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The Great Lakes Economy: The Growth Engine of North America

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We don’t often think about the states and Canadian provinces surrounding the Great Lakes as its own economy – but maybe we should.

After all, the region is tightly integrated in terms of trade. It alone accounts for more than 50% of all U.S./Canadian bilateral border trade and sees over 200 million tons of cargo shipped annually. If it were its own country, it would have a GDP of US$6 trillion – making it the third biggest economy in the world.

An Economic Powerhouse

Today’s infographic comes from the Council of the Great Lakes Region, and it breaks down the massive economic impact and trade partnerships that stem from the region’s prolific waterways, and the people living around them.

The Great Lakes Economy: The Growth Engine of North America

The Great Lakes Region has always been a center of trade. From the fur trade of the 17th century to modern day, the area’s navigable terrain, waterways, and ports have made it an easy place for goods to exchange hands.

Overview: The Great Lakes Economy

The Great Lakes Region includes eight states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) that surround the five interconnected freshwater bodies known as the Great Lakes. The area is home to 107 million people, 51 million jobs, and a GDP of US$6 trillion – making the Great Lakes Economy a powerhouse on an international level.

In particular, the region is well-known globally for its manufacturing prowess. It’s home to automobile and aerospace giants like Ford, GM, Chrysler, Bombardier, GE Aviation, and Magna International, and also many other diverse industries. Education and health, shipping and logistics, agriculture, mining and energy, tourism, and finance are some of the other major industries that generate business for the region.

And despite having a border, the Great Lakes Economy is highly integrated. Each year, there is $278 billion in bilateral U.S.-Canadian trade in the Great Lakes area – more than the entire region trades with countries like Mexico, China, UK, Germany and Japan combined.

Cross-Border Customers

The relationship between U.S. states and Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes Region is unique, and relies on goods flowing both ways.

For U.S. companies in the region, 78% of the imports they bring in from Canada are “intermediate goods”, which are raw materials, parts and components, and services that are used to produce other goods and services in the United States.

Here’s a breakdown of Canadian intermediate goods bought by U.S. states:

RankStateCanadian imports (Intermediate Goods, $USD)
#1Illinois$25.5 billion
#2Michigan$15.7 billion
#3New York$11.6 billion
#4Ohio$9.9 billion
#5Minnesota$7.6 billion
#6Pennsylvania$7.4 billion
#7Indiana$5.3 billion
#8Wisconsin$3.0 billion
Total$86.0 billion

Going the other way, Canadians buy billions of dollars worth of goods from the Great Lake states as well.

In fact, Canada is actually the biggest international customer for each state in the region – something we’ve previously shown in our USA/Canada trade infographic as well.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Although rhetoric against the U.S./Canadian trade relationship has ramped up in the recent months, there is still one enduring symbol that exemplifies the intimate trade relationship of the two countries in the Great Lakes Economy: the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.

Each day, over this one 1.3 mi (2.3 km) suspension bridge alone, close to 10,000 trucks pass to generate close to US$500 million of international trade between the two nations.

That’s equal to 25% of all bilateral trade between Canada and the U.S. Amazingly, more bilateral trade happens over this single bridge than the U.S. does in its entirety with France, Germany, South Korea, or the United Kingdom.

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Automotive

Global EV Production: BYD Surpasses Tesla

This graphic explores the latest EV production data for 2022, which shows BYD taking a massive step forward to surpass Tesla.

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Global EV Production: BYD Surpasses Tesla

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

2022 was another historic year for EVs, with annual production surpassing 10 million cars for the first time ever. This represents a sizeable bump up from 2021’s figure of 6.7 million.

In this infographic, we’ve used data from EV Volumes to visualize the top 15 brands by output. The color of each brand’s bubble represents their growth from 2021, with the darker shades depicting a larger percentage increase.

Data Overview and Key Takeaways

The raw data we used to create this infographic is listed below. Volume figures for 2021 were included for convenience.

RankCompany20222021Growth from 2021
1🇨🇳 BYD1,858,364598,019211%
2🇺🇸 Tesla1,314,319936,24740%
3🇩🇪 VW Group839,207763,85110%
4🇺🇸 GM (incl. Wuling Motors)584,602516,63113%
5🇺🇸 🇮🇹 🇫🇷 Stellantis512,276381,84334%
6🇰🇷 Hyundai Motors (incl. Kia)497,816348,66043%
7🇩🇪 BMW Group433,164329,18232%
8🇨🇳 Geely Auto Group351,35699,980251%
9🇩🇪 Mercedes-Benz Group337,364281,92920%
10🇫🇷 🇯🇵 Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance335,964289,47316%
11🇨🇳 GAC Group287,977125,384130%
12🇨🇳 SAIC Motor Corp.256,341237,0438%
13🇸🇪 Volvo Cars253,266220,57615%
14🇨🇳 Chery Auto Co.253,141107,482136%
15🇨🇳 Changan Auto Co.245,555105,072134%
16🌎 Other (41 companies)1,927,2111,326,26245%

Includes BEVs and PHEVs

BYD Auto

BYD Auto has leaped past Tesla to become the new EV king, boosting its output by a massive 211% in 2022. Given this trajectory, the company will likely become the world’s first automaker to produce over 2 million EVs in a single year.

BYD has a limited presence in non-domestic markets, but this could change rather quickly. The company is planning a major push into Europe, where it expects to build factories in order to avoid EU tariffs on Chinese car imports.

The company is also building a factory in Thailand, to produce right-hand drive models for markets like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

Tesla

Tesla increased its output by a respectable 40% in 2022, staying ahead of Western brands like Volkswagen (+10%) and GM (+13%), but falling behind its Chinese rivals such as Geely (+251%).

Whether these Chinese brands can maintain their triple digit growth figures is uncertain, but one thing is clear: Tesla is facing more competition than ever before.

The company is targeting annual production of 20 million cars by 2030, meaning it will need to keep yearly growth rates in the high double digits for the rest of the decade. To support this initiative, Tesla is planning a multi-billion dollar factory in Mexico capable of producing 1 million cars a year.

Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Company, which also owns Kia, posted a similar growth rate to Tesla. The South Korean automaker was a relatively early player in the EV space, revealing the first Hyundai Ioniq in 2016.

In late 2022, several countries including South Korea expressed their disapproval of the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which withdrew tax credits on EVs not produced within the United States.

Hyundai is currently building a $5.5 billion EV factory in the state of Georgia, but this facility will not become operational until 2025. In the meantime, South Korea has revised its own EV subsidy program to favor domestic brands.

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