Stellantis plants in Windsor, Brampton to get $3.6B in upgrades for EV production

·4 min read
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford were among those in Windsor, Ont., on Monday, May 2, 2022, for an announcement with automaker Stellantis. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford were among those in Windsor, Ont., on Monday, May 2, 2022, for an announcement with automaker Stellantis. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Stellantis's auto assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton in Ontario will get $3.6 billion worth of upgrades to support the company's push toward electric vehicle and battery production.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited Windsor, Ont., with Mark Stewart, chief operating officer of Stellantis North America, on Monday to announce that Stellantis is investing billions of dollars into retooling and modernizing the two plants.

The company also said these changes, along with the creation of new research and development centres, will fuel new jobs — specifically the return of a third shift at both plants.

"We are really happy to be here today to share more good news and stability for our Canadian operations," Stewart said, adding this announcement secures opportunities for "generations to come."

In a news release Monday, the company said it will transform the plants into "flexible, multi-energy vehicle assembly facilities" ready to "produce the electric vehicles of the future." The media release had said the investment was $3.4 billion, but during the announcement, officials clarified it's a $3.6-billion investment.

"It's a plan that will see Ontario retake its rightful position as North America's leader in automotive manufacturing as it was for over 100 years, and today we are once again seeing that plan in action," Ford said during the news conference at the Windsor Assembly Plant.

"We know that we can and should build the vehicles of the future right here in Ontario. We have the expertise, we have the best workers anywhere on this planet, we have the critical minerals needed to power the EV vehicle revolution — now we have the competitive business environment needed to attract game-changing global investments."

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

This announcement comes on the heels of a $4.9-billion, joint-venture EV battery plant that was announced by politicians, Stellantis and South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution in March for the southwestern Ontario region.

For the Windsor Assembly Plant, Stellantis hopes the changes will diversify its ability to introduce battery-electric or hybrid models to the production line to meet what it calls "growing demand for low-emissions vehicles."

The province is funding up to $287 million with this renovation.

"The hard work Windsorites have put in to building their community, their future, has defined you ... and it's really been recognized and is significantly paying off," Trudeau said.

At the Brampton Assembly Plant, Stellantis will also change its assembly line to allow it to produce battery-electric and hybrid vehicles, with the province committing $132 million to the facility.

The announcement, Trudeau added, is not only good for Canada's auto and manufacturing sector, but also for the environment.

"Not only are we growing a world-leading auto industry creating hundreds of jobs, and securing thousands more, we're keeping our air clean by building and driving more EVs here at home," he said.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

2 new R&D facilities planned with EV focus

The company will also build two new research and development facilities that focus on EV production and battery technology.

Stellantis will expand its Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor by building two Electric Vehicle and Battery Pack Testing Centres of Competency, which will support everything from auto design to development.

The centres are also expected to provide opportunities for students in university, college and startups that want to take part in EV production.

About 650 new jobs are expected to be generated from these facilities.

According to Stellantis, the province is investing up to $94 million for these centres.

In total, the province is providing up to $513 million to fund these developments.

A news release from the Ontario government had said Ottawa was matching Ontario's investment, but a news release from the federal government says it is investing $529 million toward the project.

"This is a moment we've all been waiting for," said François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation,science and industry, in a news release.

"We're going to be continuing to make a difference because this is truly transformational for our industry."

With these changes and the EV battery plant, Stellantis said it's investing $6 billion in the province's auto industry.

Return of the 3rd shift

During Monday's announcement, Stewart said the second shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant will remain in place until the end of the year.

He also said that the third shift, which ended in July 2020, will return.

The termination of the 27-year shift affected 1,500 workers, with more than 700 given buyouts at the time.

Stewart did not say when the shifts will return.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

He also said the company is not yet ready to announce which vehicle productions will go to each plant, but they are "excited" about the lineup, which will have an "expanded portfolio" of vehicles.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens also spoke at the announcement Monday.

"Each of us has gone through the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs of an auto sector — we've lived through it here in Windsor," he said.

"There is no doubt Windsor is on the move ... Windsor's place at the heart of the automotive renaissance is clear."

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