Canadian leaders back battery assembly deal for Ford plant in Ontario

by Michael Green
Ford's Oakville plant and (inset) Jerry Dias.
Federal and provincial governments in Canada have pledged a major investment package to launch battery assembly and electric vehicles production at a Ford car plant in Ontario.

Proposals to retool the existing internal combustion engine plant at Oakville, at an investment cost of around CAD 1.8bn (£1.05bn), were backed by workers last month.

Now the Ontario and Ottawa governments have each pledged CAD 295m to support the initiative – which union leaders said could pave the way for mass battery production by drawing on the region’s battery materials wealth.

Ontario premier Doug Ford said: "By making this investment in Ford Canada, we are ensuring our province continues to lead North America and the world in automotive manufacturing and innovation, while boosting our competitiveness in this key sector.”

Multiple BEV models

Ford's Oakville plant directly employs more than 3,000 and will be modernised to accommodate multiple battery electric vehicle (BEV) models. It will also include the installation of a battery-pack assembly line.

The Oakville Assembly Complex will become one of Ford's highest volume BEV plants in North America, with the first electric vehicles expected to roll off the production line in 2025.

The national president of trade union Unifor, Jerry Dias, said last month that a debate had begun "about the complete manufacturing of batteries from A-to-Z – which would mean bringing in a major manufacturer to make the entire battery product”.

"The discussion has started about how we use our lithium in Quebec, our nickel in Sudbury and cobalt in northern Ontario,” Dias said.