Ontario focuses on being Stellantis’ EV hub

Stellantis last week said it will spend $2.8 billion to retool a pair of assembly plants in Canada in preparation for making electric vehicles.

The automaker said it will turn its Windsor and Brampton plants into “flexible, multi-energy vehicle assembly facilities” and build two new R&D centers in Windsor focusing on EVs and battery technology.

The governments of Canada and the province of Ontario each will give Stellantis up to $398 million toward the projects. Stellantis, during contract negotiations with Unifor, committed to spend up to $1.1 billion to retool Windsor Assembly Plant, which builds Chrysler minivans.

Stellantis said the Windsor retooling will “diversify the company’s capacity by introducing battery-electric or hybrid models to the production line to meet growing consumer demand for low-emissions vehicles.”

It didn’t say which new products will eventually be assembled in Windsor.

“We are in the middle of the biggest revolution in the auto industry since the conception of the assembly line in 1913,” Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents unionized workers in Windsor, said in a statement. “Ontario is well placed to play an essential role in the new motoring revolution.”

A similar upgrade will take place at the automaker’s Brampton Assembly Plant, which builds the Chrysler 300 sedan, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.

At that factory, Stellantis said it will install a flexible assembly line capable of producing battery-electric and hybrid vehicles. The modernized plant will have an initial annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles, the company said.

On the R&D front, Stellantis said it will modernize its Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor by expanding and building two “centers of competency.”

“The electric vehicle and battery-pack testing centers of competency will establish Ontario as a major R&D hub for the company across all stages of production — from design to development,” Stellantis said.

In addition to R&D, the centers will provide “major opportunities for local talent, universities, colleges and startups to participate in the development of Ontario’s EV ecosystem.”

The automaker said the hubs will be central to Stellantis’ R&D operations in North America and “serve the company’s worldwide needs for technology, process and product development.”

“These investments reaffirm our long-term commitment to Canada and represent an important step as we move toward zero-emission vehicles that deliver on our customers’ desire for innovative, clean, safe and affordable mobility,” Mark Stewart, COO of Stellantis North America, said in a statement.

The announcement comes a little more than a month after the automaker and LG Energy Solution jointly committed $4 billion to build an EV battery plant in Windsor.

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