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$5B Windsor battery plant the largest private sector investment in Ontario history – Windsor Star

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The Windsor region was boldly thrust into the future of an electrified auto industry Wednesday with the announcement that Stellantis and LG Energy Solution will build a $5 billion automobile battery plant on the city’s east side that will directly employ 2,500 people.

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Canada’s first giga factory — producing at least one million watts of power — will cover 4.5 million square feet, making it slightly larger than Stellantis’s Windsor Assembly Plant, and is the largest investment in the history of the Canadian auto industry.

The plant will be located on 220 acres (88 hectares) at the corner of EC Row Avenue and Banwell Road and extends south up to the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.

“We’re going to be manufacturing in the Windsor region hundreds of thousands of batteries for the whole North American ecosystem for Stellantis – this is huge,” said federal minister of innovation, science and industry Francois-Philippe Champagne.

“With this type of investment, you know they’re going to be here for decades to come.

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This investment is similar to going from the horse-and-buggy era to internal combustion engines

“The best thing is this morning I was having breakfast with the folks from LG and we’re already talking about an expansion. They’re already thinking, what more can we do?”

In addition to the 2,500 direct jobs, it’s expected the spinoff jobs in the supply chain will be four to seven times that amount.

A video recording from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
A video recording from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The magnitude of the announcement could be measured in the number and significance of the collection of local, provincial and federal leaders, as well as business and community representatives in attendance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had planned to attend before being called away to a NATO meeting in Brussels, also sent a recorded message calling the plant an investment in the future of the country.

With the capacity to produce 45 gigawatts annually, the plant would be the largest of the 13 battery plants announced to begin production in North America by 2025.

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“Attracting this multi-billion-dollar investment will secure Ontario’s place as a North American hub for building the cars and batteries of the future,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said.

“As we secure game-changing investments, we’re also connecting resources, industries and workers in northern Ontario with the manufacturing might of southern Ontario to build up home-grown supply chains.

“Every region of Ontario will benefit with thousands of jobs being created and a stronger economy that works for everyone.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne are shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne are shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Both the province and federal governments have committed hundreds of millions of dollars of incentives to land the plant.

Those figures weren’t released Wednesday for competitive reasons at the request of the companies.

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Stellantis Chief Operating Officer for North America Mark Stewart said the plant would supply the company’s assembly plants across Canada and the U.S.

He expects construction to begin this summer with the first products being available in mid-2024. The plant will reach full operational capacity in 2025.

“It (Windsor) will supply 50 per cent of our (North American) volume,” said Stewart, who added the location of the company’s second battery plant in the U.S. will be announced shortly.

“There will be room for expansion. As we did our site selection, we made sure it was future proofed as well.”

Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Stewart said the company’s familiarity with the community and being home to Canada’s largest auto cluster were significant factors in Windsor being selected.

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“This is one of the most storied areas of the company,” Stewart said.

“We have families in this community that are multigenerational. We feel putting the business here for our new joint venture is the right thing to do.

“Proximity is very good as well. From a logistics flow, it makes lots of sense.”

LG Energy Solution’s head of external affairs and government relations Denise Gray credited the aggressive pursuit of the plant by all levels of government for the region’s success.

It’s LG’s first major manufacturing plant in Canada.

“Windsor has offered an amazing amount of capability from financial, from workforce to a spirit of really wanting to get it done that really attracted LG Energy Solutions to select Windsor,” Gray said.

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David Kim, Head of Digital Technology and E-Commerce Solutions at LG Electronics North America speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
David Kim, Head of Digital Technology and E-Commerce Solutions at LG Electronics North America speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The announcement secures a key pillar in the Windsor region’s economic development strategy to fully exploit the auto industry’s electrification.

“It’s a five-year overnight success story,” said Invest WindsorEssex CEO Stephen MacKenzie, whose organization began putting the pieces in place in 2017 to transform the region into Canada’s automobility capital.

“Everyone in our local ecosystem played an important role. This region has landed a foundational piece for its future.”

The city’s role was to assemble the land for the site, which wasn’t initially on the market. There’s one residential lot the city is still negotiating to acquire.

The land acquisition is expected to cost $40 million to $50 million.

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The other parcels were owned by Solcz Group Inc., Windsor Utilities Commission, CS Wind Canada Inc., Pointe East Windsor Ltd and a related numbered company. The city already owned four pieces of the property puzzle.

Council unanimously approved the land acquisition plans in an in-camera meeting on Monday.

Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The city will also offer tax breaks under its Community Improvement Plans that will see the site taxed at current agricultural rates for the first 20 years and will chip in about $8 million for mostly site-related preparations. One site improvement is moving an open drain that crosses the middle of the property.

“This investment is similar to going from the horse-and-buggy era to internal combustion engines,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

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“It’s that big. It’s transformational.”

The speed at which this deal evolved reflects the pace of the electric revolution consuming the auto industry.

The companies first contacted Invest WindsorEssex on Feb. 11, 2021, less than a month after Stellantis was formed by the merger of PSA Group and Fiat FCA. By early January 2022 Stellantis, the world’s fourth largest automaker, informed the city it was favouring locating in the area over competition from other Ontario municipalities and U.S. states.

“For a deal this size, this has moved very rapidly,” said Invest WindsorEssex’s director of business attraction Joe Goncalves, who spearheaded the organization’s pursuit of a battery plant.

“We had to make the sale of the area to the companies first, then the government incentives came into play.”

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A video recording from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
A video recording from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The companies began serious interaction with city officials only days after Stellantis announced its intention to build two North American battery plants during its EV Day on July 8, 2021.

Stellantis will oversee construction of the plant while LG Energy Solutions will handle its operations.

Goncalves said representatives from the companies visited the area four times between July 2021 and the end of October.

He added a big plus for Windsor was having the infrastructure, such as sewer capacity and wastewater management, already in place at the site and a reliable source of clean energy.

Among the key infrastructure improvements being added are Ontario Hydro’s new transmission line to the area and Enbridge Gas upgrading its delivery capacity. Those improvements are also vital to the region’s burgeoning greenhouse industry.

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“What we’ve learned in this is you have to have all the pieces in place before these companies come calling,” MacKenzie said.

“We invested in experts, did the research on what successful jurisdictions had done and had the necessary data ready.

“When we got the lead on this one from the federal development agency, we were able to send a complete package to the company within 12 hours.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

It was also made quite clear that Wednesday’s announcement is only the beginning of more positive news for southwestern Ontario.

Champagne said he’s already focusing on securing companies to build the foundation for an entirely new segment of the domestic automotive supply chain.

“LG is looking to expand enormously in North America,” Gray said. “We feel these are awesome opportunities for investment.

“We’re hoping to continue to develop supply chains and the closer we can get it to where we are the better.”

  1. (FILES) In this file photo taken on December 26, 2014, South Korea's LG Group  headquarters in Seoul. - General Motors on March 4, 2021, said it was considering building a second battery cell factory in the US with South Korean partner LG, as the American auto giant shifts towards producing electric vehicles.

    LG Considers Building Battery Plant for Electric Cars in Arizona

  2. A Stellantis sign is seen outside its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S., June 10, 2021.

    Feds, province expected to announce $4B battery plant for Windsor

Dwaddell@postmedia.com

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Windsor Mayor Drew are shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Windsor Mayor Drew are shown at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne, left, shakes hands with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne, left, shakes hands with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced.
Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Windsor where a $5-billion dollar investment to build an EV battery plant in the city was announced. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name – Global News

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name  Global NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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