Local plant bigger than combined capacity of current US production

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To appreciate the scale of the impact the new Stellantis/LG Energy Solution battery plant is expected to have on Windsor requires a global perspective, not a local one.

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The 45-gigawatt plant will supply more battery power annually than the current battery production of the entire US (44 gigawatts) as of the end of February, according to the online business data firm Visual Capitalist.

“It’s almost difficult to try and anticipate everything because it’s so big,” said federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Philippe-Francois Champagne.

“You’ll have a full ecosystem, small and medium-sized businesses.

“They’ll need to buy supplies. They’ll integrate themselves into the supply chain of Canada.

“I think what we’re doing is build the industry of the future and probably even bigger than what we’ve seen in the past.”

The Windsor plant will be one of the largest automotive battery plants in the world.

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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

The plant will directly employ 2,500 people when it reaches full production capacity in 2025, but is expected to create eight to 10 times that number of jobs in the supplier base.

Stellantis head of communication for Canada LouAnn Gosselin said Thursday the plans are still being worked out for the hiring process.

“This is a new entity, which we’re excited about,” Gosselin said.

“In terms of hiring, it’s still early, and more details will come in due time. Anyone who meets the criteria of the positions will be eligible to apply.”

Champagne said adding the battery plant to the string of Canadian automotive investments announced by Honda, General Motors, BASF and SK Posco in the past three weeks have reshaped the industry for generations to come. He’s also confident the Windsor plant won’t be the last battery facility to land in Ontario.

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“My mind is racing now to what’s next,” Champagne said.

“My next step is talking to car manufacturers in Europe and Asia to say look what we’ve done.

“We’ve demonstrated that we’re the game in town and we’ll continue to do that as a government.”

Champagne confirmed that the battery plant will also bring a research and development component to the Windsor area. Along with that will be an entirely new segment of the local economy dealing with the green and environmental aspects of battery production.

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

Stellantis Chief Operating Officer for North America Mark Stewart confirmed the plant will have the capability of adapting new battery technologies.

“As things develop and technology adapts, changes and advances for sure we’re not going to build a facility this large with LG without continuing to invest in the future whatever it is — the best technologies for our customers in terms of best range, best cost effectiveness and best for the environment,” Stewart said.

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LG Energy Solution director of external affairs and government relations Denise Gray left little doubt the giant South Korean corporation will bring into play its many other divisions related to battery production.

The company has already discussed with government officials about how LG anticipates their new batteries can be used in different applications.

“We’ve got not just this battery, but think about the whole supply chain,” Gray said.

“I’ve heard today someone say something about mines to mobility. We have all the upstream supply chain to offer and make sure we have access to.

“I think those are awesome opportunities for investment.”

Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis, left, Vic Fedeli, Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne , David Kim, Head of Digital Technology and E-Commerce Solutions at LG Electronics North America, MP Irek Kusmierczyk, Windsor-Tecumseh and Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Omar Alghabra 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.
Mark Stewart, COO, North America for Stellantis, left, Vic Fedeli, Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Federal Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade François-Philippe Champagne , David Kim, Head of Digital Technology and E-Commerce Solutions at LG Electronics North America, MP Irek Kusmierczyk, Windsor-Tecumseh and Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Omar Alghabra 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

Gray added LG will want the supply chain to be located as close to the plant as possible to control logistical costs and manage quantities properly.

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Gray said history involving such massive investments indicates the region is in for a whirlwind of development.

“The whole community grows,” Gray said.

“The whole community is enriched because you’ve got different skills that come in. You have new methods of technology and new methods of training.

“All of those workers have to have houses to live in, restaurants to go to. They have to have shopping and schools for their children.

“We really do see communities are born where LG plants its manufacturing facilities. We’re looking forward to enhancing and supporting that in the Windsor area.”

Gray said the joint venture between LG and Stellantis will require employees that bring a variety of skill sets.

“The jobs are amazing from assembly line to skilled trades to manufacturing design to machine equipment and adjustment to logistics to marketing and training,” Gray said.

“It’ll be a variety of jobs that will be available and a variety of skill sets that will be needed.”

dwaddell@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/winstarwaddell

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