A $4.9 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont., is being touted by auto leaders as an important economic driver and a way to lead the industry into the future.
“This is huge news, not just for the Canadian auto industry. This is huge for Windsor, the Canadian economy and jobs in Canada,” said Brian Kingston, CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.
“We know that the auto industry is currently going through a major transformation towards electrification and that Canada getting an investment of this size and scale in battery manufacturing…indicates that we are a part of this transition.”
On Wednesday, LG Energy Solution and Stellantis, alongside all three levels of government, announced the province’s and country’s “biggest automotive investment” that will bring Canada’s first electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion battery factory. .
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the plant a “game changer” and said it puts the province at “the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.”
Ford did not disclose how much taxpayer money will be spent on the plant, adding that “it would also jeopardize some negotiations with other companies, but it’s a massive investment and hundreds of millions of dollars. “.
According to Stellantis and LG, the plant is expected to create 2,500 new jobs and supply batteries to Stellantis factories across North America. The plant is one of two the companies are building.
The plant could generate “up to 10,000 jobs”
The news is welcomed by many in Windsor’s auto sector, which has seen significant job losses in recent years.
Justin Falconer, CEO of Workforce Windsor-Essex, said in addition to the 2,500 jobs at the plant, he foresees “up to 10,000” indirect jobs.
Charging stations, electronic component supply chain partners, battery moulds, research and development, and battery transportation are just a few areas that Falconer says could see growth in the industry. ‘use.
Based on this, Falconer said post-secondary institutions will likely look to offer new electric vehicle education and training programs.
Together, Falconer said there are already about eight programs related to the field of electric vehicles in local institutions, but he said they could consider increasing the number of accreditation programs or adding programs for rapid training that will “improve or enhance a job applicant’s qualifications”.
“I expect it to be a very sophisticated and technological factory with robotics and engineering,” he said.
“We’ll see what standards LG is going to hire at, and obviously we’ll work with them to make sure they have access to the skilled workers they’ll need to employ at this plant.”
Yvonne Pilon, president of WEtech Alliance – which supports tech companies in the region – said the city was well-suited when it came to the tech talent “needed to fuel this new industry”.
She also said it was a good opportunity to diversify the automotive sector to include “all genders, all ethnicities”.
“Traditionally, we know the automotive industry tends to be male-dominated,” she said.
“It’s a monumental moment to make sure that this next generation, this new industry isn’t just built for everyone, it’s built by everyone.”
During Wednesday’s announcement, politicians said the plant is leading the country toward the federal government’s zero-emissions goals.
The federal plan is to require half of all new cars sold in Canada to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Five years after that date, all new cars sold must be zero-emissions.
Yet currently only 5% of all new vehicle sales in Canada are electric vehicles, Kingston said. He said driving demand requires consumer incentives and more infrastructure to support vehicles, such as charging stations.
While electric vehicles are zero emissions, the processes surrounding the production of electric vehicle batteries and parts are not, said Derek Coronado, coordinator of the Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario.
“Zero-emission vehicles are less intensive in terms of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they produce for obvious reasons, however, you’re still making steel. You’re still making rubber. You’re still making the materials that go into the development and manufacturing of this vehicle,” he said, adding that the batteries themselves required mined materials.
These mined materials, like cobalt, lithium and nickel, come from the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, and the processes used to obtain them impact the earth, Coronado said.
Electric vehicle enthusiasts eagerly await production
A local group representing electric vehicle owners is happy to hear that a plan like this is coming to the area.
Pino Mastroianni, president of the Electric Vehicle Society of Windsor-Essex, said this means increased production volume, which will drive vehicle prices down, making mainstream models more affordable for the general public.
“The only way to do [EVs] Achievable is to build them in bulk or in mass production, so that’s a step forward,” he said, adding that demand is growing every year.
“People who have already realized that sales of electric vehicles are going to increase are realizing that if we are not going to make them, someone else will, so we need to start having a national supply of electric vehicles to people who want it.”