Canada needs to be as "proactive" as Mexico and US southern states in pursuing new automotive projects and get in before investment decisions are made, the head of the country's autoparts makers association said.

Speaking to just-auto at the final event of a week-long tour of Ontario's connected car sector, Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association president Flavio Volpe acknowledged that Mexico will have turned the volume tables on Canada in a decade.

He said in 2010 Canada assembled twice as many cars as Mexico but, by 2020, the rival country would build twice as many as Canada.

"They have the labour cost advantage and a number of free trade agreements that let them export surplus production," Volpe said.

But the Canadian dollar was back at its historic 30-year average and Canada "needed to turn automakers" back.

He cited an automaker which was considering an Alabama investment and noted the state governor's direct involvement in "jumping on planes" to woo the business and, when it did not like eventuating, making personal contact with decision makers offering to adjust terms to suit.

On TPP, on which Volpe has spoken to j-a before, he reckons it would open up the market to more investment from advanced Japanese component companies to come and invest in North America to support their Japanese customers here and "we're open to that".

He noted that 95% of Canadian automakers and autoparts suppliers are in the Oshawa-Toronto-Windsor corridor and that "Great Lake OEMs" - both sides of the border – would make 8m cars this year.