Auto-parts maker Magna opening EV components factory in Chatham-Kent in Ontario

Auto-parts maker Magna International Inc. has announced it’s opening an electric vehicle (EV) battery component factory in the municipality of Chatham-Kent in southwestern Ontario.

The company said in a news release Wednesday it is expanding its St. Thomas operation — Formet Industries established in 1998 — due to increased business from Ford Motor Company.

The new Chatham-Kent facility will be about 15,800 square meters and create 150 new jobs.

The factory will produce battery enclosures for the Ford F-150 Lightning. The company said all EVs require battery enclosures, which contain a number of components like high-voltage batteries and sensors and connectors.

Magna said the enclosures also contribute to the safety of the vehicle, protecting the electrical components in the event of a collision.

Magna released this photo of the existing facility where a new EV components factory is set to open in Chatham-Kent. The auto-parts maker is taking possession Friday, and it’s expected production of EV components will begin in the fall. (Magna)

The company said the product is the largest lightweight aluminum battery enclosure currently available on the market, and the first to be used in a work truck.

“We are coming to Chatham with new job opportunities working on an exciting new technology that offers a lot of growth potential,” said Mark Johnson, Magna’s Formet Industries general manager, in the news release.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said the municipality is thrilled to welcome the established business to the region.

“It’s going to create over 150 high-paying jobs and the beauty is as well, they really look at local suppliers, so it’s going to benefit suppliers not only in Chatham-Kent, but in Windsor as well,” said Canniff.

“Southwestern Ontario will benefit from this.”

The high-tech manufacturing jobs will be well paid, according to Canniff, who also anticipates potentially hundreds of spinoff jobs in the sector.

“I’ve heard a 1-to-1 multiple to a 3 to 1, so creating 150 to 450 other jobs in the region,” said the mayor.

Magna says the new Chatham-Kent operation is set to create 150 new jobs. (Magna)

Magna’s facility will go into an existing factory, with the company taking possession this Friday, said Canniff. He expects production to begin in the fall.

The company invested somewhere between $50 million and $100 million toward the expansion, and Canniff said he expects their operations to continue to grow.

“Certainly, they’re very bullish on the product … it’s a new technology, so they anticipate others will be looking for very similar for their vehicles,” he said.

$4.9B EV battery plant to open in Windsor

Magna’s Chatham-Kent announcement comes a week after it was announced a massive EV battery plant would be coming to the municipality’s neighbour, Windsor.

Automaker Stellantis and battery producer LG Energy Solution announced the $4.9-billion joint-venture deal, supported by all levels of government, to establish Canada’s first lithium-ion EV battery plant.

The operation is set to create 2,500 jobs, supplying batteries to Stellantis plants across North America.

Last week, Justin Falconer, chief executive officer of Workforce Windsor-Essex, said on top of the 2,500 jobs at the plant, he anticipates up to 10,000 spinoff jobs.

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