Ford promises ‘banner year’ for auto sector as focus shifts to EV spinoff jobs

Click to play video: 'New Stellantis plant bringing in temporary foreign workers'
New Stellantis plant bringing in temporary foreign workers
RELATED: Temporary workers from South Korea have arrived in Windsor to staff up a new Stellantis electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant, raising concerns that taxpayer subsidies could be used to employ international auto workers over Canadians. Colin D'Mello has the story. – Nov 20, 2023

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is promising 2024 will be a “banner year” for auto manufacturing investment in the province, as the government turns its attention to spinoff jobs from electric vehicles and battery manufacturing.

On Monday morning, the premier said he was “really excited” about the future of the auto industry while at an unrelated event in Windsor, Ont. The comments came in response to a question about the reported expansion to a Honda Motor factory in Alliston, Ont.

“It is just an incredible company and we’re so, so fortunate to have them,” Ford said. “It’s going to be a banner year, that’s all I can tell you, I’m really, really excited … this year is going to be a phenomenal year, just stay tuned.”

Click to play video: 'Will Canada have enough EV chargers by 2035?'
Will Canada have enough EV chargers by 2035?

Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli told Global News the province has started to focus on the supply chain needed to support two EV battery manufacturing facilities under construction in Windsor and St. Thomas.

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“The top line was the (electric vehicle) manufacturers, the second line down were the battery manufacturers and where we’re really focused this year is the six major suppliers of batteries,” Fedeli said.

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Those companies produce components such as cathodes, anodes, separators, copper foil, electrolytes and lithium hydroxide – all required to get millions of EV batteries off the assembly line.

“Look at a separator site, as an example,” Fedeli said, “this would be a $3-billion-type company if we land on a separator company.”

The economic development minister said the kind of companies that work to supply battery production were not generally eligible for massive subsidies in the United States, helping Ontario’s bids to land them.

“We’re on the shortlist for many of them,” Fedeli said. “All of these companies really do need a place to land this year, and so I would expect … to do great things this year.”

Discussions also appear to be continuing between the Ford government and Honda over the potential future of Honda’s Alliston plant.

Click to play video: 'Honda considering $18.4-billion EV plant in Canada'
Honda considering $18.4-billion EV plant in Canada

Honda has a facility in the small Simcoe County town which, in 2022, the federal and provincial governments announced more than $130 million each to pivot to hybrid-electric vehicles.

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Then, at the beginning of the year, a Japanese media outlet reported that Honda Motor Co. Ltd was considering investing more than $18.4 billion in a plant in Canada.

Nikkei Asia reported in early January that Honda was looking at several sites, including next to its existing plant in Alliston, Ont., with a potential investment decision expected by the end of the year.

At the time, a Honda Canada spokesman said the company is looking at different initiatives to ramp up EV production but did not confirm the Japanese report.

A government source said Honda and the Ford government are still in discussions and couldn’t comment on the details of the discussions. They said the premier’s comments were geared more toward excitement at general investments in the industry, rather than a specific announcement he was teasing.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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