigm and the role played by current federal and provincial policies to intensify regional knowledge linkages. The paper concludes with a discussion of the possible trajectory for the future development of the region’s automotive cluster.

Keywords: regional resilience; path development and transformation; regional innovation policies; connected; automated and electric vehicles; automotive sector; Ontario; Canada (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L L6 O O2 P (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36 pages
Date: 2019
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