The auto manufacturing town of Windsor, Ontario is angling for a C$2-billion investment in an electric vehicle manufacturing plant, Canada’s first, that would create 2,000 local jobs and be “truly transformative” to the local economy.
“It’s at quite an advanced stage,” Stephen MacKenzie, executive director and president of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, told the Windsor Star last week. “Government officials have told us this is the farthest-along proposal about locating a battery manufacturing facility in Canada they’d seen.”
Windsor is the only Canadian community in the running for the project, along competitors from the U.S., the Star says. “MacKenzie said he expects to have more talks in two to three weeks after the major international manufacturer seeking to set up the facility reviews the proposal.”
He added that federal, provincial, county, and city governments have all had a hand in crafting the bid, with Ottawa offering significant financial support and an experienced negotiator. “They know the importance of getting a battery supply chain in Canada,” he told the Star. “It’s the future of our auto industry.”
The facility would consume 90 megawatts of electricity and would have to be located close to an electricity substation, but MacKenzie said the city has “several pieces of property that could work”.
He told the local paper this is just one of three battery-related deals that Windsor is trying to negotiate.
“We know tech disruption is going to happen,” and “we want it to happen here,” he said. While Canada has no large-scale EV battery capacity so far, “we’ve managed to start discussions with three international manufacturers for EV batteries on our own.”
Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association President Flavio Volpe said the projects “are very real”, adding that each manufacturer’s decision will come down to “a whole matrix of things,” including money. “Volpe added Ontario and Windsor are well-positioned to compete for a plant because of labour talent, history in the automotive space, location, and Canada being one of the few countries to have all the mineral resources required to build EV batteries,” the Star writes.
“If you’re going to do something in batteries, how close you are to the chemistry and cell makers matters,” Volpe said. “Lucky for Windsor they’re all north of Windsor. If you’re making the claim you’re better positioned than Windsor and you’re south of Windsor, unless you’re Nevada, you’re not really in the game.”